The convoy that came to arrest me was of six cars, two siren blaring police saloon cars, two jeeps and two open trucks carrying a countless number of armed soldiers. It was about 2.00pm. I was at the office, hurrying to finish up the draft of an article for my blog site. Nonso’s birthday party was for 4.00pm and I had not yet bought his present. They stormed into the room, heavy boot soles against the concrete floor, guns, tear gas, walkie-talkie and all, like in the movies.
“By the order of the Commander in Chief, you are under arrest” The short one with two tribal marks running vertically on either sides of his nose, the commanding officer by my assessment pronounced. They hand cuffed me and led me out into the February sun.
The Junta had been in power for exactly one year. That morning, a year ago when they ceased power, my bed side radio had been tuned to Radio Nigeria, its permanent location and I was in the kitchen fixing an early breakfast when Ifeoma called out from the room sounding both excited and agitated
“Darling, there’s been a coup!”
“A coup?” I asked rushing into the room two mugs of hot water in hand.
“Yes a coup. Listen”
It was 7.00am normal time for the AM news. To have martial music playing at that time meant just one thing: a coup. She was right. The music continued for a while before a voice with an unmistakable northern accent came on air.
“Good morning Nigerians. I Major Ibrahim Bature of the Nigerian Army, on behalf of my colleagues wish to inform you that we have taken over the leadership and control of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria …”
Another Major! I thought as I dropped the mugs gently on the side stool and replaced Ifeoma who had risen and was making for the bathroom, on the bed. My eyes followed her until she disappeared through the bathroom doors. It was now two days past the expected delivery date and the anxiety was high. My attention then went back to the radio.
Later that day, the baby came; a boy and I named him Nonso. It was his first birthday and I was being arrested by the Government that had seized power on the day he was born.
Being an internet blogger was my crime. The Junta had initially given the impression that they supported the freedom of the press and when after six months there was still no clear transition timetable as they had promised, I joined the growing band of citizen journalists, demanding on be half of the people, a return to civil rule, a duty The Junta clearly didn’t think I had a right to.
“So this is where you stay and write rubbish about gofment?” The commanding officer remarked as he led me out to one of the jeeps, amazed I could imagine at how shabby the office looked.
I made an incomprehensible sound with my throat and continued walking. He stopped just at the door to one of the jeeps, looked me over, and shook his head in unsolicited pity before opening the door for me.
“This is what you get for making trouble with gofment” he jeered exposing his brown set of teethes.
“No” I disagreed. “This is what happens when criminals find themselves in power”.
He stared back blankly either not having heard well or not having understood. I didn’t wait to confirm, I got into the car and the sirens came on.
Pix credit; BBC.