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An Encounter with Men of the Underworld

Aljazeera English

On the night of Thursday, 03-03-2022, the last people I spoke with before retiring to bed were my friends, Umar M. Sani and Abubakar Sunusi from Kaduna State. They were in Katsina for the wedding of Sunusi who is the Police Public Relation Officer(PPRO), Sokoto State Police Command. I asked them to follow me to my house to spend the night there because my wife had travelled to Kano for a wedding. They politely turned down my request, saying they had already lodged in a hotel.

Watching news on Aljazeera English and lying on a three-seater settee I slept off with light switched on. Only to be stirred up by a loud bang witch I initially mistook for a gunshot. I opened my eyes to the horrible sight of armed men trooping into the sitting room and aiming for my direction. I initially thought they were there to kill me knowing that barely three months ago a serving commissioner was murdered in his home at Fatima Shema, an estate a stone throw away from Sardauna, our neighborhood. They were all dressed in black and had masked their faces.

Armed Robbers

It dawned on me they were armed robbers the moments they headed straight to a center-table over which my phone and money were kept and without hesitation pocketed them. Brandishing cutlasses to my neck, they demanded for more, else they would slit my throat. At that point, my predicament was how to convince them that I’m not a rich man even if an informant had speculated same to them. With two ‘big’ cars parked in the courtyard (one of them wasn’t mine though) and a relatively spacious sitting room, to persuade them I’m but a mere teacher who also earn a living telling fictional stories seemed an exercise in futility.

How many are you in the house?’ one of them asked. ‘We are three,’ I replied forgetting that my wife and daughter weren’t in. They tied my legs and hands and spread themselves around the house. After ransacking my room and my wife’s, they left with my phone, my money and a laptop. In the morning, I learnt that they were up to ten and had robbed almost seven houses in the estate including the guesthouse of Arch Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, the MD of Federal Mortgage Bank. And even though Police had responded to a distress call, they couldn’t confront them, because some of them bore guns.

Lukman Kankia Umar

Lukman Kankia Umar is a writer, journalist and a poet. He is the convener of Katsina Book and Arts Festival, an annual literary festival holding in Nigeria.