This morning I woke up by myself – no rude gunshots or harsh bomb blasts woke me up. I was not so lucky on Friday morning though..
I hate campus hostels so I live off campus very close to one of the school’s numerous gates. But because the campus is relatively safe, has more power supply and not subjected to the 9-6 curfew imposed on Maiduguri, I usually end up sleeping at a friend’s who lives with his mum in the staff quarters. Well, Thursday night came and network was really terrible over there so I decided to sleep at my place instead to see if the network will be better since I had some 360nobs job to do. I and my roommate Blaq walked home. By 6 o’clock the next morning, the alarm on my pebble smart watch vibrated me awake. Since I didn’t have any lecture, I out off the alarm continued sleeping. Checked the watch again and it was quarter past seven. About five minutes later, I heard a gunshot. It’s a normal occurrence over here in Maiduguri so I paid it no mind. A few seconds later, there was a burst of gunfire. I asked Blaq if he heard that just to be sure. We got a continuous sound of gunfire in response. We sprang up and started throwing clothes on. Blaq suggested we get into the campus, I thought it was an unnecessary risk since we will have to cross a major road for us to get into the campus. Our only neighbour who happens to be a young lady with a baby ran out of the house with her sister and four others screaming at the top of their heads for everyone to run out of the area. Turns out the Boko Haram guys were coming through a dried out river behind our house. I and Blaq said a short word of prayer to God to direct us and then we headed out to the gate of our compound. We met our other friends who thankfully were as cool headed as us and we were trying to decide what course of action to take. Yeah, meanwhile we could hear bombs exploding – it was like on the fourth explosion by now – not like I bothered to count though.
We decided to go out to the road to see what’s happening. We saw thousands of youth – the ones called the civilian jtf – on the road in front of our house brandishing all sorts of weapons waiting for Boko Haram members to come. Weapons from stuff you see in ancient medieval movies like iron spikes, spears, mean ass,ugly swords to common tools like hammers, axes and shovels. There were all sorts of weapons though.
And different ages – pre teenagers to adults in their 30s. We foolishly sat down by the roadside watching the civilian jtf motivate themselves with chants, scraping their weapons on the tarred road as they drove in cars teeming with their members. They did all the macho shit they could do to get their blood boiling. I moved closer to them and picked up some of their conversation and from what I gathered, it seems some Boko haram members one of the army bases known as Giwa Barracks. It was said that the insurgent came in full force but the soldiers were prepared for them so they scattered them. Some said that more of the bad guys were still coming in however. Did I mention that not once did the gun fire stop? It was still raging but we were not certain where from. It was an on and off thing. One guy mentioned he saw about three of them at that same dried up river shooting their assault rifles. I moved on from him and asked someone what was happening. He responded that it was Boko Haram trying to get into town. I was like so what’s it gonna be? He confidently boasted that if they were coming in, it will have to be through the road we were on and by God they will not get through them. I hailed the fella and moved back to my friends.
We chilled around those ruffians for a long while with some soldiers around. Later on, a number of them came with a bloodied fellow in their midst being beaten and brutalized. From their shouts, it seems he was a Boko Haram member. When the multitude that saw them coming they started jubilating and running towards their comrades to lynch the dude. One of them holding a heavy machete ran forward and hit the captive on the head with the edge of the machete. The dude sank from the brute force but he was still dragged on while being beaten till he was eventually handed over to the soldiers nearby. A fighter jet came on the scene doing some fancy maneuvers. I saw it dip at an area behind our house and then it rose again. Immediately there was heavy black smoke around that area. Another jet showed up and they started firing at the ground from a distance. Those shots were very far away though, thankfully.
One of our neighbours came back from school and told us a bomb exploded near s lecture hall. We refused to believe him because we just couldn’t live with that possibility – school has always been safe from all the attacks that have ever occurred. We asked him how it was like and his details were scketchy so we teased him and made fun of him concluding that fear made him make up stories. We also got calls that a girl was hit in the hostel from a stray bullet; one other girl said her roommate dodged a bulled – we had a field day with that one too and cracked jokes at the newly discovered bullet-dodging power. .As usual, I decided not to believe anything till I could confirm it for myself.
By noon, the jet was done and the gun fire eventually ceased. I and my friends went back into the compound and started preparing to eat our first meal of the day.
After eating, I drove into school and I confirmed that indeed a girl had been hit by a stray bullet. I will later come to hear that she passed away from the injury. Also, a guy was also hit by a stray bullet while in the hostel and he gave up the ghost too. I and a few friends drove to the lecture hall that my neighbour claimed a bomb had exploded at and though there was no bomb blast there as we earlier said (mostly in jest) there was an explosion of sorts there which we concluded must have been from a Rocket Propelled Grenade. There was a small hole in front of the class while the glass windows all around the front of the building were in pieces. Also, shrapnel seemed to have penetrated through the metal doors of the lecture hall while the walls of the class had so many marks. It is a miracle people did not die from that one alone.It seemed that there were a lot of such damage of that sort all over the campus. A friend shared a picture where such a weapon tore through the fence of their compound. The most sensible rumour concerning that was that the insurgents were firing those weapons at the fighter jets and some of them that missed the target found their way onto the campus. I still cannot make sense of the stray bullets that travelled so far to kill those two students though since no shot was fired from within the campus.
I talked to my mum later on and found that the battle was bad in the area near our family house. Seems that when the Boko Haram members attacked the barracks and failed, they tried to escape into that area and they were being gunned down by the soldiers. Therefore, the area surrounding the house was littered with dead bodies. My mum and cousins had to go somewhere else to live the rest of the day.
All in all, it could have been far worse. But the military really did well. The presence of the civilian JTF was also helpful despite their wild, brutal, uncouth ways. They hacked a lot of Boko Haram members to death on the spot even within the campus. But we rather have the youth of the town in that way rather than cowering in hiding whenever our city is under attack. The upside of this most recent experience is that the casualty suffered by the good guys was so low that everyone is optimistic that maybe we are reaching the end of this crisis in Maiduguri… Time will tell