We
had driven from Port Harcourt to Asaba, then to Ndoki Abia and were
now heading back to Asaba, all in one weekend.
I
remember the last time i made a similar trip like this was sometime
in 2005 when i finished news one Friday morning on Rhythm 93.7 then
headed to Calabar to watch the game between Pelican Stars and Rivers
Angels. The next day was Saturday and I returned to Port Harcourt
then headed to the airport to fly to Abuja for the Super Eagles that
evening. In the morning I headed to Gombe to watch Gombe United v
Dolphins and then on Monday morning I joined the Dolphins’ club bus
to Abuja where I alighted to head to the airport. By Monday evening I
was at work and my colleagues did not believe that in one weekend I
had left Port Harcourt to Calabar, then Abuja and Gombe and was able
to return to work on Monday.
That
was me, back in the day but I hadn’t done that much traveling in one
weekend since then.
We
had planned to leave Obohia Ndoki at 7 am in order to get to Asaba on
time, get a good rest before going to the Stadium for the Super
Eagles v Egypt friendly match, but our host, Osteen Ejiasa had asked
us the previous day to extend our departure by an hour so he could
get at least ten liters of palm wine for us.
The
folk back in Asaba were even expecting us to come with some, so it
was a good idea to wait for it.
In
the extra one hour wait, breakfast was served. The caterer from the
previous day’s events stayed back to make us sandwiches and tea/
coffee, depending on what each person wanted.
At
7.45 am, the palm wine person came to the house to get a gallon and
then he departed promising to be back in no time and that was how his
phone lines refused to connect any more.
Tired
of waiting and wanting to keep us company, Ejiasa took us on a tour
of his estate. His country home sits over a small pond and he told us
he had particularly purchased that land because of the view.
At 9
am we had to leave (even without the palm wine) because no one could
reach the fellow and we did not want to spend the whole morning at
Ndoki when there was a mission in Asaba for us.
As we
got into the car, some of us with long faces, Osteen Ejiasa tried to
engage us in-jokes and other wisecracks just to delay our departure.
Then he pleaded with us that it would not make sense that ten litres
of palm wine brought in for us would arrive in our absence.
He
pleaded for added time of ten minutes and we obliged him. The palm
wine came and we turned it into smaller bottles and then departed for
Asaba.
In
the vehicle were Sanipe, Chuma Nnoli, Sammy Wejinya, and two ladies
from the event, Ella and Queen, one alighting at Azumini and the
other at Owerri. Azumini would be less than thirty minutes away from
Obohia.
We are Oil Bunkerers?
How?
As
soon as we got into Azumini, still on the high way, three men, each
holding two metres long pieces of wood with nails sticking out of it. They blocked the road. I told Sanipe to stop and hear them out.
As
soon as the car stopped, they placed the wood by the front tires of
the car and then Sanipe wound down his window to ask them what the
issue was.
One
of them said he wanted to search our boot and the answer from all the
men in the car, almost in unison was, Why? And we also wanted to know
who they were.
The
leader of the trio said they were revenue collection officers. Our
response was that they should search for commercial taxis and not our
car.
One
of them then said they got a piece of information that we were oil bunkerers and we were carrying illicitly produced petrol in our boot and they must search
it since they were told it was our car. Wow! Every time I travel on nigerian highways, i hear a new one.
Then
we all started arguing at the same time, but a vital question Sanipe
asked was if they were told specifically that the car we were driving had bunkered
oil in it. The man then said they were told a car looking like ours.
I thought he just said it specifically that it was our car carrying illicitly produced petrol?
In
the ensuing melee, Queen, sitting at the back asked us to stop talking. She was
from Azumini. She reached out to another guy who had just joined the
other three accusing us and went in her language, “Don’t you know
me? And she explained who her mother was in the community. The man
recognised her and then chided the other three for not recognising a
great daughter of the land who was in the vehicle.
It
was at that point the one who said he had information that we were
bunkerers then told one of his mates, “I am not even perceiving the
smell of the oil in the car. Let them go.”
They
pointed us to a particular direction and Sanipe negotiated the round
about. I was about to ask him while he didn’t go around it but inside
it but I just didn’t bother anymore. It was so early in the day and I
was already tired.
Suddenly
we noticed two men on a motorcycle chasing us and beckoning that we
stop. Haha! Sanipe sighted a police check point, slowed down but said
he would not stop until we got to the check point which we did.
As we
all alighted from the vehicle angrily asking them why they were
chasing us while the lone policeman in the checkpoint came to join
in.
One
of the bikers said he was a mobile policeman and that we were driving
a suspicious vehicle that illegally negotiated a round about. Oh! No!
Not again.
We
argued for a bit and when the mobile police man knew he could do
nothing, he told us to go. Suddenly, the policeman who had joined us
from the checkpoint looked my way and said, “But since these people
don carry motorcycle chase una na, make una just give them something
for transport. If looks could kill, the one I gave him could have
made me guilty of murder.
We
got into our car and continued the journey to Owerrinta, then Owerri,
through Onitsha.
Queen
got off at Ogbor hill, while Ella, a student of the Polytechnic at
Nekede alighted at Owerri. The rest of us continued on our journey to
Asaba.
The Nigerian Olympic
football team was a delight to watch
This team played well. Imama flanked by Osimhen and Okechukwu
The only poor thing about
the game was the empty stands. People were either not interested or
they were busy at work, or maybe they couldn’t afford it, but the game
in itself was a delight to watch.
I had boycotted National
Team Post Match Conferences since the incident in Uyo two years
earlier but I told myself that I would not miss this. Imama was my
friend and he had made me and many others proud by the display on the
day. There is hope in Nigerian football.
We stayed out a bit late
that night and on our return stopped by a corner shop to get some
drinks. I wanted to pay with my card via P.O.S. But he took some time
searching for the machine so I got out some cash and paid.
As we got to the hotel,
the receptionist was waiting for me to pay my bills.
I asked for a P.O.S.
Machine and then got out my wallet to hand over my debit card. I
couldn’t find it. I searched all over my pockets and then my car and
it still wasn’t there.
Then I realised that I did
not retrieve the card from the corner shop salesman after I decided
to pay cash a few minutes ago.
It was too late to go back
so I decided I would do it in the morning.

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