Abdullahi Aminu, an Assistant Manager News and Current Affairs with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Parliament Abuja, survived an attack by bandits on the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
Here, he narrates his ordeal after gunmen in military camouflage opened fire on his car.
Daily Trust: Can you narrate your experience during last Friday’s attack along the Abuja-Kaduna highway?
Abdullahi Aminu: One of my friends Munnir had appealed to me to attend his younger sister’s wedding in Kano and I promised to attend. But a week before the wedding, the former Sarkin Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, had visited Kaduna and so I visited to see him. However, another issue brought me to Kaduna on Monday to sign some documents and I left the same day using public transport because I was on casual leave. I did not come with my car because I had hoped on bringing it for the wedding journey on Friday.
That Friday, we set out on our journey with Munnir and two of his relatives who sat at the backseat. As we approached Olam farms in Chikun Local Government Area, I overtook a truck and immediately, I noticed some people fully kitted in military camouflage coming out from the forest and one of them began loading a magazine and then aimed his gun at me. My heart sank and I uttered Innalilahi wainnailayi rajiun. Before I could close my mouth, he shot at me and a bullet penetrated from below my dashboard, hitting me on the leg. I told Munnir that I had been shot but I refused to stop the car. Instead, I stepped on the accelerator and having escaped the first assailant, there was a second one who shot at the car tyre by the passenger side and the car began to make a terrible sound from the rim, but still continued to drive. As we were trying to evade the attackers, a third person (wearing a blue jean and a black striped tee shirt) came out and aimed directly at my windshield. That was the only time I panicked but Alhamdulillah, he missed.
The ambush was strategic because they came out one after the other with the hope that if the car doesn’t stop after the first attempt, it will stop after the second or third attempt. But after avoiding the third shot, I moved further and sighted some people near a barricade ahead of me but because I was not sure of their identity and with a gunshot wound and a flat tyre, I parked by the shoulder of the road and asked the occupants of the car to run into the bush. From my rear-view mirror, I noticed the last assailant attempted to come after us but was distracted by another approaching vehicle. I then opened the door and tried to flee but I fell because my leg couldn’t carry my weight.
I crawled into the bush and because it was raining, I got a lot of bruises and thorns on my body. When I get to a puddle, I will jump on one leg until I eventually got to an area with many leaves and I hid there and used the leaves to cover myself. After about 15 minutes, I heard someone making a phone call asking for reinforcement, but unknown to me the caller was a SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) operative. The reinforcements came after 20 minutes and I started hearing voices telling people not to approach the area due to the operation.
When I noticed that vehicles had converged in the area, I concluded that it must be the police so I tried to get their attention. One of the mobile police officers sighted me and asked who I was, so I explained to him that I was a victim of the attack. They assisted me out of the bush and that was when I started feeling the pain from my gunshot wound.
DT: What about your travelling companions, where they equally rescued?
Aminu: Already, they had informed the police that I had been shot and must have escaped into the bush. After I was taken out from the bush, I was laid on a pavement by the road before I was taken to St. Gerard hospital by the SARS. While there, the gunshot wound was treated and I was shown four holes in my leg, we initially feared that I had sustained four bullet wounds but the x-ray revealed that one bullet was still in my leg and I had a fracture. Also, when SARS brought me in, I heard them saying some passengers in an 18-seater bus were kidnapped and I believe they were the first victim on that day. There was also an empty white Hilux by the roadside but I can’t say what happened to the occupants.
DT: Despite being fully kitted in military uniform, how did you know your assailants were not security agents?
Aminu: They did not mount any roadblock and this is a road I have plied for over seven years. It was my first encounter with kidnappers even though I’ve heard of their operations. This was like drama to me, it felt like I was dreaming. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the first assailant despite being fully kitted in military uniform was that this cannot be real military personnel. I know this because I once covered the military as a journalist with NTA in Kaduna.
Another thing was that he crossed over from one lane to the other and I concluded that there was something amiss because security personnel would not jump from one lane to the other during patrol just to stop cars. My training as a journalist who has covered the military actually helped me and even while I was at St. Gerard hospital, I contemplated going to Kano for the surgery but with the help of the former Army spokesman Brig. General Sani Kukasheka (rtd) I decided to do the surgery at the 44 Nigerian Army reference hospital and Alhamdulillah the surgery was successfully done, the bullet was removed from my leg. I have received nothing but love and care since this incident.
Apart from my family that have been by my side, my superiors from the office such as our Zonal Director and the Director General have been worried and shown genuine concern and doctors here have been very kind and professional.