I was feeling massive pain and becoming weaker that I couldn’t react and they stopped. I thought I was going to faint. Bruises all over my body. Two ushers came and drag me to one corner. The shirt I worn had badly torn due to the cane strokes. I guess they saw the way I was behaving and they got me locuzade boost and bread as they took me to one corner. Na so I begin cry. All parts of my body began aching me. I couldn’t even eat what was given to me. Immediately the usher left, I stood up and left the church. Thank God the gatemen were not at the gate. Na so I come out, call on okada man. Na so I find my way comot for their. When I got home, I was just staggering. The room door was open as I staggered into the room and on the floor. Ali was back. Ali started asking what happened to me. “See me, I no fit explain, tears rolled down my eyes.” I asked him to help me get my drugs near the bed. He got it for me. Na so Ali begin scream, “what happen nah, its it accident or?” There were blood stains on my shirt. I couldn’t answer all his numerous question. I didn’t know when I slept off.
It was when I woke up in the midnight, i started feeling hungry. I come dey demand for food. Thank God for the remaining rice wey remain, the one my friend Ali cooked. Na so I go pot carry the thing chop. The way I was behaving and the sounds I made woke him up. Na there I come explain wetin happen to me. Ali was terribly angry and asked for the men of God in the church to be arrested, but much of the blame was on me. Ali said I was a fool and too gullible to believe all the crap I was told by the church. “How can you cast out devil and demons by flogging someone!” Ali screamed at me. “Guy you fall my hand,” he repeated again.
Morning came and Ali took me to a nearby chemist for treatment. I no even get myself because the injuries on my back were much. The pastors that flogged me concentrated more on my back. All my eye come swear up. My lower lip swear up like kpomo. The cane still touch that side. “But part of me was still telling me that I was free after the cane flogging.” “Another part of me said I had collected 20 more heavy demons from the church into my life.”
What happened at the church made me look foolish. I was indeed gullible. Feeling that the strokes of cane would give me freedom but it wasn’t.
Days later, I was told that my house the family members were staying had become a shadow of itself. People had informed me that the family members chased away tenants and brought new ones. “Wetin I wan do?” with the way I was hearing they worship different kinds of deity in the house. I had too many problems on my head that I had less time to focus on the house issue. I was recovering from the physical bruises I got from the church deliverance, the strange headaches where not going. At a time when I spit, it would be a mixture of blood and saliva. What about the terrible dreams and nightmares. My life looked empty. I just felt like dyeing, that God should just take my life away. Ali encouraged me. He was still persuading me to come to their church. He was still inviting their church’s prayer group to come to the house to pray with me. But it seemed the prayers were not working at all. I just felt God doesn’t want to answer my prayers. I had made up my mind to tell Ali to stop his church’s prayer group from coming to the house to pray for me. The prayers no dey work.
This particular Saturday afternoon, I was laying on the bed when Ali came to meet me. He said one of their pastors saw in a vision that I was cursed. And my hands were tied and stained with evil works. He said that they (prayer group) said they will no longer be coming to the house to pray for me since I don’t want to confess all I had done in the past. “For my mind, I was relaxed a little because it seem the prayer group were wasting their time,” their prayers were not solving any of my problems. So make them stay their own. Na so Ali call me. He began narrating the history of our friendship, how we began. Himself believed what was wrong with me was not just ordinary. He began advising me that if I had any evil that I had done in the past, or I don kill person, make I confess. Na so I shout “Tufiakwa.” Say I never kill anybody before oo. “But what have you done in the past that is following you?” he asked. I kept silent for a while. He said I was hiding something from him. I told him I wasn’t. “Okay ooo” he said. He said he would not force me to speak.
Night came and I ate my food. There was electricity. I switched on the T.V and began watching.
I was walking on the streets of Ilorin when a military van from nowhere stopped infront of me. About 4 soldiers came off from the van. They grabbed me and threw me inside the van. I was shouting and screaming but they whined up the glass so no one could hear my shouts and cries. I began begging them to free me but they refused. They took me to an unknown river and dipped my head into the water. I was struggling to breathe as water entered through my nose and mouth. They brought out my head as I spilled water out of my mouth. I was begging them but dem no gree. Na so dem dip my head into the water again. They lifted up my head again. One of them asked to be given cutlass. They brought a cutlass to him. They tied me up like an animal to be used for sacrifice and placed me on the ground. I was begging but they just ignored me. They barely speak, but just torturing me. I even asked what I did but them no dey talk. The one with the cutlass lifted up his hand with the cutlass. As he was about hitting me the cutlass, I screamed. “What is that?” Ali shouted. “So it was a dream,” I said. Ali was looking at me like someone saying “no peace for the wicked.” I didn’t say anything and went back to sleep. Ali sef no ask me anything as he went back to him sleep.
It looked as if I was alone in my problems.
In the morning, I picked up my phone. I was just playing with it and scrolling through my contacts when I saw the contact “Pator sam.” His number was still on my phone. Pastor Sam was the pastor I met at late Nuella’s place when I, Uchenna, and Abisoko went to settle with Nuella’s parents when they accused me of killing their daughter. He was the first person that put it to me that I needed deliverance because I was cursed. And he gave me his number then. I had almost forgotten it. “I had been running from so many pastors to another, yet no one fit deliver me. Some ate my money, others tortured me. Ali’s prayer group had told me couple of times that I was cursed.” Na so some talk but them no do anything. But no one apart from my former friends (Uchenna and Abisoko) were aware of what I had done in the secret. Ali had once told me that if I keep hiding it, one day it will still open and swallow me. “But how would Ali look at me after telling him everything I had done in the past?” “Telling him I had gone to several native doctors in the past.” I felt telling a distant person, confessing it to someone who was far away would be better. I imagined it, “if I come tell Ali and their church members, which kind eye dem go use dey look me.”
Many thoughts going through my mind while I was still staring at Pastor Sam’s name on my phone contact. I dialed the number and it said it was switched off.
The next day, I called Pastor Sam’s mobile number and it went through. When I introduced myself, at first he said he couldn’t remember who I was but after explaining much of our encounter the day he gave me his phone number, he remembered. He asked me where I was and I told him. After exchanging pleasantries, I told him I would love to see him. He asked me what I wanted to see him for. I told him it was really urgent and personal. He asked me to come to Lagos at his church office. He gave me the address.
Three days later, I was feeling weak but I still managed to travel to Lagos to meet Pastor Sam. I had earlier told Ali about my journey to Lagos.
I only told him that I was going to visit a pastor friend of my late mom who asked me to come.
Though he discouraged me from going due to my health status but I ignored it and went my way to Lagos. When I got to Lagos, I still called Pastor Sam to inform him I was getting closer. He still asked me to maintain the address he gave to me.
I got to the place and church Pastor Sam asked me to come to. It was a moderate size building which I presume can only accommodate 200 people. The church was painted green colour. I walked into the place because it was open. I met some people at the alter praying. I called Pastor Sam to inform him I was in the church. He asked me to wait because he was on his way to the church. I sat on a white chair in the church.
30 minutes later Pastor Sam arrived. He was surprise to see me. He asked me to follow him to his office. Na so I follow the man. He asked me couple of questions like what I was doing at that moment, if I had graduated. Well I told him. Finally, he asked why I wanted to see him. Na there I begin narrate story. I first reminded him of what he told me when we had an encounter at Nuella’s place. “That he said I was cursed and I needed deliverance.” “I narrated how I went into Yahoo yahoo business, the number of juju men I and my friends visited and the problems and challenges I was facing that moment. I even told him what transpired between I and the late Nuella, that I didn’t use her for money rituals as her parents had said.” After all I had said, he stood up and said he was coming and excused himself. He went out of the office. After like 10 minutes, he came back and sat on his chair. He said he had listened to all I have said. As he was still speaking, his phone rang. He picked it and told the person calling on the phone to come immediately, that he should hurry up. “Me sef, I come dey say abeg make the Pastor attend to me first before he begin do other things.”
Pastor sam stood up again and said he was coming and left outside. This one I come begin wait for him, 5minutes pass, 10, 20 and the pastor was yet to return and I was still in his office. 35 minutes later, Pastor Sam returned and apologized for the distractions. He asked me to close my eyes, and I did. He prayed for me. After the prayers, he said before he would advise me and conduct deliverance for me, that I should go to the alter first and ask for forgiveness. I stood up and left his office and went to the alter to pray. After about 15 minutes, he sent someone to come and call me. Na so I stand come go back to Pastor office. I sat down. He asked me to wait that he was going to get something. Na so Pastor sam commot. I come begin wait. I was just hoping that we could finish on time so I could return to Ilorin that day. Sleep sef com carry me for the chair wey I dey. It was the opening of the door that woke me. The pastor walked in and called my name smiling. He sat down. Barely 3 minutes he came in, the door opened. Na 3 police people I come dey see. Before I knew what was happening, na heavy slap land for my face. One of the police men slapped me and I fell. ‘Health wise I wasn’t doing well, now this one!’ I was so weak after the slap that I was struggling to ask what I did. I lost my voice.
I couldn’t understand what was really happening. While I was on the floor, the Pastor was telling them to take it easy on me. I tried to struggle but couldn’t. “Stand up,” one of the police officer shouted. Before I go even stand, one of them dragged me by the hand out of the Pastor’s office. As they dragged me out, i could see about 5 people. I managed to recognize one of them who happened to be Nuella’s father. They began raining curses at me, calling me murderer. The father said indeed he was right 3 years back when he said I killed his daughter Nuella and used her for my Yahoo yahoo rituals. I tried to explain but I had lost my voice. It looked as if the slap one of the police men gave to me affected my voice. Na so this people(police men) handcuff me come put me inside their van. I began crying because I never bargained for what I was seeing. “I didn’t know anyone in Lagos.” “What was really going on, I couldn’t understand.” I no even no anywere for Lagos. I was taking to a police station and stripped off my clothes.
I tried telling them to allow me make calls to tell my relatives and friends where I was as I managed to speak. The police no gree. Dem just dey use slap scatter my face. They took me into a cell. “Oh lord have mercy. The scent, perfume, odour and smell coming out of that place. The smell was so bad that immediately I was pushed into the place, I began vomiting.
There were 5 other people in the place. One of the inmates asked what was wrong with me. I was scared and thought they will beat me. I was so weak and felt tired.
Few hours later, it looked as if I would faint. I had already urinated on my body. The urine was a mixture of blood. Na there the guys wey dey inside the cell come dey shout make them come give me treatment. I was finally taken out of the cell to a place. I guessed they have an in house nurse abi na Doctor. They refused taking me out of the premises. A female doctor came to where I was placed. He was checking my body temperature. It looked as if I had started regaining my voice. I began pleading with the doctor to help me beg the officials to give me my phone so I could make calls. After much pleading, the doctor asked the police officers to give me my phone. The officers refused. Come see were the doctor com dey para for them.
I began begging. I told them that I wasn’t feeling so well and I want to call my siblings to get me my drugs. After much pleading, they brought the phone and asked me who I want to call. They refused giving me the phone. Rather when I told them Ali, they dialed the number and placed it on speaker. Na there I tell Ali say dem don arrest me for Lagos. Before I fit explain finish, credit don finish. Ali called back.
Though he couldn’t understand what I was saying because I never told him about Nuella’s case. He was not aware about my past so he sounded confused. One of the police woman there was kind enough to tell him the police station I was before the officers cut the call. Ali tried calling back but the police didn’t want to give the phone to me. They switched it off.
The doctor asked if I had taken any food, I told her I hadn’t. And seriously, I had not taken any food before leaving Ilorin. Na the woman send people go buy bread and butter for me. After eating, she injected me. I no know when sleep come carry me.
I woke up the next day. I wasn’t returned to the cell. I was placed on a small bed in a room in that premise. I was still not feeling healthy.
I called on one of the officers to ask why I was arrested. He was part of the people that came to arrest me. The only thing he told me was “that when I get to court I will know why I was arrested.”.
I was later returned back to the cell. I wasn’t feeling the cell at all. My appearance, the way I act sef. Even some of the inmates told the officers to come take me out of that place because I might die.
2 days later, one of the warders came to call me that someone wants to see me. They opened the cell and I came out. Na my friend Ali. I was happy that at least someone had come to bail me. But It was all dawned on me that I had been exposed. With the few minutes Ali was given to spend with me, I was able to be brief and explained what had happened when I came to Lagos and what transpired between I and Nuella. As we were there, Pastor sam and Nuella’s parents came in. It was there I got to know that it was the pastor that informed Nuella’s parents that I confessed I was a Yahoo yahoo boy. The Pastor tell them wetin I tell him. Na there my yansh come open for were Ali dey. I tried to defend myself as they accused me of killing Nuella for ritual. I began crying ooo. I was disappointed with the Pastor. I never believed he would go tell people what I told him. “Right from when I had been having these problems, Pastors have been conning me. Fake pastors.” I only came there for confession but ended up in police cell. Ali sef com dey disappointed in me, though I loved his maturity at that moment. He didn’t try to castigate me for not knowing all about the happenings in my life that moment. As I wept bitterly, Ali consoled me and assured me that he would try everything possible to get me out in no less than a week. I was bundled back into the cell.
As Ali had promised to help get me out within days. I waited for days; and days turned to weeks. Weeks turned months and I was still locked behind bars. What looked to me like a small issue that could just be settled turned into a big problem that I was asked to get a lawyer. Ali and friends, even the prayer group I rejected were all supportive. Infact the prayer group, I began accepting them. Ali will bring them from Ilorin to come and pray for us in the cell. Ali comes to see me once every 2 weeks. He will tell me how far he had gone for the settlement of the issue. Nuella’s parents were still being adamant. Dem no wan let go. At a time the lawyer Ali got was rejected and bail options turned down. Na so I stay for cell. Ali said the best option was to put in prayers and to still dialogue with the deceased parents.
As time went on, it looked as if my health was improving. I had almost forgotten that I came into the place with a serious health problem. But I was getting used to the place even though I didn’t like it. But my life seems to be changing for a positive.
5 months still in cell. One particular morning, I was called up that I had a visitor. “Who can the visitor be apart from Ali. Na so I follow come reach there. It was a shock who I saw, I couldn’t believe my eyes. That was Adaobi, Nuella’s friend that took my money away. Immediately she saw me, she wanted to hug me but the police officers blocked her. “With the stench from my body, my dirty clothes na im this girl wan hug me.” I had even forgotten everything that happened between us. Immediately the police moved away from blocking her, she hugged me. “Shey na your babe nih,” the officer said. She freed me and stared into my eyes with pity. Tears rolled down my eyes as we sat. “5 minutes ohh,” one of the officers said. I asked her where she had been all the while. She said she was in Enugu and had gotten a job at the Bank. She now works in a bank. Na there she come dey narrate wetin happen to her the time wey I give her money for her mama surgery. The police officer close by said the time was up and I need to be taken back into the cell. Na so Adaobi bring out N500 from her pulse come give them.
Na so dem begin hail her for their come free me with her. Adaobi said that even the money I gave to her for the surgery, when they embarked on the first phase for her mother’s eye, after the surgery, her mom went blind immediately. Two weeks later she died. “Me sef come dey blame myself.” “The money wey I make for yahoo yahoo, I no use am do better thing.” People I gave to, the money didn’t solve their problems but rather led them into more problems, disaster.” Adaobi said they later left Lagos and moved to Enugu, she and her family. I told her that I later tried her number and it was no longer going through. I even came back to their place in Lagos and I was told they had moved out of the compound. “She said she lost her phone, and she wanted to contact me but after the burial of her mom, she was so devastated and heart broken. When she got a new phone, she didn’t retrieve the old mobile line back. She changed number and finally got a job at a new generation bank in Enugu.” After much talk about old time, she told me how she got to know about what happened. That it was one of Nuella’s siblings that called to tell her that I had been arrested because I used her sister for ritual. Na so tears rolled down my cheeks again.
I told Adaobi that I never killed Nuella. She only came to visit me at Ibadan and we were on our way back to Abeokuta when the accident occurred. She said she believed me but she was highly disappointed in what I had done. “So I was into internet scam all those moment but I lied to them that I was into forex trading and online business.” Na so she begin blast me ooo. Adaobi wey dey play gentle and friendly as we dey talk come begin scold me. I even knelt down and asked to be forgiven for deceiving them. She said it’s only God that can forgive me and not her. I even ask that she help so I could be released. She said she had already gone to see the family (Nuella’s family) and releasing me was in the process. I was happy, after 5 months. So I go see outside. But she said that she was still begging the family to consider me. She encouraged me to remain hopeful and prayerful. I couldn’t tell her what I had gone through all those years but I had learnt my lessons. She left and I was taken back to the cell
That night, I had a dream. In that dream I was going on a journey. I got to the place and got what I wanted. As I was returning back, I saw flood, large pool of water on the way. I began wondering, “was it not the road I passed few minutes back? How come there was a massive flood covering the route.” Because when I was coming on the journey, there was no single flood there. It was a dry land. But as I come dey return, water come full everywhere. I stood there thinking of what to do and how to cross to the other side. But I noticed something; the water was drawing nearer to me as I stood. As I was moving back the water would be drawing towards me and was expanding. Before I knew what was happening, it was just like a mighty wave pushed the water towards me with a force and it began swallowing me. I was deep into the water. I began shouting and crying why I was experiencing all those. As the water was about covering me, I woke up. I was sweating profusely. I prayed.
I remained strong. I had accepted responsibilities for my actions and all I had done, and I had learnt my lessons.
2 months later, I was inside the cell when I was called to take my clothes because I would be released. I was so happy. When I came out of the cell, at the stand of the police, I met Adaobi and a lawyer with Nuella’s father. Looking at Nuella’s dad, he wasn’t happy at all. His eyes were red. I walked towards him and knelt down infront of him. As I was begging to let “by gone be by gone.” He asked me to stand. The police gave me a form to sign and even the lawyer. They said I was free. After everything, I came to realize that Adaobi had been working so hard to make my bail possible.
She was even the one that got the lawyer. She said she had to plead with Nuella’s family to let go.
As we left the place after 7 months in the cell. The police sef no give me my phone and wallet. They said they don’t know where it is. I don already understand. Dem don sell those items. Adaobi had gotten a shirt and a trouser for me. She took me to one of the eatries. Na there bathroom I bath come change my cloth. I look my sef for mirror and realize that I had changed physically. But after the bath and wearing new clothes, I looked a bit better unlike when I looked tattered. We sat on one of the chairs as we ate. Adaobi asked if I knew why she fought for my release. I told her I didn’t know why. She said it wasn’t because I was not guilty but because I have a good heart. She tried to remind me what I did for her. The money I gave to them for their mother’s surgery. But unfortunately, their mother died. That single reason made her want to help because I didn’t really deserve help with so many atrocities I had committed. She encouraged me and asked me to come with her to Enugu that she would help me secure a job and admission. I had already told her that I was in FNG 2 (Final non graduating for second year running) and I missed the exams so there was no chance for me again in FUNAAB. If not for the 7 months in the cell, I would have written the 2 carryover courses and pass it. But as the thing be, I missed the exam so na “certificate of attendance” dem go issue to me.
Adaobi still insists that I come with her to Enugu, I should change environment. She said I should leave Ilorin. I told her I will think about it and get back to her. After chatting for some time, she wrote her phone number on paper and handed to me and she gave me N5,000 for my transport back to Ilorin.
I went to the motor park and went to a business center were I called Ali to tell him I had been released. He was so happy..
When I got to Ilorin, I told Ali all that happened and how Adaobi said I should relocate to Enugu. Ali encouraged me and said it was a good idea. He even said I should forget about the house I build in Ilorin. “Indeed he is right”. I wasn’t going to go back to the house I built. This was a new me. I was free. It looked as if heavy weight was lift off me. The house was old me which I built with dubious means. Ali began telling me that even the house had been deserted. My mom’s relative had left. He said he heard that 2 of them ran mad in that house and others had to run for their lives. And weed had taken over some sections of the house. I still insisted that I wasn’t going to go there. The house reminds me of past, weird and evil memories.
A month later, I took my things and moved to join Adaobi in Enugu. They had a family house which I stayed. Adaobi was planning for her marriage to her beloved man. She even introduced me to him. They were very supportive and helped me got a job as a clerical worker in one of the ministries. She even helped register and paid my school fees at the National open university (NOUN) were I gained admission to start all over again.
Few months later, I got a message on my whatsapp. When I checked it, it was from an international number. The message read;
“Guy how far, this nah Uchenna, U.C money. I dey Yanke now. Lets talk business”
Immediately I saw it, I checked the display picture and it was indeed Uchenna my former friend. I felt like replying but something said I should ignore it. I just ignored the message.
Two days later, another message came in from the number telling me he has business worth millions to discuss with me. Something in me told me it was a temptation and I shouldn’t yield in. I looked at the message for a while and deleted it. I removed the sim and destroyed it. I went and bought another sim with another number. “Gbadebo has truly changed. I didn’t want to go back to my old ways. I have a new life and a new me. All my mates we started together had gone far ahead of me; but I had learnt my lessons and moving forward to a better life and a better tomorrow.