How can a perfect life come crashing without warning? Why? Why? Why?
We did everything right. Well, almost everything. We ate well, exercised, prayed and even set up charities. What else could we have done? We don’t smoke, drink or abuse drugs. Yet this happens.
You know the funny thing, if I was told it will, I could have bet my whole life it could never happen.
So why did it? Better still, why did God allow it to happen? I need an answer and I need it now.
However, I am constantly told, “Losing faith in God is not the solution”. Rather, Tammy says. So, will someone please tell me what the solution is? Otherwise, why not? Why wouldn’t I lose faith? After all, the promises of God in the bible about no harm coming to those who trust in him. Hmm, that’s rich. Am sorry, it’s been a while since I wrote in this diary, I’m not sure where I start, or how I explain what befell us, but I guess I finally realised sharing all this might just help someone else going through the same thing.
Have you ever had a perfect life? Money, family, good health, a fantastic career and suddenly the carpet gets pulled from under you? Well, that’s what happened to us.
Wow, venting like this makes me feel better, cos I can say exactly how I feel and no one is asking me not to talk or think like that. And to think of it, why wouldn’t I? He didn’t deserve this, no one does.
Oh, am sorry, am just going on and on and you are wondering what happened? Well, you are not alone. Am still wondering as well. What happened? When did it all go wrong, or how did it all go so wrong? Why did it have to happen to us, of all people? We are nice people, don’t cause harm to anyone, and live a responsible life. Oh no, am so confused. It’s been a few months and now I can concentrate on something else. Before now, that wasn’t possible. Our lives have changed so much. First, we had to give up so much of our lives just to deal with this tragic occurrence.
To be sincere, I’ve missed you all writing in the diary, going about our business and venting when needed.
Tammy, senator Muyi, Fatima, Kola, and my FIL all have been a blessing, note I didn’t include my MIL who has grown from a Torn in my side to a dagger in my heart. But that gist is for another time. For now, I need to fill you into what’s been going on ….hmmm
Chapter 2, Day 2
First, I need to start from the beginning as if it’s just happening. That way you would understand what’s been going on.
Casting your minds back to chapter 1 of our diary, it ended with Mr and I seeing a counsellor and sorting out the issues in our marriage. This was after the stint in the village with his parents when all our properties and money were seized and frozen before FATIMA could retrieve our passports.
Now, this is how chapter 2 of our lives began. A few weeks after we settled down in Dubai, everything was going rosy, Aakil incorporated a position in his company for Mr and Kola, so they went to work every day and Tammy, I and Toke, spent time in her boutique in Dubai mall. Aakil had gotten her a Louis Vuitton franchise, and we resumed there every morning, sitting mostly in the backroom office, watching customers go and come from the 40-inch security camera’s screen. As for the children, I enrolled them in the best American private school that all diplomats’ kids attended. Life was good we saw ourselves settling in for the long haul. Visions of going back to Lagos or Abuja in Nigeria seldom crossed our minds.
By the end of March, however, our lives turned upside down.
That faithful day, I remember it was a Friday, I and the girls had booked a SPA weekend at Burj Arab Hotel and the boys were off to Abu Dhabi for Polo. Both groups had made a weekend of our pleasures. Also, the children had a couple of birthday parties to attend and besides; they were all spending the weekend having a sleepover in the King’s palace with their cousins.
So around 10 am, when the phone rang just as we were about to depart for our respective retreats, no one could have expected that the call would begin a different chapter in our lives.
And as Mr picked up the call, and we watched his demeanour change from excited to utter disbelief, then panic, even I knew whatever he was being told, wasn’t something we could fix from Dubai and I was right.
As Mr dropped the phone, we could see tears form in his eyes behind all the panic and shock written all over his face. It took him a few seconds to respond to all our questions; “What’s going on?” “Are you okay “, etc? Mr finally looked from me to Kola and back to Me, then he blurted out words I could never imagine I would hear “Honey, my parents have been Kidnapped” ……hmmmm
MR- The strange thing about life is you get to an age where you have everything worked out in your head. We all do it. We sit down, plan and decide what we want our lives to be like. Sometimes they are modelled on what we’ve seen others become, or what we’ve watched or read about. Mine was simple. I wanted to be rich, and successful, marry an amazing woman, have a couple of kids and live an amazing life with my family. What I forgot to ask for was peace, happiness, and a long healthy life.
Let’s start with the Peace part. I believe I had a lot of peace in my life, finishing school, getting married to the woman of my dreams, and starting a firm with my best friend who later turned out to be my brother, priceless. Then becoming a member of the federal House of Representatives, which I must admit wasn’t very peaceful. I remember the times we were in exile in London when one crazy drug dealer wanted me dead. The girlfriend stalker, my trips to Malaysia to save my brother David, the operations my near-death experience, thinking Mrs was leaving me and so on.
So, I can not complain. I’ve had a relatively peaceful life, full of happiness, joy and sometimes sadness, but sadness seems to be winning for some time now.
I honestly felt I had left all my troubles behind when we came to Dubai and left our stress behind in Nigeria. Aakil made Kola and me directors in one of his companies that dealt with international trade in Africa, he also paid us a generous salary and gave us shares and other perks. Mrs also settled down well. She was planning to work on getting a partnership between her NGO and a world-famous hospital to carry out our free operations in Nigeria and it was all going well. Tammy joined a Christian travelling ministry that went around the UAE Helping people who wanted to praise Christianity find a place to worship. The children also started school and nursery everything was great.
I would exaggerate if I say we never thought about Nigeria, but after they finally released all our assets, we already had a much saner life in Dubai, so we opted to stay on. But on this faithful day, Aakil, Kola and I were on our way to the helipad to take a helicopter ride to Abu Dhabi to watch a polo match and play polo for the first time. Mrs, Toke and Tammy were on their way to the Spa weekend they had been excited about all week when my phone rang.
At the first ring, I saw it was one of my cousin’s callings, one man I had become acquainted with while we stayed in the village, so my first instinct was to ignore it because I felt, what could he want besides asking me for money. That wasn’t urgent. I could call back later. But he called back again, and I ignored it, the 3rd time which came immediately after the 1st and 2nd, I picked up and was about to Yell, “Am busy”, when I heard him sobbing. Instantly, I calmed down and asked him, “Bro, what’s the matter”? By now my heart was racing and I was expecting bad news. And he sighed as if hesitating to tell me, until I raised my voice a bit and said, “What’s going on? “, then he said, “Brother, Mama and Papa went to Uncle Abel’s chieftaincy title ceremony in Edo state and o the way back,” he paused, then I yelled “What happened?” crying he responded, they kidnap them and we don’t know where they took them”.
On hearing that, I suddenly turned numb, my knees buckled, and I dropped the call and turned to Mrs and told them what happened. It took Kola and Aakil holding me steady and guiding me to the sofa. Kola then redialled our cousin in the village and asked for more details.
My dad had chartered a commercial vehicle to take 8 of them to the chieftaincy ceremony. Uncle Able lived across the street from my parents. He built his house there and even though he was from Edo state, he lives in Ondo state. He and my parents got close when they moved back and while we were they I watched my dad and Uncle Abel discussing everything from politics, and marriage to life over some fried bush meat and palm wine.
So, my father had taken neighbours and friends. After the ceremony around 7 pm. Uncle Abe invited everyone to spend the night at his home in Edo but the driver of the chartered bus said he had to be back that night because his child’s naming ceremony was the next morning. So, against my mother’s protest, of course, they got on the road around 8,30 pm. Ideally, the journey was about 1hr and 30 mins maximum 2hrs, so we expected them to be back around 10 pm. Meanwhile, my dad called my cousin to ask him to ensure the gate man had petrol in the generator and the cook made dinner because he couldn’t get through to them.
So, my cousin went to my parents’ house, gave the instructions and awaited my parents’ arrival, knowing that my dad will reward him with some cash. While waiting, he fell asleep until the gateman awakened him at 1 am asking when my parents were supposed to arrive. My cousin, realising that they were about 2hrs over, tried to call my dad but his phone was switched off. He tried my mum’s same thing. Then he went to the other passengers’ relations, got their phone no’s and also tried the same thing. He even found the bus driver’s house and met his wife, worried, saying she has also been trying to call her husband. So, he sat with her for a while, contemplating what to do. By 5 am, he got 3 other men with him and they retraced my parents’ steps by going to Edo and seeing if any accident occurred on the way. They had been driving for 45 minutes when they suddenly saw my parents’ bus by the side of the road. They stopped and approached; the bus was empty, but they could see travel bags scattered all around it. Unfortunately, no one was in the immediate vicinity to ask questions. Just as they were contemplating what to do, they heard a rustle in the bushes behind them and a mourning. On investigation, they found the man who travelled with my parents. He was bleeding badly and had a gash on his shoulder. So, they rushed him into their car and took him to the hospital. By that afternoon, treated and given powerful painkillers, he narrated what happened…….hmmmmm
2ND CHAPTER DAY 3
MRS-I couldn’t believe what Mr just said, Kidnap? All I could think of was, why would they be kidnapped? I know that’s a silly question, but I don’t know if this only happens to me, but the minute I get to the airport and the plane departs, I forget everything going on in Nigeria. Am not sure if this is a conscious or unconscious effort, but I do. I guess I should rephrase that. I conveniently forget about what’s going on with everyone else, besides what directly concerns me. Truth be told, I was aware kidnappings had become a regular occurrence, but when you hear about it, it goes in one ear and out of the other because the kidnapped person has no relationship with you. Now to hear that my Father-in-law and Mother-in-law have been kidnapped, hit home pretty quickly.
As I watched Mr, stagger and being helped to the sofa by Kola and Mr, I rushed over and wrapped my arms around him as he cried. For a minute, we all stood there, not sure what the next move was. We all knew paying a ransom was not a problem, but finding out where they were was. After a few seconds, Kola was on the phone with their cousin and we all waited patiently as he asked what exactly happened.
To be honest, my father in Law’s kidnap bothered me more. One, he was not in his best health wise and second; he was a lovely man. I silently prayed he will be fine. As for my mother-in-law, I also prayed they found her alive, but if one was to be found, am sure you all know who I will root for.
I know some won’t understand why I think this way. I do try, believe it or not, I ask God all the time to give me the grace to forgive all she’s put me through and he has, but every time I forgive, she comes up with something else. But all that aside, there’s one particular instance, I still struggle with. One thing I told no one, not even Mr, I will tell you all now. Before I do, let’s flashback to the start of my relationship with her.
My mother-in-law (MIL) Never felt I was good enough for her soon. The first time she met me, as you all remember, Mr had told me his mother was deeply traditional. She believed the definition of a good wife was a lady who could cook well and take care of the household. Knowing fully well I couldn’t even boil water; I wasn’t looking forward to her visit. But Mr hired a chef and got him to show me how to cook for a couple of weeks. And the cook went through everything from frying simple omelettes to frying plantain, and making a pepper sauce to the more complicated soups like vegetable and okra. He also showed me how to cook yam and make all the other foods. The final one and the one I knew I could never figure out was how to pound yam.
Oh my gosh, I felt it was a cruel and unusual punishment just to eat, let’s not even ad how unhygienic it is. Standing over food, sweating and hitting the food until it molded together. Then bending sideways and wringing it around to make it smooth? God forbid, I would never do that. Thank God it’s different now. God bless the person who invited Poundo from the pot. Pour and Mix. And before anyone goes on, I know it doesn’t taste the same…the poundo tastes better. Ha! Ha!
Anyway, Mr believing I could now cook felt reassured his mother would have no trouble approving me. Why was his mother’s blessing of me so important? I do not know. But he’s not me. So, let’s move on. Anyway, before that fateful day arrived, I had discussed it with my sisters in crime, Toke, Tammy and Pamela, and they felt this was too much hassle. Besides, I had some doubts in me about Mr If you remember the Babs saga? We will get there soon. However, my sister in crime gave me a few suggestions, but I came up with mine, anyway. My mother-in-law wants a wife who can cook well. I knew just how to achieve that. And so, I made my plans……hmmmmm
MR-I couldn’t believe this was happening. I knew I had to get myself together to listen to what my cousin was saying, so I snapped out of my giddy self and listened. By now the phone was on speaker and so my cousin narrated what the injured man had said:
“Uncle Abel’s chieftaincy title party ended around 8 pm. He offered them accommodation in his house in the village, but your father wasn’t comfortable sleeping in a room with anyone else. The room they offered your mum, and he was to house some young children and their mother as well. One would think your mum would be the one objecting, but she didn’t mind sharing. She even told your dad they could wake up early and go shower when they got back home and she will leave the bed for him because of his bad back and sleep on a duvet on the floor beside the woman and her children but your father bluntly refused and insisted we had they had to leave that night.
And to add credence to his insistence, first, he used the driver of the hired bus as an excuse, saying he wouldn’t want him to miss his child’s naming ceremony, but my mum pointed out that they could hire another bus. Your dad got cross, insisting he would not entrust his life to a driver he knew nothing about.
Anyway, eventually your father garnered support from a couple of fellow travellers and the journey began. To start, it wasn’t bad at all. They had taken some food and drinks with them, so everyone ate and talked about the party and what they enjoyed or didn’t about it. Everything was fine until then. They even all got invited to the driver’s child’s naming ceremony the next morning.
About an hour into the trip, when most were dosing off, besides my father, who was seated upfront with the driver to ensure he stayed awake and kept his eyes on the road, suddenly, they noticed a type of blockade ahead. The driver slowed down, believing it was a police checkpoint. These had become common sights on the highways. Mainly in place to deter armed robbers, smugglers, etc. So as the driver slowed down, he could make out a couple of men in black flashing their touch lights for him to stop. And so, he pulled over to the side of the road just as he got to the blockade.
By now everyone sleeping, woke up and one after the other asked, “What’s going on? Why have we stopped?” But before we could answer their questions, several people jumped out of the bushes and surrounded the bus. Everyone on the bus screamed apart from your father. Your mum and two other women were crying, the men were all speaking at once, and the driver, obviously in shock, sat there with his hands up. That’s when the door to the bus was opened by the men outside and they asked everyone to get out. At first, no one moved, then the man who had opened the door raised a huge matchete and yelled, “Everyone out now”.
With speed and alacrity, everyone headed for the door, pushing, crying, begging for their lives, even the driver, instead of using his door, jumped through the space in between the 2 seats in front and scrambled out of the back door with all of them. The only one that didn’t move or say anything was your father. He just sat there in front, looking straight ahead. By now, the lead man was getting more and more upset as he held open the front passenger’s door and kept yelling for your dad to alight, but to no avail. A few seconds passed, and he summoned 2 of his men to drag your dad out, which they did amid protests from your mum and the man narrating the story. They dragged him out and made him kneel, and then the lead man walked up to your dad and asked why he was being disobedient. Your dad still did not say a word. Things got eerie when the lead guy then went into a speech, “Old man, I am the law here, I speak you jump, who do you think you are”. Everyone was begging the guy to let them go, not to harm them, saying they didn’t have any money. The lead guy on hearing that stopped yelling at your father turned to them and said, “If you don’t have money, your family will find it and if they do not. He paused, sighed, then lifted his hand and moved it from one side of his throat to another. Everyone fell silent, knowing full well it meant their throats would be slit. Realising his point had been made, he refocused on your father, giving him a lecture in obedience, “Old man, you want to be brave. I will teach you a lesson”. Once again, your mother moved forward, knelt and begged the man. In addition, everyone was perplexed, he was so eloquent, and he was an educated person. While other passengers were pleading with the lead man, he said he was going to teach your dad a lesson about disobedience and just as he raised his machete to hit your dad, the man narrating jumped in front of him and the Machette landed on his shoulder and he passed out. He didn’t wake until my cousin arrived on the scene…..hmmmm
The New Mr and Mrs Diary… 2ND CHAPTER, Day 4
MRS- Listening to the narration of what happened to my Parents in law brought tears to my eyes, especially my lovely FIL. He didn’t deserve all this. After the call ended, I pointed out that David had not been informed, he was already in Nigeria. Maybe he could make some enquiries before we decide what to do. Kola agreed with me but Mr felt informing David now was pointless. He might do more harm than good. The David he knows might recruit a truck of boys to go knocking on doors and beating up people near the kidnap site until someone confessed they were involved. And while he is doing that, word will get to the real kidnappers and God knows what they will do to his parents. Anyway, after Aakil and Kola huddled around Mr, planning the next move. Tammy, Toke, and I just sat there, praying silently for a solution.
So, to continue with my previous narration, I was taking you back to my first encounter with my MIL:
So, I decided since my MIL wants homemade food, I will get her some. As a result, I went to a restaurant introduced to me and I made a deal. On the first day, my MIL arrived, and her first order was Yam and peppered egg for breakfast. No problem, I called the restaurant to give them my order and viola, it arrived. Now you must wonder how I convinced my MIL I was the cook who prepared the food. Well, I had a plan. So, I didn’t just order food, I instructed them to bring all the ingredients that went into preparing it. I scattered the ingredients around the kitchen. The yam peels went off the kitchen table. Eggshells too. Tomatoes, pepper and onion were displayed in a bowl and I poured the food brought into pots and put the gas on. So, the smell of frying and cooking filled the kitchen. One note of caution: I also gave the restaurant, come through the back of the house, don’t ring the bell, just send me a text when you arrive and I will open the back door. In addition, I wore an apron and sprinkled water on my face like I had been sweating. I felt that would certainly look more convincing.
And believe it or not, it worked for several days, until one evening when she invited her friend over and ask for pounded yam.
Now getting the pounded yam over wasn’t a problem, the soups came, and so, did the mortar and pestle, I took some of the pounded yam, and smothered it on the pestle and around the inside of the mortar to give an impression they had been used to pound the yam. I also put the soup on fire. All this was easy because I persuaded Mr to take his mum out to the supermarket that day, so there was little chance of her walking in on me staging the kitchen.
Anyway, trouble started when her friends arrived, and I served the food. As they ate one of my MIL’s friends Sisi Boss, commented on the meal by saying “this food tastes nice but it tastes exactly like Mama Risi’s Buka food, does your daughter-in-law work there?” of course my MIL took offence to her friend’s statement. She told her off for thinking her son’s fiancé works in a Buka. No judgement intended. But where I got suspicious was when the other friend requested Yam flour and before I could panic my MIL looked at me and said to her friend, “Ore mi, please eat it, we do not have yam flour and besides the poor girl has been slaving all day to get this food ready for us”. Oh my gosh, I should have been happy and thank full for her quick intervention, saving me from humiliation. Yam flour? How would I have made it, if I called the restaurant, it would take ages etc but I wasn’t relieved? Instead, I was sweating and, in a panic, because on arrival my MIL had brought us an entire bag of Yam flour, cassava flakes, dried fish, etc. Why led to my panic mood, why would she say we didn’t have any Yam flour? I was about to find out.
Finally, mealtime was over, the ladies thanked me, complimented my cooking skills once more and they retreated to the guest house with my MIL. Once they left, I tidied up and retreated to our bedroom to await her call, I knew it was coming. Main while Mr had gone to the office with Kola to meet a client. So, I called my sisters in crime. They told me not to worry, once we tried guessing what made my MIL lie, especially since we weren’t close. In the end, Toke mentioned there was no reason to assume, as assumptions were the mother of all F’ Ups, so I laid down closed my eyes and pretended to sleep, after all my mum used to say there is no point dying before you are killed……hmmmmm
MR- As soon as my cousin finished narrating the ordeal of my parents, Kola thanked him and said we will call back within an hour. Once he ended the call, there was an eerie silence in the room. Nobody talked and everyone sat still. You could hear a pin drop. We were all confused, worried, and sad at the same time. This news was going to change everything. Our primary concern was the lack of communication from the kidnappers. If they needed money, it was available, but the kidnappers had not even made contact and it was going on for 2 days. Why?
At that point, I told Kola; that we need to go back to Nigeria. There was no point sitting here in Dubai, wondering and waiting for a call. If we were there, things could speed up better. As I mentioned “go back”, Mrs looked at me, trying to control her disappointment that I had to leave. It laced her eyes with tears, and her lips were quivering. I could see she wanted to object, but decided not to. Finally, it was Aakil who finally broke the silence by asking, “What’s the plan when you get there?” Kola responded, “The first thing is to go to Ondo state and find out about previous kidnappings around there. When was a call for ransom received and where were the kidnapped victims retrieved from once I paid the ransom? The local police usually have all this information. We will start with them. As long as large amounts of money exchange hands, we should get our answers. Once this is established. Then we need someone to go finds them”.
What do you mean go find them, I asked. He then reminded me of the man Uncle J sent to extract me from South Sudan, Mr Tango. A former special forces guy who ran a black op team of mercenaries whose speciality to erase or retrieve. And when I say erase, I don’t mean the stuff that comes on top of a pencil. Kola’s idea was fabulous. I remember Mr Tango found me in a place where militants hid, he brokered a fake deal, and his team stormed the place and got me out. If anyone could find my parents, he could.
I felt some relief and hope that they would find my parents alive. Although it crossed my mind that these could be my political enemies but then the thought floated out again when I asked myself why they would kidnap everyone. If this was about my parents, they would have just kidnapped them alone. So I went through my phone, and fortunately, I found Tango’s no. We contemplated whether to call him now or once we knew where my parents were being held. But Aakil said we should call him now, tell him our plan and get him to be on standby in Ondo state, so he and his team are ready to go in immediately.
I dialled his number. On the first ring, he picked up and said, “how did you get this no”. All I had to say was “Uncle J”. He dropped the phone and 5 seconds later called back with a different no and asked, “What can Tango do for you?” ……hmmmmm
The New Mr and Mrs Diary…2ND CHAPTER, Day 5
MRS: As I was saying; I waited patiently in my room, trying to figure out what my MIL would say. I even crazily thought she might have fallen in love with me, but even I had to say NAAH!!!, not likely. Eventually, after waiting for a couple of hours, she came upstairs into my room and sat next to the bed. I propped myself up and welcomed her. Anyway, she stared at me for a few seconds then said, “look, young lady, only God knows what my son sees in you, you are lazy, untidy and don’t look too smart either. Yes, you are pretty, but what has that got to do with anything? Pretty girls are a dime a dozen, and what good would it be when you have children and can’t even take care of them? Am sure you want to know why I jumped in when my friend asks for yam flour. “
At this point I was too shocked to speak, so I just nodded and she continue, “yesterday morning when I was coming from the guest chalet to have breakfast, I don’t know what I was looking for but something made me open up the trash can you have outside the kitchen door and right there I saw containers soiled with pepper and vegetable, that’s when I knew you did not cook the meal I had the night before, you bought it. I intentionally kept quiet because I felt, that if this is what my son wants, that’s what he will get and, as we say, where I came from, what a child wishes to eat will not choke him. My standing up for you with Ore mi was mainly to protect myself, not you. The shame will be on me. They will say, look at her, her son married a woman who can’t cook. That would upset me and I just couldn’t let you do that to me. So, you see, this (pointing to herself and me) isn’t love, I don’t like you and am not sure I never will, but I have no choice but to tolerate you. As long as you do not come in between me and my son, we will be fine. But the day I feel you have or are trying to come between us, then you will see my red eyes” as she ended, she calmly got up, wished me a good day and walked out of our bedroom.
Her words almost made me say I was done with my marriage, how was I going to cope with a MIL like this? My mother was easy to handle if anything she craved and begged for my attention, but I thought about my dear grandmother and how well she raised me, I knew she won’t be happy if I work out of my marriage just because I feel threatened. She will say to me, “my darling, don’t think about what your MIL said to you, you focus on yourself. Don’t let anyone change you. You are kindhearted and God-fearing. Show her love, forgive her, and your actions will melt her heart, and most importantly, don’t tell your husband. “I knew her very well after all she practically raised me while my mother was busy flying all over the world spending my father’s money. So, I took the advice my grandmother would have given if she were still alive and tried to win my MIL over.
And until this day, I told no one. That was my first impression of her and so far, nothing has changed between us. And trust me, I have tried. I know she doesn’t approve of our affluent lifestyle but we all live it together. Mr buys them a first-class holiday ticket every year with $5,000 spending money. They haven’t been in a couple of years since my FIL got weak and complained he can’t sit on a flight for long. But they have a brand-new jeep, driver maids, lovely big hose, new clothes and generous allowances every month. Excellent health care, any slight problem Mr flies them abroad and I love them like mine, especially my dear FIL.
I remember the first time I met my father-in-law, he gave me a big fatherly hug and whispered into my ears, “At last, our son has found a queen to knock him into shape and keep him in line. He is an amazing son, but he needs a strong, kind, beautiful woman like you to give him direction. Welcome to our family, my daughter.” This was a man who just met me for 5 seconds and from then on, I knew I had gained the father I never got to enjoy…….hmmmmmm
MR- Confirming we had Mr Tango, the eraser and retriever, was the first hurdle. Making our way back to Nigeria as soon as possible was the 2nd. But that also solved itself when Aakil suggested we take his jet and go find my parents. There was no time to plan or decide what was next. We needed to get to Ondo state as quickly as possible, and this jet was getting us there. We would fly straight to Akure airport in Ondo state, where a car would wait and then we go by road to my parent’s house where Tango and his men will be waiting.
Instantly, we changed and packed clothes. Kola and I kissed our Mrs goodbye, and we drove away to the airport. As I left, I watched Mrs face, and I knew she wanted to say so muclothes.ch but there was no time to waste. We had to go now. Our parents had been taken for 2 days now and the longer they keep them without requesting a ransom, the more likely it is that they haven’t survived the ordeal. But I did not want to think like that.
Before we left, I had also called David. He busted out crying. I was taken aback, He’s hardly ever emotional unless it concerns money, so hearing him wail on the other end of the phone asking me “Why them?” really threw me off balance. But eventually, he calmed down, and I told him to meet us in Ondo State.
The journey was not bad, kola advised we slept because we won’t be getting a lot of sleep until we find our parents, so after a light snack and some hot chocolate, I laid down on the long leather couch in the plane and shut my eyes. My mind wandered, and I saw my parents tied down, sitting on the grass crying out my name. Suddenly tears flowed down my eyes and I shuddered. But eventually, I think the tears helped because I slept off until Kola woke me up and said 20 minutes to land.
The plane landed around 7 pm and everywhere was pitch black. Except for the tower and tarmac lights. It was nothing like the airports we had landed at before. Kola had called a friend and asked him to pick us up at the airport. Anyway, the pilot taxied to the side of a building and stopped. The air hostess opened the door and just then a flood of headlights came on one after the other and we saw some people walking toward us. And lo-and-behold, it was Mr Tango and a few of his men and David.
Wow, how did David link them all up? Mr Tango‘s men collected our bags and led us to the waiting jeeps, a convoy of 6 jeeps. I wanted to ask why the change in plan but Mr Tango already explained, “The word has spread across town that a private jet from Dubai was about to land here, every criminal around would wait to see who flies n and where they are going. There is no way you won’t be followed and more than likely get attacked before you get to your destination, so we are here to take you home. Oh, also we sent your friend away who was picking you up “. And just like that, I understood his point.
Anyway, we drove the just over an hour journey in a convoy by 8.30 pm we were all sited in my father’s compound. David had arranged the provision of food and drinks, so food was served and we planned. And David surprised me again by saying he already got the information about where the kidnappers could be. “3 places and Mr Tango’s men will lead us there,” he said. How he got all this information so fast, I could not understand. I had only called him on our way to the airport, so he had just over 8 hours, to drop everything he was doing, get in a car or on a plane, fly here, interrogate the police, and come with Mr Tango to pick us up. How did that happen?……hmmmmm
The New Mr and Mrs Diary…2ND CHAPTER Day 6
MRS- Getting the call that Mr and Kola had arrived at their parents’ house safely gave Tammy and me some comfort. Since they both left, we haven’t been sleeping well. Toke has been her wonderful self, trying to make sure we take our minds off it but that wasn’t enough. As things stood, Tammy and I already decided that we couldn’t be here in Dubai, while Mr and Kola were in Ondo state trying to find their parents. So, we left Mr and Kola out of it and asked Aakil to please get us to Lagos. The plan was simple. Once we arrive, we would find our way to Ondo state and surprise them. We knew they would be very upset but eventually calm down. That was the only way. Besides, I was at my wit’s end every morning worrying about them.
So, 2 days after they left, Tammy and I flew back on emirates Airlines to Lagos. Aakil wasn’t happy. He didn’t want us to leave, so we bought our tickets and left. But at least we got him to hold off for a day before he informs Mr and Kola that we left. By then we would be in Lagos and there will be nothing they can do.
Arriving the next morning, we took an Uber to our place, having left the children and Sunita back with Toke, which Aakil insisted on. Tammy and I stayed at my place. We spent the first night resting and calling a few people who could get us security experts to Ondo state. The first call was to Colonel Isa, a close friend of Uncle J. I told him the situation because he said he couldn’t help unless I told him why I had to go to Ondo State. It would have been easier to fly a commercial into Akure if we had someone who could pick us up from the airport, but we didn’t and commercial transport wasn’t an option. So eventually Col Isa asked me to give him a day or two. First, he had to look into the situation on the roads and then get back.
So, we waited. All this while we had not called Mr and Kola until the next evening when Mr called on my Nigerian no and as I answered the call, no greetings nothing, just yelling, “What were you thinking? Why are you here, don’t I have enough stress already, Bla Bla Bla.” I just listened and when he realised, I wasn’t responding, he stopped yelling and apologised, explaining that He was just worried and didn’t think leaving Tamara and Seyibam with Toke and Sunita was a good idea. At this point, I apologised and said I just couldn’t sit in Dubai worrying about him. As I spoke to Mr, I heard Tammy apologising as well. I guess she was also getting tongue-lashing from Kola.
Lashing done with, and not mentioning our plan to come over to Ondo state, the conversation drifted into what the developments were. And after 30 minutes of talking Mr and Kola bade us good night and dropped the calls. None the wiser that Tammy and I would turn up within the next couple of days….hmmmm
MR-The past 2 nights went like a mirage, am not sure I slept for over 2 hours in total. Since we arrived, Mr Tango has insisted that we stick to the plan he drew up. What was the plan, you ask? Well, since my dear brother David already coordinated with the local police and they informed him of the 3 likely locations of the kidnappers, Tango and his men hit them simultaneously. Tango had called for reinforcement of 15 additional men, coupled with the already 12 men he had with him. They were going to divide themselves into 3 groups with the local pole force men and storm the 3 locations at the same time. Preferable at night around 1 am, when the kidnappers’ guard will be down. As Tango reeled out the plan, I had questions. If they go in guns blazing, what happens if our parents become causalities? I felt it was not a foolproof plan. Nobody knew the exact position our parents were being held in, whether they were in a room, outside, or in a cage. Were they tied up, left to room or watched 24 hours? How could tango and his men storm the place when they were not sure if they had men who stayed awake all night to watch out for intruders? And as I raised these issues Kola supported me but to my dismay, my dear brother David kept trying to belittle me by calling me timid and saying Tango and his men were professionals, they know how to storm hideouts, he even mocked me that wasn’t it this same Tango that stormed the hideout where I was held in South Sudan and got me out?
I could not believe he was taking things with so much levity. This was our parent’s life at stake. Our father could barely walk properly not to talk about our mum. Besides, my situation in South Sudan was different. There I had to run, jump, and save myself once Tango and his men stormed the castle. I was being held in. Would our parents be able to run from gunfire if they tied them down? Unfortunately, everything question I had was shut down by Tango aided by David. At that point, I could have beaten him up if I could, but I knew David always had the upper hand when it came to us fighting as children.
So, we set the plan. That night, in the early hours of the morning, Tango and his men will storm the 3 sites. And to make matters worse, David offered to go with Tango and, to our surprise, Tango okayed it. Kola and I looked at each other, knowing nothing we could say would make David change his mind. I was sure he wanted to take all the glory for rescuing our parents. But what bothered me the most was with no ransom demand and no communication; I was thinking this was no ordinary kidnapping and so did Kola….hmmm
The New Mr and Mrs Diary, 2ND CHAPTER Day 7
MRS- Tammy and I were restless. With so much time on our hands, all we could do was twiddle our fingers and wait patiently for Col Isa to call. When all of that waiting got too much, I suggested we go to the NGO to see what was going on.
When we moved to Dubai, I employed the services of an administrator to run the NGO. She was wonderful, just returned to Nigeria from England, where she had been in charge of a care facility. She bought a wealth of expertise and experience, having worked in the UK health sector for 23 years. As well as being a trained psychologist, she was a registered nurse, counsellor and physiotherapist. She had worked in the children’s department of Great Ormond Street Hospital, kings college hospital and Guys and St Thomas Hospital, all in London. Before coming back to Lagos, she ran a care nursing and residential home for 6 years. So, I knew the NGO was in great hands. The staff weren’t aware I was in the country and my initial plan was to keep it that way, but now that we were going crazy with just waiting, I had to occupy myself with something useful. So, we went to the NGO.
I knew everything at the NGO was running well because from Mary the manager, I had weekly updates of the goings on, from the accountant, I got updates on the donations and spending and from my dear friend Mrs Kay, who filled me in on the goings on every week she popped into spy on them.
Now I haven’t told you about Mrs Kay. So let me fill you in. Mrs Kay and I met coincidentally at the hairdresser. Some years ago, I had gone to get my nails done and there she was speaking loudly on the phone complaining about her financial status not minding the staff and all of us getting our nails done, we could hear her say, “Mum, please leave me alone, the man you forced me to marry is rich but very stingy, he gets his office staff to buy food for my home. They buy me clothes and toiletries, and all I get is 20,000 naira to hold, “in case you need to bribe police officers when you drive recklessly” he says. Can you believe he even buys the children’s clothes? He buys everything we use in that house, including what I need. The only money I see is that miserly 20,000 nairas a month.” (She pauses, listening to her mum’s response, then continues). “Yes, I know I live in a mansion, and drive a jeep, but is that what I want to chop? Even when the children and I go abroad on holiday, he comes with us and buys everything himself. Restricting it to things he thinks I need not want. Mum, I’m tired” and she slams the phone down and everyone in the saloon is silent, as we all pretend; we were not listening. Then she turns to me and says, “Hi, my name is Kay. Can I have a word with you after our nails are done”? So, I say yes.
An hour later, sitting in her range rover vogue and she cries her eyes out. Then she stops, wipes away the tears and says, “My dear, I know you don’t know me, but I know you. You don’t notice me, I’ve seen you in this saloon 5 or 6 times. I need your help.” Help? I was taken aback, but asked how I could help. So, she sighs, takes a deep breath and says, “I want to meet your wonderful friends.” Wow, which ones I asked, and she says Pamela, Toke, Madam Mabel. She believed if she sat down with us, we could give her advice on how to get extra money from her husband. I could not fathom why she thought we could help. I also wondered how she knew all my friends. It was then she pointed out that the times she sees me in the salon, I am with 2 or all of them. Rarely did I come in on my own except for today.
So, after that day, I organised a meeting and low and behold, after we all got together. Dear Madam Mabel suggested she sell all the expensive things her husband buys her, to make money and she would be the broker. Advising her to pick this he bought a while back so he won’t be suspicious if he doesn’t see her wearing them. And lo-and-behold, Madam Mabel sold jewellery, designer bags and shoes, and even clothes, her husband bought for her, which she believed he won’t remember if they go missing. As a result, Mrs kay was liberated herself financially.
From that point on she became a close friend, but we lost contact when her husband moved the family to his village for a few years, stating his wife was getting out of hand when she couldn’t explain her sudden access to lots of money. He packed up Mrs Kay and her 3 children and banished them to his village house. Not just that, he stationed 5 guys there to make sure she didn’t come back to Lagos. He seized her phone, sacked her maids and left her to cook, clean and feed her children with the 5 security guys sent to watch her. The only thing was her husband sent foodstuff monthly and turned up once a month to make love to her and see his children. It was on one of these occasions she could finally sneak a letter to me, through her husband’s driver, who had taken pity on her.
In it, she outlined what was going on and begged me to come to rescue her from the clutches of her husband’s thugs. Uncle J, still with us, gave me 10 soldiers, and they went to the village, rescued Mrs Kay and her children and arrested the 5 guys. She hid in my women’s shelter for months. Her husband was none the wiser. After about 11 months there with her children, she decided she wanted mediation with her husband before she returns home to him.
My NGO puts these mediations in place for couples to come together with law enforcement and lawyers to pledge they won’t abuse, torture or continue to treat their partners as slaves and if they don’t stick to their agreement, they get arrested and sent to jail and lose all their assets to the aggrieved partner. This is documented, signed and sealed by the courts. So far, the effectiveness is 100%. And believe it or not, mediation has helped both women and men in abusive marriages …..hmmm
MR- Fruitless, one word to describe Tango’s well-laid-out plan. Am sorry if I sound so ungrateful, but as the saying goes, no one has a monopoly on knowledge. If they had listened to me, this won’t have happened. But my dear brother David wouldn’t hear of it.
Anyway, at 1 am that morning, Tango, his mercenaries, the local police and, of course, David in tow, left Kola and me at our parents’ house to go storm the 3 sites identified as possible hideouts for the kidnappers. Kola and I waited and prayed, hoping for the best. I silently prayed they won’t return with bad news, but turn up with our parents alive and well.
Around 4 am, we heard them arrive. Believe it or not, Kola and I sat outside in the compound awaiting their arrival. The first group to return was one of Tango’s boys, he said. They found a group of people in the location, but it was merely a farm settlement. Searches didn’t find any human beings held, just tubers of yam in storage. The second group returned, also led by one of Tango’s men with a similar story as the first group. Then around 5 am, Tango, David and the rest arrived, and they had a story. Even arriving with a man gagged and tied up. Seeing this man, we all waited patiently for them to explain why he was there.
Tango explained. They found a set of kidnappers holding 2 men, but not our parents. The guy they brought with them is the ringleader of that group of kidnappers and they intend to torture him until he confessed. He knew where the other kidnappers holding my parents were.
I could not believe this. 3 sites and 2 turn out to be farm settlements. Where did David get this bogus information from? So, I turned to him and asked. Him, not appreciative of my sarcastic tone, went into a tirade about how unappreciative I was. He had done his homework, inquired about the kidnapper’s hideout, and paid good money for the information. How was he to know the information would not produce positive results? I wasn’t hearing that; I know my brother. He takes nothing seriously in his life unless it involves his money.
While we were there arguing and trying to prove our respect points, we didn’t notice Kola’s phone ring and see him fall to his knees. It was not until Tango turned and stopped talking to me. I followed his gaze and saw Kola kneeling with his hands on his head and tears rolling down his eyes. My heart skipped a beat as I ran over and yelled, what’s wrong? It took me asking a few times before he finally said, “The kidnappers just called, they want 1 million dollars in 2 days or our parents die.”
At that point, everyone gasped, even Tango. I could hear him murmur, “That’s 500 million nairas”. For, I was finally relieved. Yes, it was a lot of money, but I wasn’t about to haggle with kidnappers who had our parents for 3 days now. God knows what condition they were being exposed to. If they want money, they will get it. All I wanted was proof of life. So, I asked Kola to try calling them back to ask for proof of life. He did, but the call went unanswered. So, he sent a text and a few minutes later, a short video of my parents waving and saying they were fine was uploaded to Kola’s WhatsApp. It was only a few seconds long, but that day’s newspaper displayed under their faces proved it was just recorded. They both looked tired and worn out. My dad, especially, didn’t look too good. I had to get them back immediately.
Relieved and excited that this ordeal was about to end, I called Aakil to update him. Although we could get the money here in Nigeria, the time it will take to convert the money to dollars would make it impossible to meet the deadline. So, Aakil was the only option. He had all his money in dollars, and after talking to him for a few minutes, he asked us to send him an account nowhere we want the money.
So, another text to the kidnappers’ phone requesting a bank account. And 4 minutes later it arrived, as Kola and I opened it and read it before sending it to Aakil. We froze in shock. The so-called local kidnappers operating out of the bushes of Ondo state had sent us a Swiss bank account no. What in God’s name was going on?……hmmmm