As soon as I stepped my feet in Borno, I knew I was cut out for blood. Let’s just say that I have always been at the fore front of bloody battles.
Three weeks earlier, I had been summoned by the General to lead a strike squad meant to retake a Military base that had been taken by Boko Haram in Galu.
“We believe you’re the best man for the job.” He said, studying my face.
“It’s an honour, Sir” I replied, concealing my humanity, my fear with a face that was neither a frown nor a smile.
I stood, saluted him, and headed for the exit.
“Soldier,” he called. I turned to him. “Don’t let your country down!”
I knew what it meant to serve the country. I had fought many battles for her; one year in Liberia, three in Serrie Leone and one more year in Somalia. All for my country.
Unlike previous occasions, the enemy was a domestic foe. It meant the task would be tough, and it was.
I spent only two days preparing my men with tactical talks. There was no time to waste; the fall of the base was already causing the country embarassment. A 30-man hit squad for a delicate mission that needed just about that number of men for its success. A re-enforcement would be sent a soon as we advance on the terrorists. That was the plan.
Captain Kabiru was my Lieutenant for this mission. He had bagged experience fighting the terrorists about a year earlier. His experience was vital, and he is one of the most intelligent officers I have ever met.
I had planned to re-take the base at nightfall but Captain Kabiru objected.
“I think it’s a bad idea, Colonel.”
“Why? Do you have a better one?” I queried.
He had a better one. The terrorists had a penchant for raiding villages during sand storms and he suggested we attack in the same manner. So, we took them by their own mischief.
We waited for about twelve hours for a sand storm. It was towards the evening. The soon was preparing to sleep after a whole day of natural wicked scourging.
With our eyes and nose well covered, we launched our attack. We plundered the base. Maiming everyone of them. To add more icing to the victory, we lost no soldier!
It would have passed for one of those unmemorable days of victory save for the demise of the young lad, whose face still appears in my dreams.
He emanated from nowhere. Dressed like the terrorists; military pants and deep green camouflage shirt. Unlike others, his head was unwrapped, revealing his curly hair. He was fair in a way that made him red. I could swear he wasn’t above 15.
He had no weapon. The wind seemed to have blown ominous sand into his eyes. Wherever he was running to, it appeared he was searching for an elusive safety. My son’s picture flashed in my mind and I felt compassion for him.
“Hold your fire!” I commanded.
I stepped over the sand-bag wall that acted like a shield. I call out to him. He stopped, studied me and charged towards me, all in split of seconds.
Few inches aways from me, he pulled out a knife from the back of his abdomen, and in what seemed like a forlorn thirst for blood, he increased his pace towards me. I was taken with rude shock. I didn’t flinch. I just stared.
I heard a gunshot. He jerked backward and fell with his back, tiny splashes of crimson decorated my face. With his last breathe, I heard him say:
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