Miss Vivian Chidinma Anumba is one of the lucky corps members who survived the recent Bauchi mayhem, where many young people serving their fatherland were butchered.
The female corps member, who hails from Uzoako community, in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, read Banking and Finance at Federal Polytechnic, Oko and was serving at Shira Local Government Area, Bauchi State, from where she ran home, like a refugee.
Narrating her ugly experience to Saturday Sun, Chidinma said she slept in the bush for three days, running for her life, as all she had, including her credentials were burnt by hoodlums in Bauchi.
Her experience in Bauchi and alleged treatment by her state government on return are pitiable.
How did the violence start in Bauchi?
Actually, the major problem started after the presidential election on April 16, 2011. From the polling units, they started pursuing us, threatening to kill us if President Goodluck Jonathan won. They nicknamed corps members, PDP or Goodluck. They insisted that if Goodluck won, they would kill us.
On April 17, being Sunday, we received threats also that corps members, especially Christians, would be killed. When the presidential results were being released and Jonathan was winning in 21 states, they started threatening us again. Later, they started burning houses and killing corps members. When trouble got to our arena, in Shira Local Government Area, we started running. They killed some of our colleagues. They cut them into pieces.
How did you escape?
It was survival of the fittest. They started going from house to house, room to room in search of corps members. Even if you were to run into an Hausa man’s house, they would kill you. When we ran into a police station, they came into the police station to kill us. In fact, police station was not safe because they killed some policemen and burnt the place down.
So, we continued running, for three days, until Tuesday, April 19. That was when we were rescued. They had to call SSS people to convey the surviving ones to SSS quarters in Bauchi town; that was where they gathered all surviving corps members and from there, they were taken home by their different state governments.
For us from Anambra State, we found ourselves home here with the help of Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim. Some entered ANIDS bus to convey them from Bauchi to Awka and on the way, some were involved in accidents; some of them are still in the hospital, as we are talking now.
Did you see them kill people?
I know some people that were killed. There was this young man; he was my neighbour and he was to get married by June. He was a batch three corps member. Unfortunately, they killed him. There was another person, who was like our pastor there. They killed him too. There, they isolated Christians; anywhere Christians are is a forgotten land. They see it as a land that is corrupt. So, they burnt all the churches there. The man we saw as pastor came home after the service that day. We prayed in the house. He helped people to safety. In the process of trying to show people the way to escape, they killed him. They were three roommates. They killed two, with the exception of one who came back with us.
Many others were injured; some of them couldn’t even stand; they were still on wheelchairs before we came down to this place. I got pictures of those killed with my phone. The bodies were taken to the mortuary. Most of them are still in mortuaries in Bauchi State. Their people were coming down there to settle with NYSC officials before they will carry the corpses.
Are you saying there was no security at the polling units?
The security they gave us in the polling units did not do anything because all of them are Muslims. They beat me up in my polling unit because there in Bauchi State, they didn’t do election; they would just command you to share the ballot papers among the parties. Even after obeying them, they won’t be satisfied. After the election, they threw us into a truck and commanded us to start counting for CPC. In fact, if not for God’s intervention, we could have been raped.
You said that you slept in the bush while escaping. What happened?
We slept in the bush behind a rock in order to be safe, because they started going from house to house in search of corps members to kill. If you are an Hausa man and they suspect that corps members are in your house, they would search and anyone they saw was dragged out and dealt with.
They burnt all my property; they burnt my documents, but I really thank God that at the end of the day, I was able to escape. As I said earlier, even the police station we ran to for rescue, was burnt. People that were inside, who were not at alert, became victims. But we had to run into the bush, slept there for three days, before we came out. It was then that we heard that they were coming to evacuate us.
How were you evacuated?
I had to fix myself into the Imo State flight. Ohakim had to send a flight to us and we landed in Owerri. He hosted us. He lodged us in different hotels and at the end of the day, he gave each of us N5, 000 for transportation from Owerri to Awka. He took us to the Government House, entertained us and after entertaining us, he lodged us, gave us transport fare. We from Anambra State, we are about 100 plus that followed the flight. We came back to our own Government’s House that day; we don’t even know how the Governor’s Lodge is because they sent us back from the gate. They asked our driver to turn back and packed somewhere. They stopped us at the gate and addressed us. They gave them N1, 000 each after that. He then asked us to come back on Wednesday. Now, on getting to that place, we were ignored. We sat there from morning till afternoon and the thing we heard was that the governor had travelled. One person came and addressed us and said that we should write our names and that if they had any information for us, they would call us.
We learnt that you met with Dr. Chris Ngige. How come?
We were there when we heard that Onwa (Ngige) was around and we decided to come here.
How did your parents react when you returned?
Oh my God! My mum was happy, though until I got home I did not tell her what was happening to me. It was only my brother that I was telling everything, because I knew my mum would have a health crisis if I told her I was in such trouble, even if I was still alive. She would die before I came back.
What are you going to do next?
I am preparing to go for a thanksgiving in church. I didn’t know that I would still be alive till today because, at a point, I had to say my last prayer that if they met me I was dead. They were everywhere, ready to kill. It was God that brought me home without any scratch.