It was 2015 and I was living in Kaduna. (I have actually lived in Kaduna all my life) I was entering my final year in the university at the time. During the long holiday, I moved to Jos to stay awhile with my uncle. He had just taken up a job which would send him far away on weekdays, leaving his house empty, and he didn’t want to give the house away. That was why I was asked to come over. I wasn’t alone in the house though; there was this other guy, Lex, who was also inhabiting my uncle’s house.
That same year, I’d met this guy on Manjam. Dude was sweet, charming and you could literally sense how intelligent he was from the way he spoke. I pride myself on being a very cautious person, and there were no red flags with this guy. He was always there; we’d talk for long hours on the phone, video chat, and he’d never ask for inappropriate pictures like most guys do. He seemed to genuinely care about me, which made me like him even more. He got to know a lot about me because I opened up to him, something I rarely do. And when I was asked to come to Jos, I informed him; I mean, we were a thing, so I should tell him, right?
He never asked for us to meet until I moved to Jos. The problem however was that he was staying in Kano (about 3 hours away from Jos). Yes, it was close enough, but every time he brought up the issue of me coming to see him, I always diverted the discussion. Because of my cautious nature, I wasn’t ready to make such a trip.
But by the last week of November, when the request had become persistent and a lot more persuasive, I finally agreed. I told him my visit would have to be on a week day because I had to be at home by the weekend; my uncle would be coming back.
Dude rejoiced (oh my poor self). I was to leave on Monday, but I developed cold feet, and pushed it further back two days. Early Wednesday morning, I left for Kano, after informing Lex that I was going to see a coursemate of mine and would be back later that day. I got to Kano before midday, called him, and he said he was at the office, but that he would send his boy to come and pick me up at the park. I had spoken to this his boy before, so I was somewhat relaxed about the arrangement. (I should have taken the next car back home, but I decided to wait).
His boy soon came and picked me up. As he drove, we gisted. And this made me become more relaxed.
Soon, we got to a gate, and he parked outside and said we should walk inside. Immediately I crossed the threshold of the gate into the compound, I sensed something was wrong. I had started telling him that I needed to buy airtime to make a call, and was turning to get out, when two other guys emerged from nowhere and grabbed me, dragging me into the building in the compound, into a room at the back of the house. There were two other guys waiting there.
And in that moment, I knew my life was over.
They began slapping me. Hard. Slaps that knocked me to the ground. Then they pounced on me, kicking and punching me. They took my phones and backpack, removed my shoes and wristwatch, and took off my clothes. I was completely stripped and naked. The tallest among them brought out a very thick military belt and began whipping me with it. They upended the content of my bag and were going through my stuff, all the while, swearing at me and calling me names.
They continued physically assaulting me. I was injured on my forehead, my arms, my thighs, my neck. The force with which one of them used to whip me dislocated my left wrist because I had used the hand to protect my face. I was in pain. And still they wouldn’t stop.
However, they soon got tired of beating me. and then they settled down, and one of them produced a knife and placed it in my front. They threatened to castrate me. I had never been so scared in my entire life, so scared that I couldn’t even speak. They began talking in Igbo, which I understood; that tall one still wanted to keep going at me, but the others told him to cool off, which he reluctantly did. They left me in the room to stew in my blood and pain, while they smoked weed outside.
After a while, they came back in and began talking to me. Saying stuff like, “Why are you gay when there are many girls out there…” “Fine boy like you, you wan spoil yourself with gay. It’s not good…”
Then they were, like, that it was because I am fine, that was why they stopped beating me. They didn’t want to spoil my fine face. Then they began “advising me”, telling me to stop being gay, bla, bla, bla. They even told me of how they got a white man to come all the way from Abuja, and they beat him until he passed out. How they got a young chap to come all the way from Abia State. They were bragging and their stories were just horrible.
They revealed to me that they’d had me on their radar for months now. That they targeted me. They used two different accounts to try to engage me, but I blocked the first one because they didn’t play their game well and I’d apparently sensed they weren’t legit. So, they upped their game and now, finally, they had nabbed me.
In addition to my pain, at this point, I began to feel so very stupid.
They brought out my wallet and asked me for my ATM card pins. I refused and received more lashing for my defiance. It bears mentioning that throughout this ordeal, I never once saw the guy I’d been chatting with. He wasn’t there at all.
I prayed for death. I wanted to just die. It was now evening, around 5 or 6 PM. They really wanted my ATM pin. I had money in all my accounts. School fees, accommodation money, and my personal cash. They said I would either give them the pin or they would kill me with the knife. To drive home their point, one of them actually put the knife to my throat. Now properly scared, I gave them the pin. And they wiped me out completely.
When those who went to the ATM returned, I could see that they were happy. Why wouldn’t they be? It was at this point that they realised I had not eaten since morning. They were feeling generous now. They got me noodles and a bottle of coke, which was dosed with codeine. I refused to eat, and they made a joke about it, one of them taking a spoonful from the food to show me it wasn’t poisoned. Still I couldn’t bring myself to eat. They had to literally forced the food down my throat. They told me to try and get some sleep because I wouldn’t be leaving till the next day. They gave me back my clothes and shoes. Told me to lie down on the bed, in the middle, while they all laid down around me. The mosquito population in that room was the least of my worries that night, as I was afraid that they would try to kill me in my sleep. I just laid there, barely sleeping, quietly praying for morning to come.
I must have eventually slept off, because all of a sudden, somebody was shaking me awake into the morning. I derived a bit of happiness from the fact that I was going home. But they didn’t let me go immediately. They took me out of the compound and into a jungle – an actual jungle.
As I was led through this jungle, I was saying to myself: This is it. I thought about my mom back in Kaduna, my uncle, my siblings. My entire life was flashing before my eyes.
However, it turned out the jungle was their meeting point with a drug dealer. They bought some weed and began to smoke. They offered me a stick, but I declined, saying I’d never done drugs.
I just wanted to go home.
Around 3 PM, on Thursday, they took me to the side of the road and gave me 3 thousand naira. That I should find my way back to Jos. They gave me my bag, but they took everything else – my phones, power bank, belt, wristwatch and wallet. They said they’d be watching me, that they had a network around most states.
Eventually, I got home. Lex had been so worried, because my phone had been off for more than a day. I couldn’t tell him what happened; I just told him I got mugged on my way back. That I’d been beaten (evidently) and was in so much pain, I couldn’t come home the previous day. That I’d had to stay over at my friend’s place. He wanted to tell my uncle but I stopped him.
This is the first time I am telling this story, saying out loud the events of that traumatic couple of days. It’s been over three years, and I still have nightmares. This ordeal made me withdraw into myself. I stopped going anywhere or meeting anyone for a long while. And I haven’t had a real date since that horrific day. I get tired of the way it is still haunting me and I just want to be free of this nightmare.
Written by Ramsey