Author Archives: Sifon K Emah

The Evil That Men Do

The Daily Beast Source:

The Daily Beast


“Tobi” Kareem whispered close to my ear. His foul breath was like a physical slap bringing me back to full consciousness. I tried to turn away, but then a voice in my head whispered mockingly “see the pot calling kettle black”. So I reluctantly grunted  back instead.


I was pretty sure my sure my breath could wake a dead man. The thought made me smile. Strange how the mind works – to find humour in this dark place.

I could hear Kareem’s laboured breathing beside me as he struggled to somehow adjust his protracted prone position .

“e be like say Wunmi don craze o.”

How did I end up here?

The question had been reverberating in my head since the moment I’d regained consciousness and found myself lying helpless in this cold, damp cell, surrounded by the stench of fresh and decaying faeces, mixed in with the whimpering moans of my fellow captives, and the constant shuffling of feet by our captors above.

I can still remember closing from work sometime around 10:00 pm, and boarding a bus heading to  Sango-Ota at the Oshodi Bus Stop. Traffic was light and I’d projected I would be home before 11:00 pm. I remember staring at the towering neon street lights glowing along the length of the bridge all the way to Bolade, and thinking to myself “Fashola has really transformed this place”. The only other thing I remember is feeling drowsy.

One moment I was in a bus hurrying home to my family and the next moment I’m lying here trapped in the den of ritual murderers. Living with the realisation that I will never see my family again.

The year is 2014. The last time I checked, it was June. I have no idea what day it is. Time is no longer measured in minutes and hours. It is measured only in heartbeats – here one moment and gone the next.

At first there were fourteen of us in the cell. We must have been charmed, because even though we were unbound and sometimes unguarded, we couldn’t move. We just lay there in the dirt waiting for them to return from wherever they went.

Our captors were six in number, at least those were the ones I’d seen – five men and a woman. Sometimes two of the men would enter our cell dressed somewhat like mad men. Laughing, they preyed on the women lying there helpless while we watched. It must have been another occult ritual, because once they were through, the woman slowly lost her mind. Or maybe it was the trauma of the absolute helplessness that drove the women insane – as was now happening with Wunmi.

The other three men – even now that it’s over, I still have nightmares of them, their hideous twisted grinning faces smeared with blood. They were the butchers.

I sighed.

Why did  Kareem have to tell me of Wunmi’s breakdown? This was not out of pity. In a way, I felt it was an easier way out of this hell into which we had been drawn. At this moment, to me, she was the lucky one.

From time to time the butchers would enter the cellar accompanied by a smallish man with crossed eyes, dressed with large beads around his neck and ankles, a long white cloth around his waist. They called him Eru-iku.

Eru-iku would mutter some incantations as he looked around, then suddenly point at one of us. Swiftly, the butchers would descend upon him or her, dragging the helpless body out of the cell. And then came the screams punctuated by the dull thumping sound of iron against concrete. In the case of a woman, the screams went on longer. I can still hear them.

This was our life. The blood curling screams became the songs of birds at sunrise; the ever-present scent of faeces and decaying flesh, our garden of roses; the faces of our captors and the knowledge that when we were dragged out of our cell, we would not be coming back, this was our reality.

We were fed little, left over scraps of chicken tossed on the dirt floor beside our waste. The butchers would make us eat those bones, flogging us with canes until we swallowed the scraps to escape the pain. And then they would laugh at our broken bodies, lying trembling in the dirt.

And then freedom came. There we were, lying in our own mixture of blood and faeces. Myself, Kareem and Wunmi – barely human, the last three.

“Did you hear that?” Kareem whispered suddenly

“What?” I groaned wearily.


It suddenly hit me that Wunmi had stopped laughing, and there was a strange stillness in the air above us. And then I heard it. The crack of a gunshot echoed in the distance, and then there was another, and another and then I heard shouting.

“They are coming” Wunmi cooed in a sing-song voice.

I could hear the thumping sound of feet moving above us. Then Kareem started laughing.

“Help!” I tried to call out, but my voice was hoarse and weak.

“Help!” Kareem joined in. “We are here o!” Together we cried and cried with all our strength, even Wunmi joined in. Until finally the door opened.

They say it was the townspeople who rescued us, after one of their okada riders got abducted by the two mad men. A phone call from his cellphone led them to the place. Wunmi died on our way to the hospital. According to the police, the butchers were burnt alive, screaming until they died. Only the woman, the one they called “Aunty”, escaped.

We were in the cell for over three months before our freedom came. And now that it has, I feel nothing.

I lived with death for three months. The land of the living feels strange.

Categories: Lil Pieces of Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

In The Face Of Terror (III)

Sahara by Night Photograph by Thomas Young

Sahara by Night
Photograph by Thomas Young

The splash of cold water stung my face. My eyelids fluttered open in shock, and I gasped for air. I don’t know how long I was out, but I was lying on the floor and my left hand had been bandaged. The masked man was back. He stared down at me, arms folded behind him.

“My friend, are you ready to continue our discussion?”

“Sir, please, I’ve told you the truth.”


“And maybe I believe you”

He tossed a bundle of clothes on the floor, and left the room. The men barked orders at me as they stripped me of my own clothing. I smelled like a goat. One of them disappeared into a corner of the room and returned holding a bucket of water. The cold water stung me like a thousand needles. I washed what I could but I knew I would not be clean. Hastily, I put on my new clothes. A bag was dropped over my head. I heard the door open, and I was led out once again. Continue reading

Categories: In Series, Lil Pieces of Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

In The Face of Terror (II)

“Please don’t kill me”

“Please don’t kill me”

I kept mumbling this to myself like it were a prayer.

I no longer had any idea how long we had been driving when we suddenly stopped. One of the men grabbed my arms, shouting impatiently and none too gently dragged me out of the vehicle. I could feel the trail of hot piss flowing over my thighs as they began dragging me along the ground, again. I heard a door swing open just ahead and the floor no longer felt so rough and the voices of my captors seemed to echo as we moved along, as though we were in a corridor.

We stopped moving. I tried to raise my head, to listen, but I was suddenly slammed against a wall.

“Down!” the voice of my captor was a harsh bark. Continue reading

Categories: In Series, Lil Pieces of Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

In The Face of Terror (I)



This is not a story. So, if you’re one of those people hoping to pass the time by reading this, I apologize. Because this is right here. This is a moment in time.

It began with my last trip to the capital. The news of the day was that of a mass kidnapping by insurgents in a remote part of the country. Protests by citizens abounded, activists and critics alike called for the resignation of those in power, while the government had fingers being pointed left and right in search of the perfect scapegoat.

As an investigative journalist, it is my sworn duty to provide the public with both sides of any story. On that note, rather than follow the path tread by the greater number of my esteemed colleagues – dabbling into sensationalism with catchy front page titles, I decided to find a path that would lead me into the very mind of the dreaded insurgents.

Continue reading

Categories: In Series, Lil Pieces of Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Any Given Monday


I think it would be safe to say that the last few years of our nation’s history have given magnanimous credibility to the late Fela Anikulapokuti’s definition of democracy as the demonstration of craze. But if we could all take a moment to be honest, would anyone expect less from a government of the people, for the people and by the people? Especially if the people in question are……

Wait for it!

…… “the Nigerian people”.

I sincerely don’t think so.

However if you wish to doubt, which I by all means encourage, please join me on any Monday morning for a jolly good adventure along the highways in our beloved country.

Observe with me, the grim determination on the faces of the drivers stuck in traffic, savagely pounding their horns; and should the need arise, shouting harsh words at each other. Notice the impatient gesturing of the commuters, the shuffling feet of the pedestrians, the shoving and hissing, the muttering of profanities when easy passage seems denied.

Let us feel the longing in the hopeful glances of the hawkers displaying their goods, ready to give chase at any sign that a commuter might be a potential customer. And last, but by no means least, let us not forget the predatory glances of our dear law enforcement agents. All of them have one thing in common – they strive to get ahead by any means necessary.

Now, equate this scene to our politics, and then tell me what you see? Is our government not worthy of us? Recreating our little Monday morning drama on a much larger scale, yet remaining true to the same creed: “get ahead by any means necessary”.

This is how it looks from my perspective: Our Democracy is a mirror reflecting back who we are, and what we are. So the next time any one of us feels the urge to heap insults on our dear President J (I know I will), or our esteemed well-rounded first lady, please take a step back and ask yourself just how many fingers are pointing back at you?

And when you arrive at your answer, remember the words of a wise but misunderstood woman – “There is God oO!”

Categories: Idle hands | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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