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On Armed Forces Day

To the Colonel who saved us
And the troop commander-He died before we could go in

Today, I write this with so much gratitude instead of pain. I stayed with this pain when it was too tough to talk or write about it. But I write now about it in their honour. I had just finished my 12pm Live hit, when 4 military personnel jumped off their truck and walked straight to my cameraman and I. I was literally just removing my mic while he powered off the LiveU when they approached us. I quickly sent a message to our then MD Ijeoma Nwogwugwu.
Something that read, “Some military men are here. Looks like I am in trouble”. She will immediately respond. “Stay calm and keep me posted.” Then, one of them hands me the phone- “Speak to our boss”. I did. On the other end was the Col. And he said only one line, “Be careful. And be safe. I will reach out directly”. That was it. I told the MD how it went.

I would later find out that I was being tracked and he has been on the lookout for me and my team because “you are doing an incredible job but very risky with little or no protection. I have followed you for quite some time now. You are a prime target. You need to stay safe,” he told me. A month after the re-union of the abducted girls that ended in chaos with two killed while we were there. I returned back to the place to hear how these parents, whose own were killed on that day were faring having not received any word from the government.
We came in quietly and after few days just keeping low profile, we planned to go into the village. Somehow, Colonel knew and warned us not to go by ourselves. He promised to provide security we could go in with. That didn’t happen
We risked it (something I look back now and my heartbeat increases whenever I think of that trip). After my report came out, I would get a call. The commander was murdered the night before we went in. That was why I didn’t hear back. It was devastating. The very first time, I understood the height of the sacrifices men and women of our Armed Forces make. I can’t write all the details. But he didn’t die alone. There were several others.
I will call him B. He offered my cameraman and I the place to sleep. He was a retired Force man. He made sure we were okay and told us several stories to keep us calm. He assured us we were safe. It was the night in Chibok I will never forget. He too is dead. And several many others. Thank you for all your sacrifices. May our nation rise up to you and reward you enough for all of the sacrifices.
Amaka Okoye

Amaka Okoye

A seasoned and an award-journalist who has practiced both in and outside of Nigeria. She has covered varied beats but her forte is Conflict and Crisis Reporting. She majors in reporting terrorism, banditry and abductions in the Northern part of Nigeria.

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