Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Armed Robbers!

My mom just called.

She said armed robbers came to the house tonight. She wanted to let me know that she was ok. My dad is in Abuja for a meeting until tomorrow. She was home alone. It was around 7:30pm. The guard was coming out of the house to feed the dogs, and as he went out the door, the two men pushed him back into the house and kicked him. My mom screamed louder than she said she thought she could scream. The generator was running, so there was noise to cover her scream.

They had a gun. They told my mom to take them to the money. As they were going up the stairs, NEPA came on, and the light in the hallway came on to indicate it.

"Who turned the light on?" the man with the gun asked.

"It's just NEPA," Mom said.

They went up the stairs. They did not want naira. She gave the dollars that were in the house.

"Are you a Christian?" he asked.

"Yes," she says. "Are you?"

"Yes." he says. "You know God doesn't like lying."

"God doesn't like stealing," she said. (I LOVE my mom!"

"Well, you are more priviliged than I am." he said.

I don't know what she said to him, then. But on the phone, she said, well that is true.

(The amazing thing about it is that she called me on Skype to tell me!)

He then asked her about the laptop. And she was like "Oh, please, don't take my computer. I have so many important documents on it." (Yeah right! again, I LOVE my mom!)

He closed it and was about to unhook it, when the university guards came running up outside the house. The robbers heard the whistles, so he just grabbed her cell phone that was on the table, and ran with it.

They fired a couple of shots to disperse the guards and ran away.

It sounds like they were probably students. There were just two; they had guns. She said their English was very good.

Remembering a little incident (robbers never came into the compound--just rattled on the gates for a while) in Kano this summer, I remember how shaken I was. I wish I were there to sleep there with my mom tonight, but the neighbor will stay with her. My dad will come back tomorrow, but no use in risking road armed robbers to drive back at night.

A neighbor is going to sleep in the house with her tonight. Other neighbors came and loaned her their cell phones so she could call dad. The police came. She said that, still shaken, the police with their guns were also a little frightening to her too. But there was an older man among them, who was very calm and nice, who made her feel better. She has to go into the police station to file a report tomorrow.

We're all upset. I called T., because Mom hadn't been able to get through to her. Mom was going to try to reach L. She'd already called my brother, D. My brother just called me and told me how he and our cousin are brainstorming about how to make the house more secure. He's talking Tazer guns, barring up the porch, etc. But the overwhelming emotion I have, and which my mom told me she has too, is gratitude and thankfulness and relief.

Because, really, we've been so blessed. All 18 years my family has been in Nigeria, we have not ONCE had an encounter with armed robbers (save for the little thing I experienced in Kano, and like I said, the armed robbers never got into the house, just shook the compound gates for a while). And if that is not the hand of God, then, I don't know what is. We all knew it would eventually happen. And if it had to happen, this was an "ideal armed robbery" if there is such a case. They did not touch my mom. Samila, the guard, is bruised but not hurt too badly. They didn't shoot anybody.

My worst fear, the fear that haunts me, has always been armed robbers. I don't care so much about the things they take (although, the computer would be a terrible loss), but I've heard so many stories of women being raped, people being shot and tortured. I thank God from whom all blessings flow that Mom is ok. She even said she was kind of glad that Dad wasn't around, because she is afraid that someone might have gotten hurt if he had been around.

No one likes to have money taken, but there wasn't even that much money in the house. They didn't even take the computer. That's really a miracle.

Oh Lord God, thank you for your protection. Thank you for your blessings. Thank you for keeping my mother safe. When she called and said she had something to tell me, but Dad said she should tell us to let us know she was ok, I immediately thought she had found out she had some disease. When she told me it was armed robbers, I was upset. But like he predicted, I was glad to hear it from her. To hear her voice, and to hear her sounding calm and put together.

My mother is so brave. She is emotional like me, and we often get offend eachother, and get into fights if we've been around each other for too long, but she is so calm under pressure. She was that way when she helped nurse my grandfather as he was dying a few years ago. Maybe it's a calm that comes with these situations, that takes us through. I know she'll probably be more shaken tomorrow than she was tonight.

I remember this summer when the thugs/armed robbers rattled on the gates for three hours from 2 to 5am, I was terrified. I huddled together with the other two people in the house under a blanket on the living room floor. But at the same time, I felt a peace. In fact, we even laughed a little bit--that desperate sort of laughter--at how we were all huddled on the floor under a blanket, like children. Like that would protect us. Racing heart, trembling hands, desperate giggles. Through it all, I knew that I would be ok--deep down--that i would be ok, whatever happened.

Thank you, Lord, for peace. Thank you for protection.

I love my mom so much.


Teju said...

So relieved on your behalf.

And saddened, again, at Naija.

Anonymous said...


Very sorry to hear this dastardly news. I'm very glad to know your mom's in good shape aftewards, thank Heavens.

I could go on a rant against these human parasites, but out of respect for your mom, I'll refrain although I'm seething.

stefan said...

best wishes to your your mom

Talatu-Carmen said...

teju, fred, and stefan,

thanks. my mom's email telling more details about the robbery was painful. For the police report she had to file, she primly quoted how they kept saying "not to fuck with them." She described the guns they carried. It's hard to think of your mother being threatened in that way--to have your mother being sworn at when she is so prim and proper and so upset at her children if they say "sucks" or "crappy." To have someone pointing a gun at your mother.

i desperately love Nigeria, and look forward to being back next summer. But I'm sad because i know that i will be afraid, despite not wanting to be. that i will no longer sit out on the steps of our university house when NEPA goes out gazing up at the backbone of the sky. That i won't feel safe going down the street to visit the neighbors. i hate it that we are talking about getting sturdier doors, barring up the porch, building barricades.

but, yes, i am relieved too. because she is safe, and they didn't touch her. my dad is back and safe. and we have so many things to be grateful for.

stefan said...

hm i don´t know someone could tell that´s the fate and when ever you ´re it is waiting for every one i realy don´t know ´m not clever enough to judge it .....

Jeremy said...

I'm sorry to hear about this. There is so much armed robbery all over the country right now, we all have to be very careful.

Anonymous said...

God please help this country (makes me recount the same event that happened when I was like 12 yrs or somn, they actually pointed a cold gun at my brain! I was shocked! Again, my mum also said she was glad my dad wasn't around because that would have been extra wahala, seeing as my dad would have tried to fight the people back and protect his family. My dad had taken my aunt back to the airport where she was flying back to Italy (she was the one they were tracing)...

When God is with you, you will always overcome! I'm glad no one was hurt!

Christian Writer said...

Thank God your Mum was okay. I moved to the UK just before my 14th bday and in all that time, we were never robbed. My father passed away aged 64 in 1997 and he was only robbed once before he died.

My Mum's shop was robbed once but it was an inside job. Turns out the stupid cow she took under her maternal wings, paid her school fees, took her mum on hajj and lots of other stuff she did for her actually paid someone to do teh robbery. We also found out that she'd been (trying) to do witchcraft on my mum. Sounds fantastic and other worldly but true. Like I said, stupid cow...

Apart from those incidents, we haven't had any armed robberies. You can live in Nigeria all your life and never be robbed. Yet, some people that are robbed as frequently as Obasanjo sets up 'stakeholder committees'.

I'm ever so glad that your mum is okay. Honestly. She could've been my mum or anybody's mum.

God bless you and your family.