Mark Emmanuel

Nigerian recounts 18-hour near-death encounter with kidnappers

by Church Times

A Nigerian, Mark Emmanuel has narrated how he was kidnapped by suspected Fulani men and an Urhobo man on his way to Warri.

Emmanuel who shared his experience on his Twitter handle @AmechiMark also recounted how he was almost killed by the kidnappers and how God miraculously intervened and delivered him from their hands

He said the incident happened in February while he was travelling to Warri to pick some household stuff having just relocated to Lagos.

He left home around 5.30 am and by 1.15 pm he was already negotiating the Benin bypass when the unthinkable happened.

“I have barely made the round turn coming from Benin Ore expressway to settle on my speed ahead when I heard what seemed like a car tyre burst. It sounded quiet but repeatedly so I looked at my rear mirror and in front to be sure. I also observed the other cars in front of me hitting the breaks in very swift succession.

“So, I knew we all heard the sound. I had to also apply my break thinking something is happening up ahead. But no, it’s already happening in my very before. As I looked to my left, I just saw 4 gunmen coming out of the bushes, heavily armed with sharp machetes and AK47s. Several rounds were shot in the air. There were two of them already in our front and back with 4 cars: mine, a Mercedes in my front, and two trucks, trapped in the middle.

“As the gunmen came close, the Mercedes car just picked up acceleration and made a swerve into the bush on the right. Immediately I heard a voice that ordered one to follow the car as if they knew he had nowhere to run to. As one of them was coming close to me I could see the one that seemed to be the leader speaking with the drivers of the two trucks in the Hausa language. He then told his men to let them go. By now I was out of my car with both my hands raised up and one entered into my car and was just searching everywhere.”

Not long, he was pulled from his car and taken to the forest after he had been dispossessed of his money. He recalled, “Turning towards the forest where he’s directing me to enter, I just said to myself, “that’s Fulani accent!”. It was at this point it became dawn on me that I have been Kidnapped by Fulani bandits.”

Having done his NYSC in the north, Emmanuel said he could tell the difference in their stature, speech, and mannerisms. One of them who held to his phone announced to him that he had just been kidnapped and that only money could save him.

Only your money can save you

Mark (middle) and family members

“So, he asked again how much do I have. I said N70k. He came close to me and the next thing I heard was a heavy punch on my face. Really whether it was a punch or a slap I couldn’t tell because the impact was like dry hardwood on my face. He started shouting at me. “Do you think we’re ordinary Kidnappers? ” “N50million, 10k no go comot, or else, one bullet to your head”.

By this time, Emmanuel was in a dire situation. One was pointing a gun at him while he was being asked to face the ground.

“Later I began to hear more footsteps, coming closer and closer. About 3 of them stepped on me as they walked past, another just hit my face, shouting at me to keep my head down. From the voices they were seven guys, just wearing simple clothes and very hard boots. All on face caps and Covid-19 kind of face mask. From their accent, 5 were Fulanis, 1, being the leader is Hausa, and 1 to my greatest unbelief is Urhobo.” He recalled.

After several interrogations, the Urhobo man among them was the one who came to negotiate with him assuring that he could help him beat the price from N50milllion to N30million.

Unfortunately for the kidnappers, they could not make any call as there was no network in the bush. They tried three different places in the bush, no network. The verdict was that he would be wasted in the bush since there was no way to reach those who will bring ransom.

In the midst of the confusion, Emmanuel who is currently recuperating from injuries he sustained during what he termed my “18-hour encounter with kidnappers” said he recalled a Facebook video of Archbishop Benson Idahosa.

In the video Idahosa said all through his years in ministry, he had never seen God deny help to those who said “God help me!” “Then he said quietly “God help me!” he said it a few times and stopped.”

Shortly after, around 6pm the leader of the group came and said to him: “this one, we will kill him.”

Emmanuel recounted further, “He seemed disappointed somehow. I could tell by the heavy punch he laced on my face as he was passing. 5 of them went ahead and 2 behind with me in between.

“I was ordered to carry their bags, containing ammunition, water bottles, kegs, clothes, oil, etc. I followed them looking down. We walked for about 30 minutes. I started to hear cars from far away and I was a bit calm; at least we’re approaching the road, that for me was a kind of relief.”

But they changed their plan again. Two of the kidnappers were asked to lead him back to the forest while five proceeded to the express road perhaps to look for more victims.

The fight for life

He continues, “I saw that very angry Fulani guy looking at me with gun and machete. I saw that the other guy wants to say the Muslim prayer. I looked around and was waiting for an opportunity. Opportunity for what, I don’t know I have to just do something. So, the guy turned his head away from me, I leaped from my position into the Bush and started running. He shouted and chased after me. Unfortunately, I was caught up by the bush I couldn’t run at all. As I turned my head around, see this guy dey follow me with a full drawn machete. Having nowhere to go, what just popped into my head was “FIGHT”.”

He engaged in the guy in a brawl. As they were fighting the other guy who was saying his prayers could not come to help to support him because he did not want to leave his prayer position. There was a bit of scuffle between him and the man with the machete.

“He hit my head and I felt blood gushing out, but I was still busy blocking. Again, another hit my palm bone and the next to my tibia bone. Oh boy! My leg was broken, I felt my head aching and blood running down, but he was still swinging the thing.

“As I looked up, I saw his arm returning towards me for another slice, I just managed to get up and embraced him tight that he could not return the machete. He struggled to free himself, but I held him and was repeating these three words in Hausa: God is great, All praise be to God, Please don’t be angry.

“I said it over and over and over again until he freed himself from me and I just fell back down. He said so I was fighting with him, I said no that I was afraid I didn’t want to die that was why I ran. He said for fighting with him, I have killed myself. At this moment I was too weak, badly injured and bleeding out to do anything. I could only say “please don’t kill me” when I find the strength to do so. He ordered me to lie down flat which I did and he walked away from me looking for his gun or something. And I just laid there breathing.”

 

Final prayer waiting for death

 

At this point, Emmanuel knew he had come to his wit’s end. He said to the Lord in prayers, “Lord, thank you for bringing me this far in life. I’ve never reached this point where you know you’re going to die. Having attempted an escape, fought with one of these guys, I guess I have done everything humanly possible. Right now, my leg, hand, and head are badly injured, I can’t run.

“I know what these guys will do when they return. They will kill me. I don’t really know how a person dies, or how the soul leaves the body, I don’t know what is going to happen to my spirit. But please Lord, I don’t want to miss heaven. I’m a sinner, forgive me all my sins, I acknowledge you again as my saviour, and I commit my spirit into your hands.

“But, if you would ask me, I don’t want to die; I want to live, see my wife and children again. As I’m praying to you now, my wife is doing the same, other people are praying on my behalf. If you won’t hear me, at least hear them. Please Lord, if you will, you can make me live. With you all things are possible. What you cannot do does not exist. Thank you, Lord for everything, Amen.”

And God intervened

Mark in the ambulance at the lagos University Teaching hospital

At this point, Emmanuel was exhausted, bleeding everywhere, and was incapacitated from the wounds during the scuffle. The leader came around and found him in a helpless state. He was not happy. “The leader and some of the guys holding torches pointed it towards me helplessly lying down bleeding profusely. Somehow the leader wasn’t happy seeing me in that state. He asked what happened, I said I was afraid, I did not want to die so I tried to escape.

“He said but I’ve killed myself now. He was very disturbed. He examined me again. The guy I fought with just came out from nowhere and said since I fought with him, he’ll make sure I don’t come out from the Bush. I started begging that they shouldn’t kill me, that they shouldn’t be angry that fought him, that it was out of fear. I said I had some money in my account that they can take.

“The leader said, “we don’t want anything from you again, you have spoilt everything, you just have to go!” He then asked me about the gun that guy was holding, I saw some of them checking the bushes. I said I didn’t see any gun, that the guy only came to meet me with a machete.

“The leader then asked if I can walk, I said yes. He asked me to walk, I stood up and fell down back. He said if I can’t walk, they’ll just waste me there in the forest. I assured him again that I can walk. He walked a few distance away and picked up a long stick, cut it to size and gave to me to try and walk with it. I took it and got up but fell back again to the ground. He then said if I can’t get up, that’s the end for me. I said I will get up. I held the stick again and tried once more to get. I got up and fell down again. There and then I knew that it’s over. The next thing I heard was“we’ll leave you here o”

I quickly said “better! Don’t worry about me, I’ll find my way.” he said I’m I sure, I said if they promise not to kill me then I will find my way out. He agreed and said, “Toh we’re leaving” And they left.”

He stayed there for a while breathing heavily. He had removed his shirt to tie his bleeding leg. His trousers had been removed to in the heat of the clashes. He managed to walk through the forest and was approaching the express road only to encounter the scoundrel he fought with earlier

“I just lifted up my head and behold, the guy I fought with was already standing before me, with the guy pointing towards me. He just laughed that kind of laugh that says “I got you now!” and cocked the gun to fire. The hope I had managed to gather within my few minutes of crawling vanished immediately. I was just stifled in my position waiting for the sound of the gun, imagining the bullet entering wherever in my body.

“In a twinkle of an eye, I saw the leader swiftly standing and blocking me from the gun. He held it to the side and was talking to the guy in his ear. They shouted that they should leave him to just waste me. I then said, “but una say una no go kill me na!” The leader then shouted with authority “Nobody go shoot you here, come outside, I say nobody go shoot you here!”

He then spoke to the guy authoritatively and the guy just walked away angrily. The leader then asked me to come out. I crawled out. He then asked if I knew my way, I said I would find it. So, he gave directions to follow, warned me against the side I must not go to, that they’ll kill me if they see me there. I thanked him and they walked away, never to be seen again.”

Naked in the cold night

Time was around 9 pm he had managed to get to the express road. He had removed his trousers and the shirt to bind the bleeding parts of his body. He removed his shorts and was using them to wave vehicles passing the express road so they could come to his help

“I tried waving as trucks and few cars pass by but no one was stopping for me (well, even I wouldn’t stop for anyone also). I later noticed that I was on the side of the road going towards Lagos. I managed to cross the road to the side going to Warri. On getting there, I started waving my boxers with my hands continuously hoping that at least one of the vehicles would stop for me.

“I did the waving till my hands grew very weak that I couldn’t raise it any more than my elbow on the ground. I also needed to position my broken leg to reduce the pain. I remembered the leader of the Kidnappers telling to get to the road and sleep till the next day. So, I stopped waving and tried to sleep by the side of the road.

Mark Emmanuel Saved at last

 

He writes “I tried to sleep but I was waking up intermittently as heavy trucks hunk pass, blowing heavy cold breeze over my naked body. Once and again I still try to wave for help as the vehicles drive past, I did not get up, I couldn’t even see the vehicles coming because I was lying down opposite to the direction of the oncoming vehicles, I just wave when the cars get closer.

“At one time, I woke up hearing the sound of a heavy truck. But somehow I noticed that the headlights of the vehicle was much brighter than normal, I just managed to raise my head to look and to my greatest shock, there were two heavy trucks driving side by side, one was trying to overtake the other and was already about to drive through me on the road. How strength came upon me to swiftly roll away from being crushed, I don’t know. My broken ached more but I did not pay any attention to it. I was just imagining how I have survived everything only to have been run over by a heavy-duty truck.

“The next time I woke up it was early morning, about 6 am. I could still see cars with their headlights on. I waited till the lights were turned off; that way I knew the day had become brighter. I quickly resumed waving my shorts again but no vehicle stopped even when they could see me clearly now. I mean, who wants to really pull over for a stack naked fellow lying down on the Highway, covered in blood. Except you’re military personnel. Yes, that’s it, I put my weak hand down and just said a simple prayer.

“Lord, these cars won’t stop for me in this state, except for a military escort; please Lord, send me a military escort. 2 minutes after my prayer, there came a military vehicle. As I flanked them, they drove a little further away and stopped. 5 heavily armed soldiers came out of the vehicle, still somehow suspicious of me… Who wouldn’t be?

“Who are you!” The leader shouted. I said my name loudly and told him that he could search my profile on Facebook. They drew a bit closer and he asked me why I was lying naked on the floor. I managed to explain to him. He asked if I am married and if I know my wife’s phone number. I called it out to him. He then called my wife, the phone was on speaker. He politely introduced himself and asked my wife some questions to confirm my identity.

“Satisfied with my wife’s response he immediately ordered one to put my shorts back on and to divert oncoming vehicles from getting close to me. He told me that they have been ordered to come to the barracks but that he’ll get a car or ambulance for me to go to the hospital. Shortly after, a Volvo ambulance was passing by. He stopped the vehicle and ordered that I be carried in and taken to the hospital. The driver obeyed and drove me straight from Benin bypass to LASUTH. The officer kept on calling from time to time to ensure all is well.

I was immediately admitted in the surgical emergency unit and well attended to. The doctors said I suffered a broken tibia, a left metacarpal bone. My cuts were stitched and some scans were done.

To the praise and glory of the Most High God, it wasn’t more than that. The soldiers called 2 days later to inform me that my car has been found in a police station. A week later I was discharged.

I typed this post with one hand because my left hand and leg are covered in a plaster cast (POP). I’m healing fast but doctors say my leg will be like this for at least 3 months.

To God alone be all glory, and honour, and power, and all praise, Amen.”

 

 

 

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