At her mother’s office the situation didn’t fit seamlessly with the daily operations of the bank. As one of the assistant manager, she was summoned to a meeting of officials as she was about to drop her car keys into her office drawer. The meeting was to assess the security situation of the town and send a report to their headquarters, the manager briefed them.
“There are numerous rumors and hearsays but nothing official, does anybody have concrete information on what is happening?” Concluded the manager who had the same look of unbelief as everybody else.
The discussion took a religious turn almost immediately when one of the senior staffs who was a Christian said, “Chief we need extra security as these Muslim terrorists are really determined to destroy this city like the others” One of the other senior staff almost slapped him accusing him of calling Muslims terrorists.
All the other Muslims staffs took turns to lecture the confused young man the difference between Muslims and terrorists.
His Christian colleagues were soon jabbing in their own views in defense. Only Adanne’s mother held her tongue and her peace.
She was the only Igbo woman too in the fold, though they were her colleagues. She had always felt like an outcast among them.
They were Hausa people, whether Christian or Muslim they were still from the north and regarded her with contempt as she did towards them.
It was more like an unwritten agreement. So it was indeed a nervous moment for her when the manager told everyone to hold their tongue or leave the room. Silence returned once more, the air-conditioner too seemed to start working again.
“Mrs. Okorie what do you think of the situation?” the manager asked staring at her as then did every member of the executive arm of the bank. She had not expected to participate, it was supposed to be a briefing session and personally she was yet to grasp the sudden change that was looming over their lives.
She was about to mumble a few words when it sounded again, louder and heavier this time spilling few drops of coffee on white sheets of paper. “That must be close by” she heard someone said as in a flash everyone was rushing back to the banking hall. The second blast was so deafening she let out an unconscious scream of “Jesus”.
At the banking hall people were gathered by the left window, they were looking in the direction of the market.
The market was about a hundred feet away from the bank. She could now see the thick black smoke rising above the flickering tongues of red flame. People were screaming and running around, even though she could not hear them from inside the bank. She could see the movement of their mouths and the agony on their faces. These told their tales in full to a distant observer.
Vehicles were stopped abruptly at every junction by soldiers and policemen whom appeared out of nowhere immediately. Security personals began to condone off the area sending on coming vehicles away, the firemen arrived promptly with their red tanks rescue the situation. It was as though they were waiting for the action to begin.
The tension was slowly wearing down when the shooting started. First it was a distant gunshot that was heard before the rain of bullets started. Meanwhile inside the bank everybody remained quiet and still as though people were afraid to talk or even walk. Everybody looked calm with worried faces and questioning eyes. “Seal the doors one of the security men” shouted at the operator.
“We need everyone to remain calm as we are all save in here. We need everyone to be orderly please and bear with us. We won’t be able to continue operations till we are certain your lives are safe as your money in the vault” The manager was still addressing the little crowd, trying to calm their anxiety and close shop for the day.
The bewildered customers who cared less about his speech only halve listened, many stood by the door eager to move out and run away from this horrible scene. He had barely finished his last sentence when a bullet hit the upper window of the banking hall shattering it. The fragments of the glass hit the tiled floor causing to customers scant for safety, pushing the manger out of their way. There was a serious rouse in the hall.
All this while Mrs. Okorie thought of nothing but her family, Ugochukwu was safe in school so was Adanne and Alex. She prayed Alex won’t stray today by leaving school on some adventure. Young boys can be tough sometimes then there was her husband.
Since his two weeks leave from work he had been spending time with his old friends and relatives. He visited them in their shops in the market, listening to different gossips and local political news.
“It is very necessary to know what is going on in town especially at times like this, so that we won’t be caught up in the cross fire” he had told her, explaining where he went every morning when she left for work.
She had mildly accused him of infidelity even though it was a mere joke he had taken it seriously and told her what she actually didn’t need to know.
Arch. Louis Maduabuchi Okorie, Adanne’s father worked with a construction company where he had rendered fifteen years of active services. He had already started secretly planning to quit his job and return to the eastern part of the country. The management had refused to grant him a due transfer to the nation’s capital on the basis of lack of replacement.
“I could easily get a job down there or fund a business” he had told his wife one night after he got real pissed with situation.
“It was going to be at the right time and last night however was a warning that the right time is already very near.” He thought this morning after his family left for their separate businesses.
He didn’t go to hear, any gossip or local politics news with his free time every morning. What his dear wife did not understand was that he didn’t even have the luxury of time and was struggling very hard to liquidate all his assets. Four houses each a duplex stood in different parts of the town. Sometimes he wished he could up-root them and take them somewhere else, somewhere much safer and lucrative.
He had already found buyers for three of his houses. Even though price was half its worth he was ready to accept the cash. He knew his wife will be furious when she found out, he will just have to convince her.
“When the time comes she would understand that it was for the best of the family” he thought with a resigned faith as he drove to one of the buyer’s office.
Adanne’s father wanted to finalize the deal this morning. The buyer was a popular lawyer whose father had left him millions of naira. At thirty five the young man looked like he was in his early twenties.
He had a handsome face and eyes that flickered like flame. The young bright lawyer was studying the legal documents of the house when the first blast echoed. It sent cold shivers down his spin and a bewildered look of confusion on his face.
The second blast shook their seats as it did their mind before. From the office window which was on the second floor of a four floors building.
“The young man’s father owned the building”.
They could see the thick black smoke rising from the burning spot on the adjacent street. They could not ascertain the location from their view.
“It is either the market or the bank, these senseless terrorists wants to destroy our towns. They won’t ever succeed”, the young lawyer said regretful and walked backed causally to his seat, continued his reading as if nothing had just happened.
The older man didn’t walk back to his seat nor say a word to his partner; he merely turned and walked briskly to the door. He ran all the way down the flight of stairs. He wasn’t thinking about anything else but his wife, he just wanted to make sure she was still alive. “Her name kept echoing in his mind”
From his office the lawyer could see the other man’s red Mercedes car. It zoomed into the bend leaving white fumes behind. He could only assume what came over him or what will become of him.
With the picture of his lovely wife engraved on his thought he raced round the corner. He felt huge satisfaction upon seeing the bank still standing unhurt, the chaos around the market. This was soon shattered by a piece of steel that came out of nowhere and was flying towards his car. It pierced the windscreen then his skull smearing the interior of his car of many years with a mixture of blood and brain matters.
The light went out suddenly in his mind and his body went lymph.
Many swore the soldiers shot him in panic but the newspapers said the terrorists shot him. As many who died that morning the truth and the reason would probably never be un-earthed.



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