They came in flashes. They usually start that way. The nightmares. They have returned. They always do. Every time he closes his eyes to sleep, they come roaring back.
The images flashed and flickered, fading away almost immediately only to return again more gruesome than the ones before.
There were severed limbs. Bloody ragged limbs. Then came the heads. Bloody. Torn from their necks with their lifeless eyes staring accusingly at him. Then came the mountains of bodies. That was how they always came. Every night since Liberia. Every night since that unfortunate day that changed his life forever.
The bodies were heaped in large piles. Some had lost a body part or the other. Flies were everywhere and he could almost perceive the stench.
They were women, children, defenseless men. The butchers didn’t care. All they wanted was to kill more people in their selfish and senseless quest for power.
The images would as usual flicked and fade rapidly for a while, then dissolve into an event that happened several years ago.
This was the cross the dreamer had to bear, every single day after Liberia. He struggled and clawed from one side of the bed to the other, waking up the fair skinned prostitute he had hired for the night.
She was about protesting, as she sluggishly started to sit up. The man had been almost insatiable, taking her for numerous rounds of very hard and rough sex. Her whole body ached and she was about to voice her displeasure, but the words stuck in her mouth as she turned to look at the man laying beside her on the bed.
He was a very handsome man, she thought when she met him earlier that night, but looking at his face now, she could only see horror and rage written over it. His handsome face, was twisted into a horrifying mask as his teeth clenched firmly together, while he clawed and struck at an unseen assailant.
“Shebi this man no dey possessed or na epilepsy hol’ am so?” she said to nobody in particular. “Make this man no come die here. I no get strength for this kin’ wahala.”
She tried to shake him, but got a punch that sent her flying from the bed for her troubles.
She managed to climb back to the bed nursing her lip which was developing a bruise. She concluded that he must be having a nightmare, and thought it best to stay at the far end of the bed, away from his flying fists.
The scene unfolded. It always played out that way. Then he was a newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel of the Nigerian Army, on ECOMOG mission to Liberia.
The signal had come to the base that morning. Rebel forces had attacked a nearby village and now held hostage some UN aid workers. He was ordered to lead a battalion to the village and dislodge the rebels, as well as effect the rescue of the hostages.
Major Charles Uba, his best friend, had insisted on following him on the mission. Charles wanted to tell him something and didn’t want to wait until he returned from the operation to tell him.
The rebels resisted them as best as they could, but the ECOMOG Forces had superior firepower and soon flushed them out of the village, but not before two RPGS fired by the retreating rebel fighters destroyed their vehicles.
“We’ll either wait for them to send vehicles down here to pick us up, or trek back to the base,” he had said to his men.
The soldiers didn’t seem bothered about a 10mile trek, and the rescued UN Workers agreed with them to make the trek back to the ECOMOG base.
The rebels could regroup, and stage another attack at the village. The trek seemed a better option for them, than being sitting ducks.
He led the way, with Charles by his side, as they set off for the base.
The road was very wooded, and boarded by massive forests and his men walked cautiously, with their rifles at the ready, as the scanned the trees for any suspicious movements.
They hadn’t suffered any casualty at the village, and it made the journey easier and quicker for them, as they didn’t have to carry anybody. He was hopeful they’ll make it back to the base in good time for dinner.
“What did you want to tell me?” he had asked Charles as his eyes scanned the bushes around him.
“Aha, I almost forgot with all the heat and rush of the battle,” Charles had said looking very excited. “It’s about Yvonne, I want to propose to her today.”
Yvonne Appiah, was the Ghanaian Captain Charles had been hanging out with lately. She was a very beautiful lady, and seemed to find Charles very interesting. They made a perfect physical fit and several people had hinted marriage to his hearing, but he was rather surprised it came this soon.
“I’m not against it,” he had said. “But you guys just met barely three months now and you’re already talking about marriage.”
“Tanko my man,” Charles had said, patting him on the back. “You don’t need to know a lady for three years, to decide if she’s the one for you. Honestly, it shouldn’t take a man more than three months to decide if he has found the best person for him, and I think Yvonne is exactly what I need in my life.”
“What about your harem in Ojo?”
Both of them, were at Ojo barracks in Lagos, before they were both drafted to Liberia on peacekeeping.
Charles was the ladies favorite, and had numerous lady friends, even among the ratings. One or two wives of senior officers had made moves on him, but he stayed very far away from married women.
“Once I engage her,” he had said. “The news will be everywhere. Trust me, the news go reach Lagos before us, so they would have gotten over me even before I return. Besides I no promise anybody marriage.”
“Better for you,” Tanko had replied with a laugh. “Before a jilted woman go pour acid for Yvonne fine face.”
“She’s the first lady I’ve ever been serious with,” Charles had said. “All the others knew it was all about the moment nothing more.”
The bullets flew over head kicking up dirt on the road.
“Get down,” Tanko had shouted, diving for cover, as he fired off several rounds of ammunition at the direction the shots had come from.
The soldiers and UN Workers, all dove for cover wherever they could find it, even though there wasn’t much to shield them on the road.
His men fired into the surrounding forest at the unseen shooters. He raised a clenched fist and his men stopped firing and listened, trying to access the situation.
“Colonel,” a very loud voice had come from the trees. “I believe your rank is correct. I am Brigadier Joseph Mamba of the People’s Army of Liberia and I want to avoid any bloodshed on both sides.”
“I don’t want any bloodshed either,” Tanko had shouted. He had looked at his radio man Uche. “Radio to base for reinforcement. We may need a gunship down here.”
The radioman started speaking into his equipment, reporting their situation and giving their location to the base, while calling for bird to come for assistance.
“Good we are on the same page,” the voice of Brigadier Manna had boomed. “Please lay down your arms and surrender peaceful, so that we can avoid any sensless loss of lives on both sides today.”
“I beg to differ,” Tanko had replied. “I will suggest you leave us to continue on our way this instant Mr Mamba.”
“It is Brigadier,” Mamba had sounded very irritated and impatient. He probably knew reinforcement wouldn’t be far away and probably hoped the ECOMOG soldiers would surrender, if they realized they had little chance against him and his men. “I am ordering you as a superior officer to surrender this minute. You are all sitting ducks out there in the open. We’ll pick you out one by one like target practice. Surrender now or risk the lives of the civilians with you. I assure you, you will be treated fairly in accordance to the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners. We will exchange you for our own, held captive by your people and all will be well.”
Tanko had turned to Uche who had given him a thumbs up. Reinforcement was on the way. The bird was in the air. He just had to stall a little longer. The UN Workers were shivering with fear. The rebel’s threat had effect them, and they were practically begging the ECOMOG soldiers to surrender.
“Mr Mamba,” Tanko had said. “I do not recognize your rank or the army you claim to represent. For our good and your good, I will urge you to retreat and let us be on our way. Besides it’s in violation of the same Geneva Convention, to attack unarmed aid workers, who have only come to help your own people, who you are causing untold hardship to, by your senseless war.”
The rebel leader had started to say something, but Charles could hear the rotors of the approaching helicopter gunship, as well as the rumbling of speeding APCs approaching their location. He knew reinforcement had arrived.
“Fuck you,” Charles had shouted at the direction Mamba’s voice was coming from, as he jumped to his feet and opened fire.
“Charles stay down!” Tanko had shouted.
Charles turned to him and smiled. Maybe he wanted to obey the order. Tanko could never tell. The bullets struck him in the chest lifting him into the air and sent him crashing to the ground.
“Charles!” Tanko had screamed, as he jumped to his feet and emptied his magazine into the trees. His men opened fire as well just as the first APC arrived the scene and it’s 45 gun started spraying the trees and any human being within them with 45rounds.
Lieutenant Adebanjo, his team medic was already on Charles trying to stop the bleeding. Tanko ran to the side of his friend and held his hand. Charles looked at him and smiled. That was the the last smile he would see from his best friend as Charles’ eyes rolled upward and nothing Adebanjo did everything he could to bring him back. Charles was dead.
The surviving rebels had started surrendering. They came out with their hands held over their heads.
Tanko had grabbed one of them by the collar. “Who is Mamba?”
The man pointed at their leader. Mamba was a very dark thin man with dreadlocks. Tanko shoved the rebel aside and advanced towards Mamba.
Fear had jumped into the rebel leader’s eyes, as Tanko pulled out his side arm.
“The Geneva Conven-,” he started to say.Tanko fired one round into his forehead.
The image froze. It felt like a scene from the Keanu Reeves Matrix movie. He assumed a third person view, removed from himself, and watching from the sideline.
The dream zoomed out, and the eye-camera panned 360 degrees around his frozen image.
The shot rang out.
He jumped to a sitting posture on the bed. His ears were still ringing as the sound of the pistol sounded so real and present to him.
The prostitute gasped, as she watched him sitting there breathing very heavily. Slowly, Tanko got to his feet. His body was dripping with sweat. He didn’t even look at her, as he walked out of the room. She soon heard the shower running.
She slowly looked around the room. She hadn’t had the chance when they first arrived, as the man had gone straight to business, immediately the bedroom door had closed behind them.
There wasn’t much furniture in the room, aside for a reading desk near the bed and a few framed photographs of uniformed men hanging about the room. The man was definitely army.
A holstered pistol lay on top of a bulky brown envelope, which she suspected was filled with money, but didn’t dare check. The wasn’t an ordinary customer.
The sound of the shower stopped and a moment later, the man stood at the doorway.
“Go and take your bath and get dressed,” he said without looking at her. “We’re leaving in the next ten minutes.”
The prostitute looked at the clock hanging on the wall opposite the bed. It was 5am. She gathered her clothes littered around the floor of the room and went into the bathroom.
Brigadier General Tanko Abdullahi, of the Nigerian Army was fully dressed in military office uniform, when the prostitute finally emerged, fully dressed, from the bathroom.
The pistol, which had been lying on the table, was now properly holstered at his belt and the envelope was in his left hand. In his right hand, he held out some one thousand Nigerian pounds bills, which the prostitute, at a glance, knew was above what they had agreed.
“Here’s your money,” he said to her. “We’ll do this again another time.”
“Yes sir,” she took the money and put it inside her purse. She had no intentions of doing this again even though she didn’t speak out.
He had taken her phone number earlier, after they got talking at the bar, but she knew she would not be picking his calls whenever he eventually tries to hook up with her again.
She was a prostitute, but she wasn’t really into that kind of rough sex, which seemed to be his specialty. Besides, after what she saw him go through, she didn’t want to relive that moment again.
Tanko swung around on his heels, and started walking briskly towards the door. The prostitute hurrying after him.
The compound was fairly large and three vehicles, a recent model Toyota Camry Sedan and a Peugeot 406 which was obviously his Staff car, by the markings on it as well as an escort Toyota Hilux truck, were parked in front of the house. Two soldiers sat on a long bench beside the gate talking. They quickly stood at attention when Tanko emerged. A third soldier came running out from the security booth when one of the guards called his name. He was struggling to get into his uniform as he ran towards the 406.
“I’ll drive myself today,” Tanko told the man who was clearly his driver. “Give me the key. I’ll park it with Ali at the airport so you can pick it up afterwards. My side arm will be inside it so be very careful with it.”
The soldier saluted the general before handing over the car key to him.
“Open the gates.”
Tanko opened the door of the car and got in behind the driving wheel. He waved at the prostitute and she got in beside him.
He dug the key into the ignition hole and brought the engine to life. He engaged the manual gears, putting it on reverse and drove the car out of the compound into the dark street. The powerful headlamps shone brightly as he turned them on, and pushing the gear stick to the first gear, he drove off as fast as the car could go.
The soldiers at the gate closed the gate while the driver removed his shirt and went back to the security booth to continue his sleep. He was having a very interesting dream and hoped he could continue from where he had stopped.
“Where am I dropping you off?” Tanko asked the prostitute.
“I stay at Ikeja sir.”
“My route,” he said.
A police patrol van drove alongside their car and the armed policemen stared at them. They probably saw the military markings on the car and continued on their way.
Night buses from all over the country had started pouring into the nation’s economic capital, Lagos. A Brazilian Marcopolo luxury coach belonging to one of Nigeria’s foremost and biggest transport firm The Young, roared past them heading to the company’s Maza-Maza terminal, where the night travellers will disembark and the vehicle would be prepared for a return trip to wherever it was coming, from with a fresh set of travellers.
Some shop owners had already started opening their shops, while some of the dreaded touts known as the alaye boys, had started moving about the street getting ready for the day’s business of extorting people.
Lagos was waking up.
Tanko maneuvered the 406, towards the area of the former Nigerian capital city, the prostitute had mentioned she would be getting down. It was a bit off his route, but he could afford to kill the time.
He soon rolled the car to a stop, near a roll of lockup shops where the prostitute pointed to be her stop, and waited for her to disembark and close the door behind her, before he drove away.
She stood there watching the red tail lights fade away in the distance. All her life, she had known pain and hatred. They were the fuel that helped her though the day with the type of work she did. She had never seen such pain and hatred she saw on that man’s face before, and had no intentions of seeing it again.
She started making her way back to the room she shared with another prostitute. She would count her money when she got home.
Tanko kept on driving until he arrived at a very large compound, somewhere in the outskirts of the city. The owner of the land, had turned the place into a private cemetery and housed some very wealthy former tenants of Lagos in it. Getting a hole in that place wasn’t cheap and Tanko had to pay through his nose before he could get it.
The old man opened the gate at the sound of the car horn. Tanko had called him earlier, alerting him of his visit at this very early hour and he was waiting.
Tanko parked the car near a small hut that served as the undertaker’s store, though the old man slept in it whenever he couldn’t go home.
The old man locked the gate and met Tanko as the soldier removed a beautifully crafted wreath from the backseat of the car.
Tanko dropped the wreath on the roof of the car and opened the envelope. He handed the old man, a large wad of cash, and picking up the wreath, he started making his way through the tombstones, while the excited old man counted the money.
Tanko could find the grave he was looking for even blindfolded. He had come here so many times over the years, that he knew the way like the back of his hand.
He had hoped his visits would break the nightmares that plagued, him but they did. Now, he knew what he had to do, to exorcise himself from the nightmares and today, that cure would be set in motion in faraway Calabar.
He pulled out his back-up phone, an Infinix android smartphone, and scrolled through the menu to the flashlight app. The light from the phone luminated the tomb. The tombstone bore the name and nothing more.
Charles didn’t have a family. He was an only child from Abia State and had lost his parents when he was very young. On his will, he had named Tanko as his only family which came as a surprise to Tanko.
He spent everything Charles had willed him as well as everything he had back then, to afford the hole in the cemetery. He also paid the yearly maintenance fee from his salaries.
Yvonne had requested to leave the mission after his death, and had remained unmarried till date.
She still kept in close contact with Tanko. He would brief her later of the outcome of today’s meeting in Calabar.
“My brother,” Tanko spoke to the grave. “How are you doing?”
A soft breeze blew through the grave, rustling some dried leaves, as if the dead was responding to him.
“I’m about leaving for Calabar my dear brother,” Tanko continued. “I think it’s time we take action on what you have always talked about. By the end of the week, the whole nation will shake at what we must do and your name will be remembered for the sacrifice you gave for this country.”
He paused as if waiting for a response but none came. He laid the wreath on the grave and took a step back.
He saluted smartly as tears filled his eyes. He could almost see Charles’ smiling face.
“Wish me luck my dear brother.”
He turned around on his heels and marched away towards his car.
The old man saw him coming back and quickly opened the gate. Tanko climbed into his car and brought the engine to life. He was soon on the road leading to Murtala Mohammed Airport.
Today, he would set in motion an event of which the ripple effect, would lead to a lot of reforms in the Nigerian Armed Forces. His actions may be misunderstood, but in time, he would be appreciated and maybe, celebrated.
The AK-47, officially known as the Avtomat Kalashnikova (Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова, tr. Avtomát Kaláshnikova, lit.’Kalashnikov’s automatic device’; also known as the Kalashnikov and AK), is a gas-operated, 7.62×39mm assault rifle, developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is the originating firearm of the Kalashnikov rifle (or “AK”) family. 47 refers to the year it was finished.
AK-47 Type 2 with fixed bayonet.
Type Assault rifle
Place of origin Soviet Union
In service 1949–1974 (Soviet Union)
1949–present (other countries)
Designer Mikhail Kalashnikov 1946–1948
Manufacturer Kalashnikov Concern and various others including Norinco
No. built ≈ 75 million AK-47s, 100 million Kalashnikov-family weapons.
Variants AKS (AKS-47), AKN (AKSN), RPK, AKM
Mass Without magazine:
3.47 kg (7.7 lb)
0.43 kg (0.95 lb) (early issue)
0.33 kg (0.73 lb) (steel)
0.25 kg (0.55 lb) (plastic)
0.17 kg (0.37 lb) (light alloy)
Length Fixed wooden stock:
880 mm (35 in)
875 mm (34.4 in) folding stock extended
645 mm (25.4 in) stock folded
Barrel length Overall length:
415 mm (16.3 in)
Rifled bore length:
369 mm (14.5 in)
Action Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire Cyclic rate of fire:
Combat rate of fire:
Semi-auto 40 rds/min
Bursts 100 rds/min
Muzzle velocity 715 m/s (2,350 ft/s)
Effective firing range 350 m (380 yd)
Feed system 20-round, 30-round detachable box magazine
There are also 40-round, 75- and 100-round drum magazines available
Sights 100–800 m adjustable iron sights
378 mm (14.9 in)
Design work on the AK-47 began in 1945. In 1946, the AK-47 was presented for official military trials, and in 1948, the fixed-stock version was introduced into active service with selected units of the Soviet Army.
The AK-47 was locally produced in Nigeria by the Nigeria Defense Arms Industry during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and named 006. It is still in use by the Nigeria Army.