The Nigeria League champions, Kano Pillars will be back in action this weekend against Bayelsa United in their first domestic game of the season, more than a week after being attacked by a deadly gang of armed robbers.
The experience the team went through on March 5 on their way to Owerri, is still very fresh in the minds of the players.
One of them, Reuben Ogbonnaya, narrated to PREMIUM TIMES how they were robbed right within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in broad-day light, and how he miraculously survived a gunshot to the back of his head.
How it started:
Ogbonnaya said the armed robbers waited for them on a slope ensuring that the driver would be unable to reverse as they were driving on a hilly road.
“On that particular day, all of a sudden on our way, it was after the checkpoint,” Ogbonnaya. “We had gone a bit far when we ran into these people. They were already on the road. What I could see was that there were people in front of us with guns. They covered their faces with black masks. From my own angle I saw about three people but others say they were more than three. I couldn’t see them on time from afar. We did not notice them quickly because we climbed a hilly place and they stayed by the sloppy side, you won’t know if somebody is there.
“Immediately we saw them, we couldn’t do anything but we had to stop as they started pointed a gun at us. The last thing I saw before I bent my head down, a person in front that was holding a gun. He came to the driver and ordered him to come down; that was the last thing I saw. Everybody bent their heads down. They were saying: “Bamu kudi, bamu kudi, give us money give us money.” So we all removed and gave them our money.
“I started praying and all of a sudden they started shooting. I was shot on the back of my head, so I started saying I shall not die. It didn’t go to my brain but it went to my skull. They didn’t take anything from me. Out of fear we said let’s give them what we have so they can go. At that particular time, they said we should come down. One of them spoke pidgin: “Make dem no come down. You know say them plenty pass us oh.”
“One of my team mates said we should go down if they asked us. But they thought if we come down, we will attack them. They collected money, they still shot. They were still asking for money that was when my attention went there. They now stopped and they shot Gambo, they shot me at the back of my head. The reason why they opened fire is what we cannot tell.
“I used my handkerchief to cover the wound, so that blood won’t come out.
“Police did not come. Nobody knew what was happening. It’s a spot we can’t identify, but it’s after a military checkpoint that was in Abaji.”
Describing the kind of medical treatment they have received so far, Ogbonaya said they were well taken care of. He also commended the Governor of Kano state and the doctors for the adequate treatment they were getting.
“They used an ambulance to take us back to Kano,” Ogbonnaya said. “We left the bus with other players and officials. We didn’t care for anything. We stopped at Abuja then straight to Kano. We are all fine now, they are taking good care of us here in Kano. We just came back from the hospital. Two other people are discharged. Only Gambo Mohammed is still there because he was really hurt. The governor came to see us and they are taking care of us.”
While the armed bandits fired bullets sporadically at the players, those hit were Adamu Murtala, Otekpa Eneji, Gambo Mohammed and Reuben Ogbonnaya.
The CAF postponed Pillars’ second round tie in the CAF Champions League against Morocco’s Moghreb Tetouane earlier scheduled for March 14 by a week as the injured players continue to recover from the attack and trauma.