I was sitting in the office one Wednesday while i was still a staff with an on street parking company preparing to close for the day, while waiting for the field officers who were supposed to sign out with the electronic biometrics on my desk and aslo return the POS to me. Suddenly my eyes began to sting, i thought an insect flew into my eyes, but the sting hurt me more and tears began streaming down my eyes and i could barely leave it open. While i was still wondering what caused it, i heard colleagues of mine screaming as well that tear gas had been released. I was shocked to the bones. Tear gas in the office? who would release tear gas in the office? I could understand motorist getting angry about vehicles been clamped or towed away, but getting angry to the point of releasing tear gas was just taking anger to a whole new level. Lots of my colleagues were coughing and expressing their displeasure. None of us could open our eyes, infact most of us had to use the wall as guide to get out of the building, we got temporarily blind, and we were on the third floor which was not easy to get down with eyes almost closed. I had cartarrh immediately, i could hardly control the tears and the carrtarh running down my face. When i got a bit far from the office i could finally open my eyes. We never got to know who released the tear gas.
It was a good thing i did not use mascara, history would have repeated itself like it did in 2006, during my service year.
As a Corp member serving in Oyo, Oyo state in 2006, i was always traveling to Benin where my twin sister served as a Corp member as well. I preferred Benin because it was livelier than Oyo. Though i enjoyed the peace and quiet of Oyo town, but sometimes i felt really bored.
I served in a missionary secondary school and lived within the premises with other Corp members, because it was a school, i had opportunity to travel a lot during the termly holidays.
On one of such trips to Benin, i saw a flier of a show taking place at Time Out, with Tuface as the major performer on the list was also Blaqface and other artists and comedians. I was highly elated as they were my favorite artists.
My sister and i decided to get a VIP ticket for five thousand naira in order to have a good view of the artists and get a comfortable seat. We got the ticket a few days before show and got word that there would be enough security.
The Dee day arrived and we arrived just in time before the show began, got our good VIP seat. True to their word, there were lots of police men,SARS, mobile policemen and Military men. We felt really secured because we had heard lots about how notorious shows could get in Benin.
There were some celebrities, now i can only remember Clem Ohameze now, because he sat adjacent my Sister and i.
Some local Comedians were already thrilling us with their jokes while we laughed heartily. Some local artists also performed. These went on till 12 midnight when the anchor of the show invited Tuface to the Podium. We heard his voice before he came into view so that the audience would believe that he was really around for the show.
Just then, we heard a loud bang, my heart skipped a beat, i assumed it was an explosive because i had so much faith in the number of uniformed men i saw before coming in.
while i was settling back in and anxiously waiting to hear Tuface thrill us, my eyes began to sting. It was so pepperish, while i was trying to ask my sister, she said her eyes were stinging as well. I noticed that everyone were blinking uncontrollably. I was seriously trying to fight back tears, but my eyes stung too much, by now tears was flowing freely like River Niger. It got worse because i wore a mascara,so i could not tell which hurt more, the mascara or the tear gas. Then i heard people screaming tear gas, tear gas!! That was the first time i experienced tear gas. The next thing was sporadic gun shots, this time i was very sure it was not just explosives.
There was confusion and pandemonium everywhere. People running in all directions, and there was just one entrance which was also the exit door. The lights went out, we were temporarily blinded by the teargas sting, so this time around we couldnt see anything. It was so dark. People were hiding in all corners,colliding and calling each other's names out.
By now my sister and i held tight to each other even though we did not know how to get out or what to do. The worst thing that could happen was to lose sight of each other in that darkness.
This was one reason we did not want to attend shows in Benin, but because we were assured of safety we decided to come and look at how it turned out. What do we do? How do we get home safely? I regretted wasting five thousand naira on a ticket that became useless, i wished i used the money for something else, but regret would not help us at that time, all we needed to do was find a way out.We asked ourselves numerous questions, because no one knew what direction the gunshots were coming from or who fired the guns. We saw people trying to protect themselves with these white plastic chairs to avoid stray bullet, we did same, it was not like it would have protected us from the bullets, but it was better than nothing at all.
After what seemed like eternity, we found our way out into the street, now where do we go from here? There were no taxis or bikes around and it was far from Iyobosa street,off Ekenwa road where my sister lived.
We wandered aimlessly about a bit, though there were lots of people from the show as well loitering the street, luckily for us we met good Samaritans who gave us a ride to My sister's house. We were as scared as chickens in the vehicle, we were afraid of getting raped or attacked, but that was our only option,because we could not sleep on the street neither could we trek the distance. Finally we got home and i could only breathe a sigh of relief, all the fears were gone, by the time i looked in the mirror, i laughed hard at myself, the tear marks on my face was black because of the mascara, and that was the last show i attended in Benin.