Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Two Fulani Angels

I will also thanks two very helpful Fulani men who were of immense help to me on my trip to Niger.
Mr. Bala Ibrahim. This gentleman can best be described as an understanding father and a lover of justice. He and his men of the Nigerian Immigration were at the border between Nigeria/Niger when I passed it last week Tuesday (11th of April 2017). I passed their post without paying a dime (usually, immigration officers at borders collect a fee before stamping passports to admit someone who does not require a visa into West Africa). However, at the Niger Republic border when the immigration officers requested I pay 10000cfa to pass and I bluntly refused, insisting it is free and even if I will pay, I will give them nothing more than 3000cfa. This seemed to get to the Niger's commanding officer’s nerves and he requested his men to conduct a thorough search on me. This was because according to him, I was coming to do business and not tourism, which I said, was what am coming for. However, he saw some of my valid visas which proved to him I was not headed to Agadez(it's a border town with Libya and it's a route for illegal immigrants to Europe).

In my whole life, I have ever been search the way I was searched that day. The type of search I was subjected to that day was horrible (I prefer to use interesting though). I removed everything on me except my under pants. He later even checked what was inside the under pants to be sure there's no exhibit. They had to cut my shoes to be sure I had nothing inside. I was just there laughing and afterwards, he said I should pack my things, pay the 10000cfa or go back. I told him I will go back.
Back to the Nigerian side, I narrated my ordeal to the Nigerian officers who were worried about the development. They told me to thank God they found nothing on me and that if they did, it could have been something else, because they could have arrested me. Their display of love and concern was something out of this world and at that point knowing I am Igbo, they had to escalate to their overall boss at that border, Mr Bala Ibrahim. He came, took my passport and after going through it, asked me to follow him in his bike. He took me to the Niger Immigration officers and spoke with their boss. Some other junior officers outside were cheering me that I was smart to have gone back.
After the ‘oga to oga’ talk inside, the Niger officer took my passport and stamped it and Mr Ibrahim now asked me to give them anything I had. Well, I had to give them 5000cfa eventually - to prove it’s not that am broke that I did not want to pay what they demanded.
I wanted a picture with Mr Bala for this post but he told me the Niger officers would complain if we do that at their end but that I can have his telephone no which I gladly collected. Please anyone who knows this man should help me thank him.
Meanwhile, I spent almost two hours on all these and waiting outside was another Ibrahim, another Fulani guy from Ilela in Sokoto State of Nigeria. He was patient all through and did not complain. After the whole incident, he even took me to the Airtel office to get a SIM card; to Banque Atlantique to make some transactions and then to the car company that I would be travelling with the next day. His display of patience was so excellent and I wish to thank him for it.