Political Enemy || by Nneoma M. Egeonu



JULY, 1998

JUDE DIKE SHIVERED IN HIS CELL. His eyes flung open, unaware of what lay in store for him. Every waking minute inched him closer to insanity. Rusty springs of his bug-infested mattress dug into his back, a constant reminder that he was far from home. 

     The revolting smell of urine and faeces churned his stomach. Steel spider web bars sagged under gravity at a corner in his cell, like swathes that lost their vigour. 

     He stood up and paced towards a corner to make a pee into a plastic bottle. His neck bones popped out of his shoulder through his white shirt. He had lost a good deal of weight.

     "Everything happens for a reason. Trust God." Pastor Oli's voice resounded in his ear, and the memory of his sermon sometimes brought him comfort.

     Jude glanced at the dull cracked walls effused with faint speckles of blood and paintings etched with memories of madmen who clawed in as they neared their death.

     He gave a calm smile, thoughts of his wife, Obiageli, creeping into his memory. 

     Kamsi must have grown big, he thought. His wife had birthed her as soon as he was dumped here. He had never been able to act like a father.

     He looked up at the blurred window fitted at the left corner of his elevated cell. An unnerving feeling paralysed him as he stared into a tiny creak of light peering through the dust patches that stood like ghosts of past souls returning to haunt the cell. 

     It's been a year since his solitary confinement and he wondered what it would be like to feel the sun's rays again. 

     "Oga Editor, the comptroller say make I give you this," the prison warder said, unlocking the door and handing him a drug alongside a plate of Tuwo.

     "This doesn't seem like the full dosage," he replied, peeking through the bars.

     "Full ke? No be typhoid? Abegi comot this thing for my hand! You still dey think say na for house you dey."

     Resigned, he gave a light bow. "Thanks."

     "Drink am and chop fast. The police commissioner dey come see you." 


MAY 4TH, 1995.

THE SOUND OF MILITARY SHOES crunching the cement floor thundered outside the airless, SSS detention centre cell at Apapa. Twenty armed men filed outside while two soldiers overpowered and threw Jude Dike into their van.

     Jude was holed and chained up in the military Black Maria van, which creaked thunderously at each bump, ramming his head into the iron frame. The heavily armed soldiers were in five trucks and the cars cruised on at an alarming speed. 

     At the military tribunal, Twenty staunch faced men in uniforms sat on cushioned chairs, ten other uniformed men stood at a corner, armed with automatic weapons.

     "I don't know what you are talking about," Jude said with a stern face. He was the Editor-in-Chief of NewsExpress newspaper.

     "Who instructed you to publish the story on the coup?" Brig. Gen Okon questioned.

     "No one did."

     "Who's your source?"

     "Revealing that will be against press freedom." 

     "My friend answer the question or I waste you here!" a staunch faced soldier cursed at Jude.

     "Your paper published a story claiming that Gen. Abacha was Ill?"

     "Well, he is the Head of State, so the citizens ought to know about his condition—"

     "Shut up!" A soldier struck Jude on his back with a rifle.

     "The press tried to instigate a civil war by siding with the coup plotters, are you aware?"

     "Siding with coup plotters? I know nothing about that. All I know is that it is the freedom of the press to express ourselves."

     Murmurs spread across the room and gave way to silence. The officers exchanged glances and nodded to seal their sole decision.

     The chairman heaved a sigh, a sharp glare darting through his eyes. "You are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment for being an accessory after the fact of treason!"

     Jude pulled a frown, eyes widened. "You can't do this! accessory after the fact of treason? What does that even mean?"

     "We like making scapegoats to deter other irresponsible Nigerian journalists," the chairman said with a smirk.

     At once, the soldiers whisked Jude away, driving him off to the Maiduguri Prisons. 

     The Prison gate stood, a towering mass of stone-cold steel and merciless concrete. The gates gaped wide open and a line of blue-clad inmates shuffled to their punishment. 

     A carpet of dull-coloured grasses scattered halfway through, and the hallways reeked of wasted opportunities and lives stolen by metal fences. A whisper of gloom hung in the air.


JULY, 1998

THE DOOR CREAKED AND Jude sprang up from the floor, startled.

     "Arrange your things, you've been released" the commissioner informed him.


     "Gen. Sani Abacha just passed away and President Abubakar ordered for the release of political prisoners."

     Jude raised a brow. How could that be, that Abacha died so suddenly? But of course he should believe; the Commissioner wouldn't make such an appearance if not that a grand thing as such happened. He slowly beamed a smile at him. Should he laugh now? Or puff a breath of relief?      

     The commissioner eyed him. "Get home at once. Your wife and daughter died in an accident this morning."


NNEOMA MICHELLE EGEONU is a creative writer, an Amazon best-selling author, poet and a graduate of Applied Microbiology and Brewing from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Nigeria. She is a passionate lover of music and nature.

Nneoma is an avid reader with an eye for great literary pieces. She describes herself as a writer with a profound message. She believes in positively influencing society by bringing pertinent issues to the fore through effective storytelling.

Her stories reflect on the complex realities of the human condition. In addition to creative writing, she also writes thought-provoking, non-fiction, and poems. 

Nneoma's stories cut across genres such as crime fiction, historical fiction and literary fiction. Her debut book titled Nightmare In Sicily is enjoyed by global readers and was officially included in a post-graduate exam scheme in a tertiary institution.

Aside from her interest in writing and reading, she enjoys dancing, singing, traveling, as well as watching thriller TV shows.

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  1. What a very important story! It is important because it shows how very little a progress we have made politically, since Nigeria's military Era - no freedom of speech, mass oppression, suppression, and exploitation of the people. This story serves to remind us that we still have a long way to go, in terms of human liberty - the right to self expression.
    Furthermore, the story draws our attention to the role of law enforcement agencies in the oppression, suppression, and subjugation of the people. Specifically, it shows how the ruling class has been able to weaponize and legitimize fear - the presence of men armed to the teeth, guarding unarmed Jude, and the latter's assault by one of the officers is testament to this fact.

    This story is important. I encourage everyone to read it.
    Thanks for writing Nneoma!

    Kelechi Amadi

  2. I've seen very few writers like Nneoma. Her fluidity, voice and language will grip your attention, you just wouldn't drop it

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