Her name is Chinelo Megafu. She graduated in Dentistry from the University of Port-Harcourt in 2015. Ah, you already know her? She had never been one to seek cheap popularity. Her becoming a household name was entirely beyond her control. As a medic, she was trained to save lives. Nothing prepared her for a situation in which lives would be ebbing away all around her (including her own life, by the way) and she would be totally helpless in doing anything about it.
The train ride had been a jolly one until the loud band which signalled the arrival of doomsday. Unknown to anyone on the train, some terrorists had mined a section of the rail track which exploded as soon as the train crossed the section. Like bees, armed terrorists emerged from the bush and started shooting. She was hit. Many other people were. Others were abducted and taken away by the agents of terror. There she was, a trained saver of lives unable to save anyone, helpless.
But she was not trained to give up. When in trouble, reach out. The common humanity that you share with the rest of humankind will propel them to come to your aid. So, in the midst of pain, loss of blood and ebbing consciousness, she did the best thing she could in the circumstance: she sent out a tweet about her predicament.
“I am in the train. I have been shot. Please pray for me.”
Internet fiends and trolls are always quick to the ball. One Big Dave @odogwupanther who obviously has lost his humanity, mocked, “…Why would someone believe this? You got shot on a train, instead of calling for help the next thing is to come on twitter and say we should pray for you. And moreover no one is on the train with you…”
When other contributors descended on him for those insensitive comments, the coward quietly deleted his comments.
Another one, Abolore @ysone2 sniggered: “Are you dead now?”
Comments such as the above are standard fare on social media whenever any grievous thing happens. Complete loonies, thinking that their comments won’t attract attention unless outrageously offensive, quickly populate cyberspace with their display of bad upbringing and savagery.
On the side of the angels, people like Cynthia Chioma Njoku @cynchimanj, were on hand to give mockers a dose of their own medicine. On the confirmation that Chinelo had died, Cynthia frontally replied to Abolore @ysone2: “Yes, she’s dead now. You can come feast on her corpse.”
Another passenger in the same train, Anas Iro Danmusa, lived to tell her story. Immediately the attack started, she contacted both her brother and the Kaduna State Commissioner for Information, Samuel Aruwan.
Anas also cried for help on her Facebook page: “Please this is an emergency. We are inside a train at the moment. Kidnappers planted explosives and the train engines have been ruined. We are helpless. Abuja to Kaduna train. Gunshots still being fired right around us. We are just under the seats praying to God while waiting for help. Since 8:00p.m. we have been here.”
Anas’ Facebook post was shared widely by concerned people in cybersphere with many showing empathy. How different are the tribes of Facebook responders from their Twitter counterparts! Same incident, different reactions. Different folks, different strokes.
Aruwan requested her to share her location via WhatsApp and he promptly forwarded the coordinates to the military commanders who swiftly traced the scene and rescued the remaining. The rescue came too late for many passengers who had been taken away by the terrorists, allegedly in five Toyota Sienna buses.
Some puzzles, though: Anas noted that three doors of the coaches were left open as the train sped along and that a concerned passenger had to personally shut them. Why were the doors left open?
Also some passengers said they saw a strange man in mufti with a walkie-talkie but didn’t think much of it until they later saw that the terrorists too were using walkie-talkie to communicate with their coordinator.
Again, one lady saw a member of a gang that had kidnapped her before. She looked forward to exposing him when the train reached the Rigasa terminus. But the train never made it to destination and the kidnapper melted into the night with his fellow terrorists.
How come Kaduna is becoming the headquarters of terrorists when the state hosts at least 12 military and police formations? Those who think that building monasteries and purchasing hoods are tantamount to acquiring holiness will eventually be consumed by the gaseous suffocation of their stupidity.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation has not publicly released the train’s manifest. Many people have said that there is no reliable manifest because of the endemic corruption in the system about which this columnist had written in the past. The facts released are that 398 tickets were sold but only 362 passengers boarded. But some sources have put the total number of passengers in the train at 970. If true, the only plausible explanation for the difference is corruption — ticket racketeering.
I have written before about the opaque way we run public enterprises acquired with foreign loans. The railways are being run as an arm of the Ministry of Transport. I have used the service before and from what I saw, it is clear that the government has no intention of realising the huge funds sunk into the project. Train tickets are being sold in the black market at a premium right inside the train stations. The online portal is sometimes sabotaged so that passengers will have no option but to proceed to the station to negotiate with the touts. Selling train tickets is not rocket science. This is pure sleaze.
As all the commotion — which Anas wrote so touchingly about —was going on, Dr Chinelo Megafu continued bleeding, having been shot in the stomach. She must have wondered how internet demons on twitter reacted to her call for help. Those demons are irredeemable because even when their error was pointed out to them, they still insisted that they had a right to taunt a dying woman. Suppose she was lying, they argued. The Devil has no salvation. No matter how hard you try, some people will still take the expressway to damnation.
What is the difference between the bandits who fired the shots and the internet terrorists who lie in wait to further confound anyone in distress? It is now fashionable for cowards hiding under the umbrella of anonymity in cyberspace to display their total lack of good breeding by putting down anyone they perceive as their betters. They will never find peace.
Apparently, a sense of peace, well-being and painlessness, a sense of removal from the world descended on Chinelo as she set on her journey to eternity. Ever so polite, she still managed to thank a fellow passenger who was fanning her with his newspaper. The man says he will always treasure that final “Thank you”.
Experts say that when the departure of the spirit from the human body is imminent, the dying person is immersed in a powerful light and observes goings on around the immediate environment from above. They underline five stages: Peace; Body separation; Entering a void; Seeing the light; and Entering another realm of existence, through the light. The person sees his life flash before his eyes like the reels of a film. We shall never know what Chinelo saw. But she was at peace as she was evacuated.
The Nigerian Medical Association was distraught at the violent termination of such a promising life. “The untimely death of the young, promising Dr Chinelo who served at the Kaduna State Dental Centre and worked with St Gerrard’s Hospital, Kakuri, while striving to earn an honest living, is one other death too many. The Association notes that needless blood-letting and senseless loss of lives is fast becoming a recurring decimal in our country, thus worsening the alarming effects of brain drain, which in many instances have been attributable to the worsening security situation in the country,” the statement read.
One commentator who was a friend of the deceased actually revealed that she had recently resigned her appointment because she had gained employment in a foreign country and was due to travel out in a matter of days. The bandits arrested her future.
Goodnight, Chinelo. You are a metaphor for the state of the nation. When parents become pall bearers and their children become ancestors before their very eyes, you know that the society has fallen short of the glory of God. Peace to you, Chinelo, perfect peace!
- Wole Olaoye is a Public Relations consultant and veteran journalist. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021
Editor’s Note: The father of Chinelo, Engr. Ifeanyi Megafu on Saturday issued a statement through a Facebook post. The statement is reproduced below. Let’s keep the Megafu family and all the families of the victims of the ‘Train Ride of Terror’ in our prayers.
Chinelo, my daughter has suddenly become the face of a beleaguered nation. A gentle, soft soul and lifesaver whose own life was gruesomely cut short in a most dastardly manner by Amorites. Suddenly the phones have not stopped ringing just as I have been assailed by numerous requests including interviews by international electronic press and other publicity. She craved for peace just as I do. At that last moment she prayed and asked the world to pray for her, being a fervent believer in the Lord Jesus. As I process the events and plan on bidding her farewell I need peace and quiet. May her gentle soul rest peacefully in the Lord's bosom. Adieu Nwando. Shalom. - Ifeanyi Megafu (Facebook)