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Friday, March, 19, 2010 will forever remain indelible in the mind of Richard Jideaka, the Sports Correspondent of The Sun Newspapers, Abuja office. It was a day the former Secretary General of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), lost his car, a Toyota Sienna space bus to armed robbers.

After robbing him of the car, the robbers asked him to give his life to Christ if he survived the attack. Jideaka's ordeal in the hands of the robbers, started shortly after he left the office on the fateful day at about 7.30 pm. After work, Jideaka headed for his home in Kubwa, a satellite town in Abuja.

The journey to Kubwa, was smooth as usual until a few metres to his house. His driver had barely stopped to buy him a recharge card when four young hefty looking robbers suddenly overtook his vehicle and ordered his driver out of the car at gun point. They forcefully moved the driver out of his seat and ordered him to take to the passenger's seat behind.

Obviously confused about the attitude of the strange men, a now distraught Jideaka, requested to know why they were manhandling his driver. The response was precise. 'You will find out when we get to the police station.' Immediately, Jideaka was also forced to move to the back seat of the car at gun point. The robbers sped off with him and his driver. The incident soon attracted his neighbours and family members, who ran to a nearby police station where the case was reported.

Richard took up the story: 'It was when they forced me into the back seat with my driver that it dawned on me that they were robbers and not policemen as they claimed to be. They took my phones and the money on me and within three minutes they drove off with us with their gun pointed at my head to an unknown destination.

'While in the car, the robbers called me a 419ner. That I should regard myself kidnapped and that they were sent by my colleague to kill me and steal my car. Next they said if I am not a 419ner, where did I get money to buy a big car. When they saw my laptop, they felt convinced that I was actually a 419ner or that I was into yahoo, yahoo deals. I told them I am a journalist but they refused to believe me until they saw my tape recorder.

'They took the rings on my finger and asked me which one of them was my juju. I told them that none of them was a charm. One of them then threw the rings into his pocket and asked me to bring my wristwatch and the money in my pockets. I quickly handed them over. They commended me for cooperating with them and promised not to kill or harm me because I am a good man.

'Along the line, they asked me to pray that they do not encounter police on the way. That if they do, they would shoot me first. I prayed that we do not meet police on the way and they said 'Amen'. Thereafter, they urged me to give my life to God if I survived the attack and I told them that I had since given my life to Christ. They said I should do that again, and I said okay.

'At a point, they asked me where I work. Sensing that they were thinking of asking for ransom, I told them I work for a new newspaper based in Abuja. The next question was where my wife works and I told them my wife is a retiree who was still waiting to be paid her gratuity by the ministry she worked with in Abuja. One of the robbers then concluded that I had nothing and that holding on to me would be of no benefit and therefore, I should be dropped in the bush. All along, I and my driver were not to fix our gazes on any of them. They had their guns already pointed at our heads.

'When I stole to look at the speedometer, I discovered that they were almost running the full speed of the car. I said silent prayers that we do not crash. I discovered that they were heading for the city centre instead of the Zuba they made us believe they were going. After about eight kilometres drive at break-neck speed, they branched off the expressway into the bush and asked us to come down and run for our lives. We obeyed immediately and dashed into the bush.

Together with their operation car [a Camry 1996 model] they drove off

'After spending sometime in the bush, we eventually trekked out and met some securitymen guarding some equipment and asked them where we were. They told us we were between New Tipper Garage and Katampe Hill. We then crossed to the other side of the road and boarded a bus back to Kubwa where my wife had already reported the incident to the police. 'All my neighbours had gathered in front of my house and were offering prayers for my safety. As soon as they sighted us, the shout of praise the Lord rented the air even as they rushed to greet me.

'My wife and children who had locked themselves in the house, praying for my safety, rushed out of the house when they heard the shout of praise the Lord to find me in the hands of our jubilating neighbours who were too happy to see me return safely.'

As at press time, last weekend, Jideaka, was yet to recover his car.