Sgt. Sunday Badang’s last walk on earth covered just about 100 metres. But, it was the most chilling, eerily breath-taking walk anyone could have embarked on. It was spectacular, but so poignantly tragic that even the gladiators of the old Roman empire would feel a bit luckier.
And the setting for his death was more like that of an amphi-theatre of the Romans.
A mammoth crowd stood on high grounds overlooking the main Gari-Kawo road at Unguwan Sarki, Kaduna around 11:30am last Tuesday when Badang was to die. Soldiers and Police had blocked off all traffic leading to that point of the road. No pedestrian was allowed 100 metres from an electric pole that was about 50 meters from an overhead bridge.
Under the electric poll was transparent polythene bag, which had some concealed contents wrapped in a smaller black polythene bag. Police, Soldiers and plainclothesmen stayed far away from the pole and the bag that looked more of a dustbin. The polythene bag was the object of intense curiosity by the thousands that morning.
About 30 minutes earlier, residents of that Muslims populated area had seen a similar looking polythene bag besides a broken down car just by their market. The leather bag later exploded, causing a huge pandemonium. It was after that blast that Badang and his bomb detecting squad arrived Unguwan Sarki.
Residents swore to the squad that another bomb was planted nearby by. They showed them the polythene bag that was now the subject interest and stayed clear. The security men then decided to cut off traffic, and stop movement of any kind at least 100 metres from the poll.
That was what pulled the thousands of onlookers.
Badang, was the one to go and diffuse or detonate the suspected explosive.
He walked from where his squad had parked and started approaching the pole. He pulled out a bomb detector and held in by his right hand. Some from the crowd were even clapping, and hailing his bravery as he leisurely walked on. At a point, he even looked up and acknowledged the encouragement by waving back.
He may have felt like some kind of star. Soon, he was standing by the object. He bent and peered into the polythene bag. The murmuring of the crowd died down to drop-pin silence. He put the detector into the bag for a few seconds and brought it out again.
The crowd was stiff silent. Only the wailing of a siren far away could be heard.
It was like the breathless moment before a penalty at a very important international meet was taken.
Badang kept the detector by the side on the ground. He now put his hands into the bag.
At that point, the crowd cheered in wild jubilation. But for only less than five seconds
A deafening explosion rattled the ground. A gust of orange colour flames, dust and smoke banged out and formed grim grey colour of death.
There was absolute confusion.
By the road side, about 20 metres from the pole, was Badang’s body, parts of it blown off, as he lay cold dead.
(His last few seconds on earth was revealed in grim video coverage by one Al Amin Video in Kaduna).
Badangs Widow Speaks
The widow of Badang, Rose, a Police officer, mother of three and heavily pregnant, managed to grant an interview to the media last Thursday and spoke about her husband.
“The death of my husband was a shock to me, because my husband was not sick, he was healthy. He woke up Tuesday morning and said he was going to work.
He left around 6am, only for me to receive a call around 1:30pm asking me how many sergeants were there in the Police Bomb Disposal Unit. I said they have many sergeants.
And the person said something happened to one of the sergeants and that I should try and confirm. And when I went to the Anti-Bomb Department and asked them what happened, they replied, ‘Madam, nothing happened to your husband, go and relax’. I went back home only to see people coming to the house and telling me that a bomb has killed my husband.”
His Attitude towards work
“My husband was a very nice man. He never had problem with anybody. Even if he had problems with me, he would speak with me and say, my wife forgive me. My husband does not play with his work. At times he would be sleeping and they would call him in the middle of the night and send him to where there was bomb. He would diligently go to the place and do the work successfully and come back.
“Even the one that happened at Rafin-Guza, we were in the house when they called him that there was bomb. He went there and discovered about three to five bombs. He saw the person that was making the bombs lying down on the ground dead. He came back and told me what happened.
They called him to Kafanchan over bomb issue again. The last one was at the Army’s 1 Division; he went and came back successfully. He always concentrated on his work, he always said that this was what brought him to Kaduna. Unfortunately, the last one they called him, he went and never returned. He was an epitome of hard work.
His last words
He woke up that Tuesday morning, prayed and said he was still going back to the Air Force Base because they were still screening there.
“He did not tell me anything. He only dropped money and said he was going to the Air Force Base, Kaduna.
“Then I said ‘okay bye-bye’. Those were his last word. We did not discuss anything .
The widow’s plea
My plea to the government is that they should come to my aid because my husband died on active service. He had, throughout his working career with the Nigeria Police, been sacrificing his life.
“Look at my children; they are still in primary school. My first son is 13 years, the second one is 9 and the last one 4; then the unborn child that I am carrying now.”
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