A Benue-based Pastor, Peter Kegh has alleged that men of the Nigeria Police Force mocked him and his family when terrorists attacked them around Ugbokolo Otukpo Junction, Benue State, Naija News reports.
Narrating the incident, which happened on June 15, 2022, the cleric told reporters that he was returning home from Abia State after evangelism when he ran into the gun-wielding terrorists.
Pastor Kegh said it was already past 6 PM when the unforgettable incident happened, with his wife, mother-in-law and two other ladies all in the car.
He said: “There is a place called Otukpa Junction. Once you get there, if you are driving, you will notice a long descent of about two or three kilometres. One will just keep descending gradually; after descending that slope, I was supposed to climb another hill-like surface when I noticed that the vehicle ahead of me quickly made a diversion on the right into a town called Ogbokolo. I didn’t think anything was off, so I continued my trip.
“But as I climbed the gradual slope and levelled, I saw, in a stretch, some persons wearing black outfits across the road. When I saw them, at first, I thought they were police officers, so I didn’t really read any meaning into it. I wondered what they were doing there. I was in the car with my wife, mother-in-law and two other ladies. About 100 metres to where the first group was standing, they flagged me to stop. I was at a speed of 100km per hour, so I couldn’t slow down immediately. I almost slowed down but something in me just told me to continue moving.”
“Even the police shouldn’t just stop somebody like that on the highway, I thought to myself. So, I decided to start moving,” the cleric told The PUNCH during an interview.
Kegh narrated that the terrorists upon sighting his vehicle began to shoot, aiming at him as he drove on the highway, Naija News reports.
According to him, when he was confused and as well as afraid of being hit by the bullets, he went under the steering wheel with his hands still on the steer and kept moving the car steadily.
“My wife, my over 80-year-old mother-in-law and two other ladies all began to shout. We screamed, “Jesus! Jesus!” amid the gunshots. As they shouted, I sensed my tyres were going off the road so I raised my head slightly to check and it was true. I was headed for a bush nearby so I swerved back into the road and met another set of three hooded men with AK-47s also shooting at the car. We just kept shouting and screaming the name of Jesus because it seemed like all hope was lost and there was nothing else humanly possible. We were surrounded by these terrorists and we couldn’t even think of turning back because the car was in a mess. Our sure bet was to keep moving, hoping we would escape,” he said.
Pastor Kegh admitted that their escape from the dreadful event was nothing short of divine intervention. He said it was as though there were other voices that joined them in the shout which made it even louder.
Not sure of what to do next, Kegh said he became courageous and decided to keep driving no matter what the terrorists tried to do.
He said: “When we passed the three hooded terrorists, there were four others in front. Those, too, began to shoot, but I didn’t stop. I didn’t also want to look at them so that fear would not grip me. I just knew there was divine intervention. I saw fire explode from the barrels of their guns as they were shooting in front and by the sides. In the midst of all of that, God intervened and we drove past them. We were still hearing the gunshots from behind, one of them, also hooded, used a bike to come after us with speed. He rode close to my side and shook his head and turned back.”
Police Laughed At Us
Pastor Kegh explained further that there was a police checkpoint not too far from the scene of the attack.
He said one of the mobile police officers was standing by the road unarmed while another who also had no gun was in the shade.
“They were laughing at us as we drove past. I kept managing the car a little further until I saw that we had a little settlement where we found some oncoming cars parked,” the cleric claimed.
He said it was at that point that he noticed that some drivers were already aware of the attack from the other side of the road and had to park.
Kegh said he, however, drove further and saw two checkpoints but decided to stop at the third one to check the status of his vehicle as the engine was already stopping.
He said: “So, when I looked at the vehicle, I found out that one of the bullets hit the engine and affected the injector manifold, piercing through it. That was what caused the low compression. So, I got some paper and wrapped it with sellotape to cover the hole. When I started the car, it moved, at least, at a better speed. It was no longer jerking, though it was still vibrating. I was able to move for about 67km before my front tyre by the driver’s seat went flat completely. When I stopped to check, I discovered that another bullet had hit the alloyed rail very close but didn’t get the tyre although the tyre was scratched and had begun to leak. I got a mechanic nearby who topped air into it before we continued.”
The cleric said the incident happened in the late hours of the day, so they couldn’t move further and decided to move to a settlement called Alaede, where they all rested till the next day.
“It was there that I was given a tyre tube which they (villagers) helped me fix and then I continued to my destination,” Kegh said.
Explaining his experience when the terrorists began shooting at him and his family members, Pastor Kegh said at first when he saw people in black on the road, bearing AK-47s, he thought they were law enforcement agents.
“It was on a second look that I noticed that they had red masks on, hiding their identities. When the shooting started, the amazing thing was that I didn’t panic. I was normal. When I notice live ammunition was being shot at us, I knew I couldn’t let go now because I knew how ruthless these terrorists could be. I had just watched the interview of the Methodist prelate who was released from the kidnappers’ den so I had that consciousness in my head. I cannot explain but I had no fear in me. I just knew we were in danger and we knew that only God could intervene for us and that was why we kept calling on the name of Jesus, and he answered his name,” he said.
Damages Done To Pastor Kegh’s Vehicle
When asked about the status of his vehicle, Pastor Kegh said the pictures are there to see.
He said the terrorists aimed tirelessly for the tyres but somehow, the bullets landed on the frames of the tyre.
According to him, he managed the situation, though he admitted the car started jerking after a few minutes.
“When I throttled it, it did not respond. It moved slowly on its own, so I decided to manage it like that till I saw a checkpoint in front,” the cleric said.
Narrating further the situation and the status of his car, Pastor Kegh said it is hard for him to believe that none of them was hurt in the attack despite bullets coming from the front, back and side.
He said: “I remember I saw when one of the terrorists aimed at the glass where my wife was seated, but the bullet hit the door. If you see the pictures, you will see that the bullet rebounded and pierced the door and came out from the other side. The bullet is still inside the car. The mechanic told us that we may have to use fire to be able to get the bullet out. (Laughs) My car is not bulletproof. It is just a regular car.”
When asked if he perceived any reason for the attack on him and his family members, Kegh said: “Honestly, I am not a very important person. I am just a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t say it was a targeted attack on my person. This is because, even after our incident, someone else said they were attacked. One of the persons even lost a loved one. Now, what people do is wait for a military convoy to pass so that all of them would join the convoy to pass. That is the only way to feel safe.”
Naija News learnt that at least 16 clerics have been attacked on the route in 2022 alone.
When asked if he reported the incident to the police, the cleric said: “How do I do that, when I passed a checkpoint that was not far from where I was attacked and I was being laughed at by officers of the law? How do I trust them? It was a mobile police checkpoint, and they were on duty. In fact, they should have heard the sound of the gunshots if they were more attentive. I was even amazed when I saw them standing by. They were not alarmed even as they saw my car pass by. These are people who are supposed to be in charge and have those territories under control, for God’s sake! They were just too casual, and it sent a wrong signal. For me, Nigeria has got to a stage where all we have is just God.”
Pastor Kegh admitted that it was hard for him to recover yet from the dreadful attack.
“This is why I tell everyone that if they have no critical need to travel, they should not put themselves on the highway. I couldn’t even imagine those terrorists with those women (who were in my car) in captivity. What would have happened to my wife, her aged mother, the 12-year-old girl and the other two ladies? It is better not to imagine! The only thing we can do now is to pray for this country because the security situation of this country is becoming unpredictable, very horrifying and nightmarish. As I drive now, I imagine a lot of things. It has not been the same with me,” he said.