As with the previous team, this team arranged themselves into two groups; ‘each having one dog. Rather than form two rows, the group formed one single line each, with the dog and its handler in front while the inspector manned the rear. Unlike the last team, this team said no prayers before the invasion began. Pairing with the dog handler was the man holding the light. The arrangements in the two groups were the same.
As soon as they took the first few steps into the wings of the tunnel, fear gripped everyone. The fear was so marked in inspector Abiko, who was in command of the team invading the eastern wing that he soon began to tremble. His legs appeared too heavy for him to carry any more. Soon he started lagging behind. While others were about one meter away from each other, Mr. Abiko was walking about 6-7 meters away from the man in front of him. The men were not as silent as the previous team. They whispered among themselves as they marched with their fingers resting on the triggers of their rifles. As they were moving, one of them cracked a joke and they all laughed. Mr. Abiko who thought they were laughing at him increased his steps and stood only about 3 meters away from the rear man.
At the top, the officers waited eagerly for news from the tunnel. The inspectors leading the team were each equipped with communication machines with which they were expected to talk to the commissioner should they see any thing.
It was now 6pm. The time given them to return, whether or not they made any encounters. No one showed up and no message was received from the inspectors. There was tension. Still they waited patiently. It was 7pm and no one came up. The commissioner became very frightened and could wait no longer. He ordered that they should retire to the camp before it became too dark.
By 7.30pm they left for the camp with no one coming out of the tunnel, and no message received. At the camp, the two remaining junior officers were asked to remain till morning and come back to report if any of the men came out, while the commissioner and the superintendents left for Pranil that night.
Early the next morning, the commissioner went to the I.G’s residence to report his experience to him. When he arrived, Mr. Fill was still in bed. He continued hammering at the or with his fist, ignoring the doorbell, until Mr Fill woke up. He opened the door and stood with mouth agape as he beheld Mr. Dag.
“What happened, Mr. Dag? Anything wrong?” he asked in quick succession with a face disfigured with apprehension and curiosity. Mr. Dag stared at him for a while and slowly parting his lips said; “We have lost all those boys.”
“What do you mean? I mean, what really are you talking about?” shouted the Inspector General in disbelief. The two men went into the sitting room, and Mr. Dag began;
Those boys, twenty in number, including the two inspectors we asked to follow them have not yet come out despite the fact that we gave them specific instructions not to stay beyond 6pm. We were there up tiIl7.30pm. And I became too afraid to remain any longer.
Two of our men are still staying behind, to see if they would show up at night, but I am afraid. I am really afraid, that those boys may not be alive any more.
Mr. Fill, sitting with his elbows resting on his knees and head buried deep between the knees stared at the carpet, deep in thought. After a short silence, Mr. Dag, rose and asked leave of the LG. Without raising his head, the LG. bade him farewell as Mr. Dag left the house.
9am that morning saw Mr. Dag discussing the issue with the Inspector General in the latter’s office when an officer came in to inform the commissioner that Inspector Ugwu was looking for him. (Inspector Ugwu was one of the two officers who were asked to sleep a the camp at Aniche to see if the boys would come out of the tunnel at night).
On getting this message Mr. Dag rose from his seat with such agility that the LG. was startled, He hurried out of the office and dashed down to his own office.
Mr. Ugwu was still waiting there. As soon as he saw him Mr. Dag held him by the hand and led him inside his office and frightfully asked. “Any news?”
“No Sir!” They have still not returned.
And no message was ever received?” He asked again.
None Sir!” he answered.
“Mr. Dag took Mr. Ugwu to the I.G. and asked him to report his message. He did.
That morning, the gloom on people’s faces was indescribable as the sad story spread like wild fire. Many were grumbling that the Inspector General was simply sacrificing innocent boys by sending them to their death in that tunnel. Many held the view that the tunnel should be left alone The Inspector General had been so afraid to report the happening to the President, since he would be sending a retrogress report instead of a progress report which the head of state would be expecting to receive. Unfortunately, the news of the entire happenings reached the Presidency from other sources and he sent for the LG. When Mr. Fill arrived, the president who could not control his anger ordered the Inspector General to forward within the next 48 hours a written report of what he had done so far and why people are deserting the police force. Within the stipulated dead-line, the Inspector General of police brought a written report of all the police had done so far, including plans he had mapped out on how to carry out a third invasion of the tunnel which he assured would yield results that would give some information about the tunnel. The details of the I.G.’s next invasion plan, which he is so confident about, will be seen in the next chapter.
INVASION No. 3
Having been given only five days to report back the failure or success of his proposed plan, the Inspector General at once ordered that a rally of all the policemen in the barracks at the capital be summoned. This was done with dispatch, and that same afternoon everyone assembled in the parade field. The assembly further revealed that more men had continued to desert again in spite of all previously done to attract and dissuade them.
After all had taken their positions in the assembly, the I.G. arrived and began to address them. thus:
“Gentlemen of the force, As I stand here this afternoon to address you, my heart is filled with great love, admiration and regard for all of you who have gathered here. As I look at you, I see with great joy and pride, officers and men who are the living heroes of our country. You have remained steadfast and obedient to your calling. I am here to assure you that very big reward awaits all of you here, who have remained ,while others who have sworn to defend and protect the citizens of this country, have deserted.
The head of state and indeed every citizen of this country is very much worried and disturbed that the police force appears to be incapable of allaying the fears of the people about the creature said to be living in the tunnel. I know that this is not true. We are very capable.
Are we not?”
“We are!” roared the response. “Yes”, he continued, “We are very capable of handling the situation. Although a few mistakes were made during the previous expedition, which cost us some of our men, yet these expeditions have not been entirely unsuccessful. Out of the experiences gathered from them, we have been able to evolve a master plan with which we must conquer this tunnel without fail.
I want to assure you that no more souls will be lost from now on. I too will be directly involved in the exercise. We shall all go to Aniche with our dogs. When we get there, you will see what plans we have made. Nobody will be lost again. If we are going to lose .anything it will be our dogs. No person will again risk his life in this tunnel. The details of this master plan will be explained at Aniche when we all get there. So by 7am. tomorrow, we shall all assemble here in readiness for the journey.
There will be enough vehicles to take all of us. We must prove to the president and to the entire country that they have got a police force to rely on. We shall all go to Aniche to show our total commitment to this expedition”.
The next morning everyone in the force gathered at the appointed assembly place. A roll call was taken, and at the end of it, the team left for Aniche.
On arrival, two men and a dog were picked for the operation. Having chosen the men; the I.G. went ahead to instruct them on how to operate.. Every other person was given the opportunity to be present and listen to the instructions. With a loud voice, the I.G. began, “When you get down to the bottom of the entry hole, you just stay there. Do not move a step out of this place so that we can be seeing you from the top.” Walking up to the dog, and pointing at it, he continued. “This dog, one of our best dogs left, is the one you are going with.
It will be doing the exploration alone. we have fixed this small search -light on the dog’s neck,” pointing at the light. “As soon as you get down, switch on the light, and release the dog, while you hold the rope.
Now you see this rope tied at the dog’s collar, it is more than 2,000 meters long. You are to hold the bundle in your hands, and unwind it slowly as the dog moves. Pull on the rope from time to time to ensure that it is still attached to the dog’s neck. With the rope, you will be able to tell if the dog is still alive. Whenever you notice from the movement of the rope or from the force on it, that the dog is struggling or running, pull on the rope fast and see if you can attract whatever is attacking the dog till it comes to the point where you can see it and deal with it. If the dog is overcome and killed we will know when you pull the rope back. If this should happen, we shall be able to tell from the nature of the injuries inflicted on the dog. This time, you will face only one wing of the tunnel and ignore the other one for the time being.”
Having ended his instructions, the men then began preparations to move into the tunnel to try this new strategy.
Suddenly a message came from the President ordering the Inspector General of Police to stop any further action with regards to the tunnel exploration.