At the airport Philipps had set up his command post in the control tower. An air traffic controller still sat at his desk perspiring but shepherding civilian aircraft in and out of Borno’s airspace.
” You take Kona’s wife and daughter. Take them to the radio station. Alexander is there. You get them on the radio – they have to broadcast that Kona is dead. They saw him shot dead by Boronese men. Put a gun to their heads if necessary. Remember if they play ball they are not to be harmed in any way. Keep repeating that Kona is dead – get them to confirm it 100 times. They saw his body. He was shot dead by Bornoese – that is very important. Then read the provisional government statement – got that?”
”Yes, sir. Understood” said Blakelock.
”Right, Blakelock – take Messing, Akintunde and Simms with you. You then stay there to guard the radio station. We need to keep control there. Got that.”
”Yes, sir Messing, Akintunde and Simms with me.”
”Right. Now move.”
”Sir” said Blakelock saluting smartly. He then turned on his heel and hurried out.
Philipps then got on the his radio. ”Commander to hangar. Commander to hangar – do you read me? Over”
”Yes, this is hangar receiving” said a Pakistani voice. ”Affirmative. Hanger read you. Over” Gul carried on.
”Can you fly the planes and helicopters? Is all well. Over”
”Affirmative. We checked out the planes and choppers. All are air worthy. Yes, we know how to fly them. No problem. Over.”
”Well have a man in a plane cockpit and a man in a chopper – ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
”Sir, I already have men in chopper and planes. Ready to take off any moment..”
”Ok. Great. Do not take off until I say so – not unless we come under attack. If we come under attack take off immediately without waiting for orders. If we are attacked go and bomb the attackers. Over”
”Yes, sir. Understood. Over.”
”Do we have any civilian prisoners in the hangar? Over”
”Yes, sir. We have a civilian cook. He is an old man. over”
”Excellent. You said there was a civilian car at the hangar.over ”
”Yes, sir . It is the cook;s car. over ”
”Ok. You have Kona’s body in the APC. Kona has been dead an hour and he is going to start to stink in this heat. Put Kona’s corpse in the boot of the cook’s car. You tell the cook to drive straight to the general hospital. He must make the hospital put Kona in the morgue. Take the cook’s ID card. Tell him if the hospital does not put the body in the morgue we will track him down and shoot him. Understood? over”
”Understood. I take the ID card off the cook. Put Kona’s body in boot of cook’s car. Tell cook he must drive straight to general hospital and tell the hospital to put Kona in the morgue. If they do not we will find the cook and kill him. We know who is and where he live because we got his ID card.”
”You got it correct. Over and out.”
”Over and out.”
Ten minutes later an APC slowly drove up to the radio station. They were in radio contact with the radio station as they approached – just so there was no misunderstanding. Otherwise the coupsters might have mistaken the approaching APC as men loyal to Kona’s regime and opened fire.
Blakelock got out. Mrs Kona and her daughter Winifred were still in their nighties. They were quietly weeping and their hands were handcuffed behind their backs.
Blakelock and Akintunde held a woman each by the arm and rapidly walked them up the stairs. The APC was driven by Simms. Simms then turned the APC turned around and parked near the other one – facing the now destroyed gate a few hundred metres away.
Alexander greeted them just inside the lobby.
”Good to see ye boys”
”Good to be here. Right let’s get this show going” said Blakelock in his New Zealand accent.
”We are no going to hurt you dolls” said Alexander to the women. ”We just need youse to say something on the radio. We speak on the radio for a few hours and we let you go. I know it has been an awful night for you. Your husband and your dad has been killed. Just say that and we let you go. We do not hurt women. Not unless you refuse to talk.” he added darkly
The women were ushered up the stairs. It was difficult for them to pick their way in the dark without arms to balance.
Finally they were seated in the broadcast room.
”Now. Here is what you do. You say that you say Kona shot dead. You saw him dead. He is definitely dead. You got that?”
”Yes, I understand” said Mrs Kona very distressed.
”You Winifred – you say you say your dad dead.” added Alexander.
”Ok” she squeaked in fear ” but I did not see him. I did not see him dead.”
”Does not matter. He is dead. Trust me. You have to say you saw him dead. Say that tyou saw him with your own eyes and he is definitely dead. I have seen his body. Pity we did not show you but we did no want to traumatise youse. You tell the people you saw his dead body. No messing about”
”Ok, ok” I will she nodded.
The women were sat down at a desk in the broadcast room.
Alexander then spoke”Arright dolls – I got the equipment ready. I am a cavalryman really but I did a year in the Royal Corps o Signals so I know my way aroond radios. That’s by the by.” He arranged microphones just in front of them. The women looked at little calmer. They have believed the radio broadcast story was a ruse to get them to move without protest. They feared they were going to be shot. The sight of microphones made them relax.
Akintunde took a folded piece of paper out of a pocket in his webbing. He unfolded the typewritten document and laid it down in front of him. He took the AK 47 off his shoulder and laid it down on the table. The muzzle pointed at Winnifred. She stiffened and fear passed over her face.
”Oh sorry Winnifred. Ok I put it on this empty chair beside me” said Akintunde moving his weapon. The young woman looked relieved.
”Noo” said Alexander ”let’s have a dry run before I record it. Mrs Kona what you gonna say?”
”I saw my husband shot dead” she said wincing at the word dead.
”Who are you sorry?” asked Alexander.
”Ok, I am Mrs Kona the First Lady of Borno.”
”Ah just Mrs Kona will do” said Akintunde
”All right. I am Mrs Kona. I saw my husband President Cornelius Kona shot … dead.” She whispered the word ‘dead’ and began to cry silently.
”Spit it out woman. Dead. DEAD!” said Akintunde.
”Ok. I saw him shot dead” she said louder.
”Say it again and again” said AKintunde.
”I saw him shot dead. I saw him shot dead. Shot dead. He is dead. ”
”keep saying who. Say the name. Say it so many different ways” said AKintunde.
”Ok. I saw my husband shot dead. President Kona is dead. I saw Cornelius Kona shot dead. Cornelius is dead.”
”How many bullets hit him?”
”I do not know.’
”Say it was 10.”
”Ok he was hit by 10 bullets.”
”You got to say that you are absolutely certain he is dead. You handled his body yourself. No breathing , no pulse. He bled very heavily. You are 100% sure it was him and that he is totally dead. Got it?”
”Ok but who killed him?” she asked almost innocently.
”Never you mind. We will handle that.” Akintunde snapped. He turned his face towards Winnifred.
”All right now Winnifred. Your turn.What you going to say.”
”My dad is dead. ”
”Come on, develop that” he waved his hand in a forward rolling motion like a wheel.
”My daddy was killed. He was shot dead an hour ago. He is dead. We are sure of that.”
”More. Details. You got to say that you saw him. You examined his body. 10 bullets you are completely sure it was him and that he is totally dead.”
”Ok. I saw my dad shot dead. 10 bullets struck him and I know he is dead. I touched his body myself and I know it is him. He is dead. I am convinced of that.”
”Well done now say his name when you say this. Over and over. Ram home the point. ” said Akintunde.
Winnifred continued, ”I saw my father Cornelius Kona shot dead. He was hit by 10 bullets. I cradled his body myself. President Kona is dead. I know it is him. He is dead. I am sure of it.”
”All right.” Akintunde was very satisfied.
”Ready to start recording” said Alexander. He pressed the ‘record’ button on the mic in front of Mrs Kona and gave her a nod.
” I am Mrs Kona. I saw my husband Cornelius Kona shot dead an hour ago. President Kona was hit by 10 bullets. I tried to save him but he was stone dead. He bled very heavily. I know it is him. I am certain that President Kona is dead.”
Alexander then switched off record.
”Very well done doll. You keep that up and you will soon be free. The noo your turn” he looked at Winnifred. Alexander then pressed record on her mic
She spoke ” I am Winnfried Kona. I saw my father President Kona shot dead an hour ago. He was shot 10 times. He is dead. I am sure of that. I touched his body myself There was no heartbeat and no breathing. ”
Alexander then switched it off.
”I am happy wi you. Do you ken hen?”
Akintunde spoke. ”Now I will read the statement as soon as you switch it on”
Alexander then switched on the mic in front of Akintunde. Akintunde then declaimed
”People of Borno. This is the Provisional Government of Borno speaking. Your hour of liberation has arrived. The national revolution has succeeded. The tyrant Cornelius Kona was overthrown by patriotic soldiers of Borno. He was tried by court martial and executed by firing squad this morning. Cornelius Kona is dead. His wife and children are in custody. The Kona regime is no more. You are free. The Provisional Government claims the loyalty of all citizens of Borno. Men and women – you are free. All political prisoners will be set free. All people serving gaol sentences for misdemeanours will be set free if they swear allegiance to the new government. Sani has been proclaimed provisional president by universal popular will. All political parties are now legalised. We shall proceed to free and fair elections in 90 days. Our only aim is the emancipation of the people of Borno. We will maintain neutrality in the Cold War. Flights from the airport have been suspended. Most of the army, air force and police have already come over to us. The patriotic revolutionary forces are hundreds strong, we have many APCs, planes, helicopters and ships. All soldiers and police officers may come to the airport unarmed and on foot one by one to swear allegiance to the new government. They will then be paid a gratuity of $100 in cash. Their names will be announced on the radio.”
Akintunde ended the recording.
”How did that sound?” he asked Alexander.
The recordings were then played on a loop for hours.
Akintunde occasionally interviewed the women on air. They constantly reaffirmed that Kona was dead and they saw him shot dead by Bornoese soldiers.
Alexander later asked Akintunde ” Why are the army not responding? Why are they not intervening and trying to stop us?”
”Too scared to move. Kona refused to let them move at night. He feared that might be how they would launch a coup.”
”So his order to try and stop a coup actually helped a coup?”
”Ironic, isn’t it?” Akintunde chortled.