How Boko Haram killed my three sons in my presence
From Paul Orude, Bauchi
The pains, trauma and sheer horror she experienced are better imagined. Hajia Amina Mohammed, 62, watched helplessness, as Boko Haram insurgents mercilessly killed three of her sons during an attack on Bama, Borno State last year. Amina, a widow, had planned to escape from Bama before the insurgents struck.
She said life had been quite tough since she lost her husband. But life has become even tougher now, with all her three sons hacked to death in one day.
“They had been supportive,” she said of her sons whom she said almost filled the vacuum created by the death of their father.
Theirs was a close-knit family, she said. The large family was making plans to move
to Bauchi, their state of origin, when Boko Haram insurgents struck on that fateful day, aborting their plans and compounding the family’s misery.
“They suddenly invaded Bama in broad daylight. They started killing people and burning houses at will,” she told Daily Sun, hot tears streaming down her cheeks.
The insurgents, she recalled, showed no mercy, as they invaded the commercial town known for its thriving fish business.
When they eventually reached Amina’s house, the Boko Haram insurgents showed no mercy.
They first seized Amina’s first son, Alhaji, a 45-year-old father of 17 children. The breadwinner pleaded for his life to no avail.
After subjecting the family to psychological torture, they executed their mission without an iota of conscience.
“They shot him right there in my presence and in front of his two wives,” Amina continued to sob, as she narrated her ordeal.
“After killing Alhaji, they pointed the gun at my second son, Hassan, and shot him. He died instantly. Hassan was born the period that former General Murtala (Nigeria’s former Head of State) was assassinated. He had three children,” she said feebly.
As if the sorrow visited on the poor widow was not enough, they seized her third son, Adamu, father of one, and also killed him gruesomely.
Amina said that the Boko Haram members left the women of Bama wailing. The dead bodies of their men littered the streets of the whole town as the insurgents set houses ablaze.
“All I was hearing were sounds of gunshots everywhere and people, crying that their husbands and fathers had been killed,” she said.
Amina said her family quickly departed along with thousands, who were fleeing Bama in the aftermath of the attack and headed for Bauchi.
“My husband built a house in Bauchi, so we all moved here. We were 40, including the children. We all left Bama and came to Bauchi,” she said.
Amina said the journey was so tedious and she almost fainted.
“Even we the women barely escaped, because they were seizing and taking away the young women. It was a terrible experience,” she stated.
“I am yet to understand the whole thing. It is still like a dream. My three children were wasted just like that. What did they do?”
Amina said it had been pretty difficulty to pick up the pieces of her broken life.
“Life has been tough for us since we came to Bauchi,” she said.
“My grandchildren go out to hustle every day and night to see how we can survive,” she said.
When asked what she felt about the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the insurgency and bring peace to the North East, Amina became emotional and broke down.
“May God help Buhari,” she prayed. “May God give him more wisdom to address this problem. May God continue to help his government to achieve peace. We have really suffered, but God brought Buhari to save us all from being killed. Boko Haram shot all my three sons in right in my presence. There was nothing we could do. But I thank God that Buhari has started solving the problem. We are happy that things are going back to normal.”
Hajia Amina said that after killing her three sons, the insurgents set their house ablaze.
“We are lucky that they didn’t carry my sons’ wives. We all managed to escape. We came out with nothing,” she said.
The bereaved mother is now listed among the internally displaced persons from the North East.
“Things are very hard for us as at now. We usually beg to survive, apart from the little that my grandsons can get when they go out to look for something to do,” she lamented.
Many are hoping that the recent visit to Bauchi of the 12-member Assessment Team of the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and World Bank (WB) on areas devastated by insurgency in the North East would succeed in touching the lives of seriously affected victims like Amina.
The team, led by Alhaji Wakil Adamu from the office of the Vice President, was on a courtesy call at Government House, Bauchi in company with officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, the State Emergency Management Agency, UNICEF, among others.
Adamu said that they were in Bauchi to do an on-the-spot assessment, interact with the people, inspect destroyed places, find out what happened, what the government of the affected state is doing and how to compliment government’s efforts.
Adamu disclosed that the mission was a combination of the federal government and the development partners who have seen reason to assess and support the commitment and initiatives of both the federal and the affected states governments to rebuild the areas devastated by Boko Haram.
But the Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, warned that efforts to rebuild the areas devastated by the activities of insurgency in the North East would fail, unless the underlying problems of poverty and ignorance were adequately addressed.
Governor Abubakar said: “Rebuilding infrastructure is important in rebuilding the areas. But addressing the underlying factor of the insurgency is much more important because the North-East is seriously affected by poverty and ignorance.
“If poverty and ignorance are not properly addressed they could provide grounds for the rise of another crazy group if Boko Haram is taken care of. We are running a risk if poverty is not addressed.”
He explained that Bauchi State has played host to an influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) since 2004 following ethno-religious crises in Kaduna, Plateau and some parts of Bauchi, long before the Boko Haram crisis that broke in 2009.
Governor Abubakar explained that the state has been hospitable to millions of displaced persons that have escaped crisis in other parts of the region, saying several communities have sprung up as a result.
He said although most of the displaced persons have resettled in Bauchi, they are psychologically displaced. He urged the team to take their plight into consideration.
Abubakar stressed: “Most importantly, the mission must address the underlying poverty because there is a teeming population of unemployed youths, widows who do not have any means of livelihood.
“Bauchi State Government has been doing its best, but it is obvious that our facilities are overstretched. It has been estimated that the state would have been okay with 12.5 million gallons of water supply per day. But looking at the current demand of 25 million gallons per day, we do not have the ability to provide that. In the education
and health sectors, our facilities have been overstretched because of the influx of IDPs.”
He said the visit by the EU, UN and EWB Assessment Team was a welcome development, saying it would enhance the speedy rehabilitation of the damage in the North East sub region due to the activities of Boko Haram. He assured that his administration would give them the needed support and cooperation.
For now, Amina is reeling in her pains, languishing in abject poverty. She is also praying that efforts to bring normalcy to the troubled areas would not overlook victims like her.
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