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Anambra: Husband recounts last moment with slain pregnant wife, children

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Life appears empty for Adamawa State-born Jubril Ahmed, after he lost his pregnant wife and four children to the bullets of ‘unknown gunmen’ in Anambra State.

In a teary voice, Ahmed, who worked as a guard in Anambra State said his wife, Harira, was nine months pregnant and was due to give birth the same week she and her four children were killed.

The late 32-year-old Harira, along with her four children, Fatima, 9; Khadijah, 7; Hadiza, 5; and Zaituna, 2, were buried at the Uguaba-Gariki, Amansea area of the state on Wednesday.

They were killed during an attack by gunmen at Isulo, Orumba North Local Government Area of the state on Sunday, May 15, 2022. On the same day of the incident, two other communities were also attacked and about 12 persons were killed.

Ahmed who spoke to our correspondent in Hausa with the help of an interpreter said that on that day he bade his wife and kids bye as they were visiting her elder sister, who resides in a nearby community. He added that the day was his off-day at work and as it’s his practice, he would take on an extra job to augment his resources.

He further said that he returned home from where he went to work to meet his elder brother discussing with his neighbours in a mood which he said made him suspect that something was wrong.

Ahmed said, “That Sunday, I was the one who bathed my kids and dressed them up. We ate together with my wife before they set out to visit her elder sister. When they left, I went to do some extra jobs. It’s my practice to always do extra jobs whenever I am off duty. I went to a building site where I packed sand for the workers. I started the work in the morning and completed it around 6pm and went home.

“When I neared my apartment I saw my neighbours discussing with my brother. I suspected that something was wrong based on the mood I saw them in. I approached them and my brother told me that “those boys have come again.’’ He and others soberly took me to the location where the corpses of my wife and children were. It was like a nightmare. It’s not something I want to talk about. That was how my pregnant wife due to give birth died with my four children. They were returning home after their visit that evening before they were killed.”

The senseless killings drew widespread condemnation from individuals and groups, including Christian and Muslim bodies.  It marked the lowest point in the incessant attacks across communities by the group, masquerading as “unknown gunmen,’’ who have attacked public facilities, police, soldiers and security formations.

Indigenes have not also been spared of the attacks in the state which have lingered in recent times despite the olive branch offered to the assailants by the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who also called on them on several occasions to drop their guns, stop wreaking havoc and embrace dialogue.

Based on this, the Orumba North LGA where the dastardly killing took place is one of the areas Soludo imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Wednesday. The area has come under attacks in the hands of the unknown gunmen in recent times, where both public facilities and individuals suffered loss, despite efforts by the security agencies to tackle the menace.

The state government on Wednesday sent a delegation to condole with Ahmed and gave him an undisclosed amount of money.

Saying that he dearly loved his wife and family, Ahmed, commended the state government for the gesture, noting however that no amount of money could bring back his late wife and children.

Ahmed, who hails from the Ganye Local Government Area of Adamawa State, said he started living in Anambra in 1998, and met his wife in Asaba, Delta State, in 2012, on a day he followed his elder brother to work at a construction site.

The terribly sad guard said he and his wife married in 2013 and lived happily.

He added, “As I talk to you now (Thursday), I have not eaten anything since Sunday. My stomach is filled. I have lost my family. How do I begin life again? No family to return to anytime I go out. Though I may not have money, I was always filled with joy whenever I remembered my lovely wife and children at home. I don’t want to talk too much about this before I start thinking of how to also take my life. What am I living for?

“Since the incident happened, people have been around me and monitoring me. The children who called me ‘daddy, daddy’ were no more. What am I living for?”

Ahmed further said that daily the death of his wife and children appeared like a nightmare to him, hoping to wake up from what he called the terrible dream soon.

Recalling the time he shared with his wife, Ahmed said, “My wife meant everything to me. She was my life and my light.  I still don’t believe that my pregnant wife and children are no more. Before she left for her sister’s place that day, she wore a gown I newly bought for her and complained that it was tight and I told her it was not tight. Thereafter, they left and when they were leaving, my children said ‘daddy bye bye’ and when they were about to leave her sister’s place, she called me again that they were on their way home.  I said okay. I didn’t know that would be my last word with her and my children.

“I wanted to take the corpses to Ganye LGA in Adamawa State for burial because the cemetery the Arewa community uses is filled. The incident happened on Sunday and we recovered their corpses on Tuesday. We located a cemetery at Amansea and buried them there.”

Ahmed, who had returned to Adamawa, said he took the decision because there was nothing to live anymore as life had become lonely for him.

He stated, “I have moved back to Adamawa as there is nothing to look up to anymore. My neighbours at Umunze, friends and boss have been calling me to return but I can’t go back. There is no amount of money they will give me now that can bring back my late wife and children. My late wife was a good hair stylist and had many customers. She was my backbone and content with anything I provided. He never complained of anything. She supported me a lot.  I have left the killers to God. I do not suspect anyone since I didn’t have any problems with anybody. I believe their time has come. That was why the killers succeeded. If not, they would not have died. But I want the security agencies to do the needful. I know that it was not a targeted attack because those bad boys kill anybody they see without knowing who they are.”

Soludo, who condemned the act, described it as barbaric and unacceptable, vowing that the perpetrators would be fished out and dealt with according to law.

He said, “No group or individual is justified to harass, attack or kill any citizen of Nigeria or anyone resident in Nigeria under any guise whatsoever unless in lawful execution of a court sentence,” the governor said.

He also enjoined the youth in every community in the zone to assist the security agencies in providing information that could lead to the arrest of the criminals.

The leader of the Hausa community in Orumba South, Sarki Kabiru Bakari, lamented the incessant attacks by the ‘unknown gunmen’ in the state, saying that they had become security threats to both indigenes and non-indigenes.

Bakari, however, said that security agents had been deployed in the area, adding that the state police commissioner, Echeng Echeng, visited them and assured them of bringing the perpetrators to book and ensuring justice was served on the matter.

Echeng, who visited the community on Tuesday, called on the people to always volunteer information that would lead to the arrest of criminals.

He said the police had identified the hideouts of the hoodlums and would arrest them to ensure adequate security in the state.

Speaking further on the killing, General Secretary, Arewa Community in the state, Mr Mahmud Imam, expressed dissatisfaction that the state police had yet to apprehend perpetrators of the act since the incident happened.

Imam said, “Unknown gunmen’’ are everywhere in the country. We are only asking the government and security agencies to beef up security around the communities. We woke up peacefully, but later that Sunday, we started receiving calls from our members that the so-called  ‘unknown gunmen’ had launched a series of attacks in the community. We are only worried that no arrest has been made till now and we urge the security agencies not to sweep this matter under the carpet.”

The Zonal Chairman, Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, hailed the governor for his efforts at ensuring security in the state, noting that insecurity challenge was not  in Anambra only but a nationwide challenge.

He said, “The police are handicapped too because they have to know the gunmen before going after them. They can’t arrest the ‘unknown.’ You only arrest the person you know. The thing is that all hands must be on the deck to tackle this insecurity before it consumes us. It is not only happening in Anambra, it is a national issue.

“Our advice is for the government to beef up security and take up full responsibility for securing lives and property because this cannot continue. The police so far have not made any arrest regarding Sunday killings because they don’t have the information about the ‘unknown’ gunmen. The innocent are victims of the attacks. Everybody is suffering from it and not only the Hausa community. I have been in this town since 1986 and it has never been this bad. We commend the governor for his kind gesture at reaching out to the husband of the woman that was killed. Though no amount is equivalent to the lives lost, all we are asking is for the government at all levels to take full responsibility of securing lives and property.’’

Contacted on the matter, the state police spokesperson, Tochukwu Ikenga, said investigations were still ongoing on the incident, adding that the command would soon speak with the public.

Ikenga stated, “We are seriously on the situation and work is still ongoing. The state government is supporting us. Some days ago, curfew was declared in the communities where the attacks have been taking place. On our part, we are doing all we can to fish out the perpetrators and soon we will get back to the public.’’

Also, Chief Press Secretary to Soludo, Mr Christian Aburime, said that the government was not resting on its laurels in its promise to apprehend the killers of Harira and her children.

He noted that security agencies were hunting for their killers, stating that soon the killers would be apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.

Aburime said, “The government is not resting on its laurels. The security agencies are hunting for the killers. Soon they will be apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law. Governor Soludo has also laid out massive security measures on his recent broadcast to arrest the declining security in the state. Sooner than later, the results will start manifesting. Moreover, Governor Soludo has sent a delegation to condole with the Hausa community and husband of the murdered woman and children.’’

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