The story of four family members and two of their houseguests who were brutally hacked to death by yet-to-be identified people shocked many. Daily Trust visited the family home, where the family’s patriarch and neighbours spoke about the tragedy.
It was a black Sunday for the residents of Bayan Kara Ta Gabas in Birnin Kebbi, the capital city of Kebbi State, when unknown assailants slaughtered a housewife, three of her children and two brides-to-be, at midnight.
The housewife, Amina and her nine-year-old son Jibril, three-year-old twins Hassan and Hussaina, were said to have been hacked to death with machetes. Two female houseguests were also killed, having stayed over as they usually did to keep their neighbour company whenever late Amina’s husband, Alhaji Dan Dare (Mai-Bulawus), travels on business.
Mai-Bulawus, a small-scale businessman, sells ladies’ clothes at the Kebbi Central Market, earning him the name Mai-Bulawus, roughly meaning ‘one who sells blouses’. He buys his wares from Onitsha, and was there when the violent attack occurred.
In the morning, Daily Trust learnt, neighbours decided to break into the house when they didn’t notice the usual movement of the children who were supposed to have come out to prepare for school. It was after getting into the house that they found their lifeless bodies, with gashes and cuts all over. The three-month-old baby who was spared by the killers was crying on the bed. It is believed that the oldest child of the family, who was away at his grandmothers’, would also have been killed.
When Daily Trust visited the home of Mai-Bulawus, sympathisers were still trooping to condole with the visibly-shaken man. At the the house, there was heavy presence of police, with a patrol van stationed nearby.
Mai-Bulawus, distraught, strained to recount his last contact with his wife and children. “Whenever I am travelling, I make sure that I provide them with all they need so they wouldn’t lack anything and that’s what I did,” he narrated, recalling that late Amina and the twins had followed him to the gate to bid him farewell, “Not knowing that they were saying their final goodbyes.”
Mai-Bulawus said he received his wife’s call first in Sokoto, when he was boarding a luxury bus to Onitsha, and the last one was in Abuja. “On getting to Onitsha in the morning, I called one electrician whom I had contracted to carry out some repairs at home to inquire if he had done it, but he told me he wasn’t able yet. But he asked me to call Dangara, a relative of mine. “When I called Dangara, he rejected the call and later switched off his phone. I then decided to call another member of my family, Zaki, who told me something was wrong with my family, but pleaded with me to switch off my phones because people would be disturbing me with calls. Reluctantly, I obliged.”
Mai-Bulawus would later on learn all his relatives and friends were warned against breaking the news to him until he returned from his trip. As soon as he came back from Onitsha on Tuesday, February 23, his brother broke the gut-wrenching news to him, telling him how his wife, three children and two of his neighbour’s daughters were murdered in cold blood.“I can’t even describe how I felt, but as a Muslim I succumbed to the will of God. I am now left with a 3-month-old baby and my eldest son. All I can do is pray to Allah to grant them eternal peace,” he told Daily Trust.
Mai-Bulawus described late Amina as obedient, God-fearing and very supportive.
Though he doesn’t suspect anyone, as he claimed not to have any enemy because he lives in peace with all his neighbours and business partners, Mai-Bulawus said: “One cannot tell for sure.” He also commended the police for their work on the investigation, expressing optimism that the killers will be brought to book, and soon.
The neighbour, Alhaji Rabi’u Maitunka, whose two daughters, Aishat (18) and Nafisa (14), were also murdered, told Daily Trust that arrangements for the duo’s marriage had commenced, as they both had suitors. He said he was also on a business trip when the incident happened, and he could not be reached because there was no telephone service in the area, a village in Niger State.
Maitunka said it was after he came back to Kaboji village that his brother called to ask when he was coming back. “I told him I was already on my way and he quickly hung up. A few minutes later, I received another call from my junior wife who asked me the same question before terminating the call. I became suspicious because I could tell from her voice that all was not well. So, I called her back and from the background I heard a voice say ‘just tell him’ and she broke the saddest news ever to me,” he said.
Maitunka said his daughters’ good manners were what endeared them to Alhaji’s late wife and as such they made his house their second home. He said Aishat was about completing her secondary school and both of them had suitors. They had wanted their marriage to take place before the fasting period. He described them as nice and well-behaved, praying to Allah to grant them eternal rest.
Mustapha Abdullahi, the teacher of the Islamic school that 3-year-old Hassan and Hussaina attended before their murder, recalled his last encounter with his pupils, while bringing them home as he always did after school hours. “Hassan asked me to buy him a motorcycle while Hussaina requested for a teddy bear and I jokingly told them ‘no problem’ before I bade them goodnight, not knowing that would be our last meeting.” He said the deaths shocked him, adding that they were such brilliant and adorable children.
The people of the area were said to have taken security issues with laxity, according to the Village Head of Bayan Kara Ta Gabas, Malam Abubakar Wurogaure. He said he had severally told his people about the need to be security-conscious and employ night watchmen, but his advice had been ignored. “I believe the issue of security is no longer the business of security agencies alone but a collective concern and that was the reason why I always warned my people about the need to come together and find ways of enhancing the security of the area but nobody was willing to support the idea,” he said.
Wurogaure said the community is witnessing this kind of incident for the first time. “I was teaching my students when somebody came and informed me that a housewife had been killed in their area. So, I discharged my students and rushed to the scene. On getting there, we discovered it was not only the housewife that was killed, but a number of others. I asked everybody to stay away from the crime scene until the arrival of the police. I informed my district head about the development, who met me there with some policemen.”
Wurogaure also hoped fervently that such a violent, tragic incident never occurs again. The Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area, he said, had summoned and sensitized them on the need to take issues of security very seriously. “He pledged to give us all the necessary support towards ensuring the safety of the area.”
Governor Atiku Bagudu and the Kebbi State Commissioner of Police Yakubu Jibril were among the people who attended the funeral prayers for the deceased.
Bagudu, while condoling with the families of the victims, described the killing as barbaric and a serious offence whose perpetrators must be punished. He was confident that the police would track down the killers, and prayed Allah to grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.
On his part, the Commissioner of Police said the killing was an act of assassination, assuring that his men would identify the killers and bring them to justice.
Spokesman of the Command, ASP Nafi’u Abubakar, said investigation has commenced on the matter, but no arrest has been made yet.
A sympathizer asked: “How can one kill innocent people, including children and expect to have a peaceful life?” He added: “Allah will not make that possible for them. They may hide but they cannot escape justice here on earth or in the hereafter.”
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