Hajiya and her husband, who is originally from Fatika in Giwa Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, did not plan to save lives. But this was exactly what happened when some villages in the area were attacked by terrorists, locally known as bandits, on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
Braving the odds
The villages, which suffered a three-day invasion by terrorists, from Thursday to Saturday, include Dillalai, Fatika, Barebari, Kaya, Durumi, and Tashan Labo, among others.
“My husband’s father is among the elders of Fatika village, so we got a call that Friday morning…the news was terrifying, I had to sit down,” Hajiya told HumAngle. “That bandits came with over 30 bikes carrying three people each with guns. People were attacked in their villages, burning their houses, motorcycles, killing them and abducting an unspecified number of people.” And this went on for three days.
To be on the safe side, Hajiya and her husband confirmed from Zaria if it was wise to slip into Fatika. Her mother and siblings were there and it was a chance she was willing to take alone because her husband could not, due to his age.
Although brave and ready to face the worst, Hajiya was still unprepared for the sight that hit her. This was not the hometown she knew. Smoke still bellowed from burning houses, blood soaked the earth, and displaced children roamed the streets. Where were their parents? Dead or alive? It was chaos everywhere. Worse, she quickly confirmed her fears – many adults had fled, leaving the poor children stranded, without shelter.
Without hesitation, the couple got into action. They helped the injured victims, including women and children. Corpses were gathered again and again until there was nowhere else to put them.
Hajiya said: “My husband has newly built shops and I inherited a few houses from my late mother. We accommodated the displaced victims there, until there was nowhere else to put them. We took some to the Giwa secondary school and mosques nearby. We then took the injured to Zapawa hospital, some to Namadi hospital while some we took to Zaria Teaching hospital.”
Then, good news. They got help. Youths from the neighbouring villages joined the rescue team on the third day, entering the attacked villages to retrieve bodies and not caring if they were going to get killed in the process.
“They came into our village and burnt our homes, foodstuffs, killed seven of my children and made away with our cows,” Malam Buhari Amadu, 60, told HumAngle.
He continued: “I was in the market at about some minutes past 6 p.m. when we saw people on bikes with guns shooting and killing five people. They kept on riding and shooting. We all started running and left our goods, I’m currently displaced.”
It’s a similar experience for Rahinatu Kabiru, 25. They heard gunshots from afar. It was coming from Dillalai… “We didn’t know we were next. At about 5 p.m. our boys were playing football on the field when bandits showed up on bikes and started shooting at them. They killed my uncles and so many of our young boys. They don’t kill women but hit them with the edge of their guns…they didn’t let us take or cover the bodies of our loved ones. We walked and ran till we reached Giwa, nobody came to our rescue.”
Aisha Dayyabu from Barebari recalled how her husband was killed. Then her brother, uncle, and neighbour were abducted.
The stories still do not end there. Aisha Abdulrahaman, 40, said: “My newly wedded son, Muhammad Shamsu, was killed, my husband and his brother too. They slapped me countless times, collected our phones, took away our cattles and all the valuable things we had. They then set our home, cars and motorcycles ablaze. We are here in Giwa secondary school.”
Someone like Hajiya Hadiza, 35, just wants to reunite with her children. Mother of seven children, she lost two boys who were killed and then her girls are missing.
“I don’t know if they were abducted or killed. Some of them were not home when it started and no one has information of their whereabouts,” she said.
Hadiza’s husband was killed alongside his father and mother. She feels everything has been taken away from them and nothing is left.
“Some men we fled with went back to check for survivors and never returned.
“They [terrorists] ran over my children with their bikes, killing three of them.”
Sha’awa Halidu, 35, from Dillalai will never forget how they were chased on motorcycles. They beat them and collected their belongings. She had five children, and two of them, aged two and three, were killed when the terrorists rode over them.
“They didn’t allow me to take or cover their bodies,” she added.
Plea for govt’s help
Hajiya who, as at the time this report was filed, helped many displaced victims find shelter recounted how, on Wednesday, March 30, sent people to the hospital. “I and the help of able-bodied people in Giwa hosted those that we can, and sent the injured to the hospital. As at this moment, all we want is assistance with food and water. They are hungry and thirsty. The Kaduna State government has not sent help or assistance. We are pleading with the government to come to our aid.”
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