Barely a week after the gruesome murder of over 40 people including some students of the Federal Polytechnic, School of Health Technology and Adamawa State University (ADSU), all of Mubi, Adamawa State in North East Nigeria, PEMBI STEPHEN-DAVID, who was in Mubi, writes that the perpetrators of the massacre are still at large, while the higher institutions of learning and the commercial nerve of the state still seem like a ghost town with the heavy presence of soldiers guarding the town.
From the gates to the administrative blocks, commercial areas to the hostels and lecture halls to the libraries, these three institutions of tertiary learning have shared common boundaries; the Polytechnic in Lokuwa, Adamawa State University (ADSU) and the School of Health Technology, in Shuware). These institutions will no longer be regarded the same way again not because the schools were on break, but because on Monday, October 1, 2012, the students of the institutions came face to face with one of the most terrible days of their lives.
Gunmen had attacked the students and some residents of Wuro Patuji on that fateful day, killing them at will, leaving their victims helpless. The unfortunate incident did not happen in the schools’ hostels but at Wuro Patuji in some of the apartments rented for students by the school authorities due to lack of enough hostel space.
Moving from GSS Mubi’s gate into Wuro Patuji, Tudun Wada, nothing but grief stares you in the face; everyone in that area is still mourning the “senseless killings” as residents like Mr Emmanuel Idirisu call it.
The eerie silence is so strong that one could hang his suit on it. Idirisu says they were attacked between 10 pm and 12 am and ‘‘no one came to our rescue.’’
According to him, ‘‘I was in the house when I heard some people trying to force themselves into my compound. They were saying we should open the gate or they will kill us. They were speaking in Hausa Language. When I heard that, I ran to the toilet. They eventually broke in and killed my son, Lucky, who was a civil servant.’’
‘‘After a while, they burnt down his room and made efforts to break into other parts of my house. I was lucky that they never thought anyone could hide in the toilet. So they did not go there .But I am sad because my son was killed for nothing. He did not commit any crime and he was at home, he did not go out to look for trouble.’’ The 68- year- old man lamented.
‘‘When the attackers came, my son was outside, he ran to this spot,’’ pointing to a blood- soaked area by his gate. ‘‘He had gone out and was on his way back and when he got to this spot, they shot him, and he screamed, ‘Baba’ and that was all. I was actually by the gate helplessly watching how he died.’’ These were the words of Mr Bulus, whose son, Sebastian was also a victim.
‘‘I cannot tell if they were students but all I know is that they had guns and machetes and they came with a car. One of them was asking them to move to the next building as they don’t have enough time. They eventually did not enter my house. That was how the rest of my family and I were saved. They were many and they parked their car at the end of the street.’’ Bulus concluded.
Mallam Salihu says he has never been one to wallow in sadness but on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, when his son Umaru was discovered dead, he had no choice but to be sad. ‘‘ Umaru was a good boy; he was my eye and was hard working, he was not only a student, he was a tailor and was making and selling blocks but today, he is no more. He contributed a lot in making sure that we lack nothing in the family. What have they done to me, what sin have I committed to deserve this? ’’ Salihu asked rhetorically.
According to another resident who pleaded for anonymity, the assailants came into the compound where he was and pulled two students out and killed them. ‘‘I was in the room when they came. They tried to open my room but they could not, so they went to the next room where two students were, forced themselves into the room and brought the students out, killing them in the middle of the compound.
They had AK 47 guns and machetes. I am sure they are not students. The only English they spoke was ‘open the door’ and ‘bring money’ everything else they said was in Hausa. I watched them when they were killing these boys and people around here who saw them also said they were not students. But reports in the media said they were students. As you can see, this is not a student hostel and most residents here are indigenes of this town. I agree that students live here but they are only a handful and this is because of the proximity to the school.’’
Another student of the Polytechnic, Emma, said: ‘‘We were all preparing for our examinations. As a matter of fact; I was going to write a GST exam the following day and suddenly, we heard gun shots. We ran out of the class rooms of GSS but we were unlucky as we ran into the gunmen. They continued shooting, which was how they shot some of our students.’’
‘‘We called on the security men but they refused to come. I had to go to them in the morning before they came. This is very painful.’’ These were the words of Mr Adamu Yunusa, Chairman Vigilante, Mubi South local government area. ‘‘You see, people are saying these men are students but I saw them and I can tell you that they are not. They are people who know how to handle guns very well. I have handled the gun before and I know what I am saying. Until we tell the security men the truth about this thing, there is no way that the situation can be controlled.’’
Speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, a lecturer of the department of Civil Engineering in the Polytechnic who doesn’t want his name in print, said Chimaobi Venitius, an HND 1 student of his department who was killed in the massacre was an ‘A’ student. “He was committed to his studies and was excellent. I supervised him when he was studying for ND.’’
He added that; ‘‘Umaru Salihu ran into them. He had gone to study in GSS, which is a stone throw away from Wuro Patuji, where he lived with his parents. I was told that GSS was not his usual venue of study but he went there on that very day. His corpse was discovered two days later. This is very sad.’’?
While Umaru, Chimaobi, Bulus and about 25 others were not lucky, Dominic, who had escaped death by the whiskers, was. He narrates: ‘‘My friend and I were in the room when they came, they tried to open our door but they couldn’t because, as they were pushing the door at the other end, we were pushing it from inside, but we became tired, so the door opened half way and they shot me in the arm and my friend in the shoulder. We lay down pretending we were dead; when they did not hear any movement, they left.’’
Anslem, Dominic’s friend and another of the lucky ones, confirmed ‘‘when they came into the compound, our room was the first they attacked as we stay in the room just after the gate. After shooting us, they went to Lucky’s room and killed him. They also burnt his room down.’’
A student, who doesn’t want his name in print, said he was in a 22- room apartment building where seven of his fellow students were killed. ‘‘They came to our compound and started breaking into rooms; they broke into some rooms and killed seven students. When I saw them, I quietly climbed the ceiling and hid, that was how I escaped. They did not notice that I was in the ceiling as there was no sign to show that someone was hiding there.’’
‘‘I was in school on that fateful day. We had a presentation with my students as we were preparing for exams the next day.’’ These were the words of a lecturer who gave her name simply as Mrs Adams. ‘‘As I speak to you now, there are different versions of who the attackers are. Some claim they are outsiders, others say they are students, but the truth of the matter is, they had insiders who actually led the massacre.’’
‘‘To say that the killing is connected to the issue of student’s union politics is false. The victims include students of the three higher institutions of learning. What does the SUG election have to do with the RCCG which was set ablaze? The perpetrators even went to Holy Trinity Catholic Church but for God’s intervention, the Church would also have been burnt down as well.’’ Revealed Rev. Maxell Kuri, CAN Secretary, Mubi South.
“Apart from that, the attackers did not attack the hostel of Fed. Poly but they attacked people in the town’’ he added.??
According to the PPRO of Adamawa State, Ibrahim Mohammed; ‘‘I cannot comment on this list and other matters now, we have a way of working and until our investigations are over, we cannot give any detail. We are on top of the situation. Mubi is calm and we are doing our best to maintain that calmness. The media is in a hurry; competing for who will break the news first, and in the course of that, they misinform the public. These are security issues and need accuracy, so I cannot say more than this.’’
Meanwhile, there is tension everywhere, as about 500 armed men including men of the SSS were deployed to the town of Mubi in 40 Hilux Ford vans and two trailers. According to Mallam Haruna Jibril, a trader at the Mubi Motor Park, the sight of the security men sends a war signal to the people of the town; ‘‘we are afraid because there are a lot of security men in town. We cannot do our business freely and people are leaving town. This is really affecting us.”
A commercial bus driver, who gave his name as Salisu and resident of Lokuwa, said, ‘‘we cannot leave the town, this is our home. The army have taken over the town and we cannot move the way we want to.’’
Tumba, a fifty year old man, is a native of Kubi, a village of Michika, a local government in the state, he has lived in Mubi for over twenty- five years but he has decided to leave for his village; ‘‘ so that I can live among my people. When the whole thing is over, I may come back.’’
A fellow who gave his name as Yunusa, a resident of Shuware and sells rubber shoes said he wants to leave Mubi for Jalingo, the Taraba State capital; ‘‘ but the question is, how do I get the supply of my goods as I don’t know Jalingo very well? Neither do I have enough money to start something new. But I have a friend there who left last year and he said I can come to Jalingo.’’??
In recent times, Mubi Motor Park has not been as busy as it was between Tuesday, October 2 and Saturday, October 7, 2012; quite a number of residents were leaving for safety in other places. However, the Emir of Mubi, HRH, Alhaji Isa Ahmadu provided means of transporting students out of Mubi. He called on the residents of Mubi and its environs to remain clam as the situation is under control and advised them to be law abiding. The Emir also sympathised with the victims of the attack.
Meanwhile, governors of Gombe, Taraba and Kaduna states have provided buses for their indigenes. However, most students were stranded in Mubi town as they had no money to go home. LEADERSHIP SUNDAY also learnt that some of the victims were taken to Mubi General Hospital and New Life Clinic, Mubi.
The Deputy Registrar of the Polytechnic, Shuaib Aroke denied that the killings are linked to student killings. He however refused to comment further saying ‘‘the school authority had an emergency meeting and the details will be communicated to the public soon.’’ However the institution has been closed till further notice. The Adamawa State University, which was supposed to resume on Tuesday, October 2, will now resume in a month’s time; ‘‘the school is not in session as all academic programmes have been suspended till next month but non -academic staff are still in school,’’ revealed a non-academic staff of the institution, who pleaded anonymity .
Efforts to get hold of the staff of School of Health Technology proved abortive. However, a student, who gave his name as Kabiru, said the school has been closed down indefinitely. ‘‘We were on session but because of this incident, the school has been closed down till further notice.’’?