Category: Feature Written by Kabir Matazu, Damaturu Hits: 806
Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, enjoyed weeks of freedom from attacks by insurgents. But the serenity of this North Western state was again punctured days back when insurgents invaded a school, killing both students and teachers. Sunday Trust recounts the tragedy.
In the last nine months, Damaturu the Yobe State capital enjoyed uninterrupted peace until last Sunday, June 16, 2013.
On the said day, members of staff and students of Government Secondary School (GSS), Damaturu, like other residents of the city, returned home before the normal curfew hours in anticipation of another bright day.
But the mood of night rest soon turned into sorrow, when suddenly, a group of insurgents struck at the school, killing seven students and two teachers.
The killing of the school teenagers at GSS Damaturu was perceived by many in the town as a transfer of anger on the populace, understandably for disassociating themselves from the wave of insurgency.
“What we witnessed on that day was hell. No resident in this neighbourhood slept with his eyes closed. In fact, I felt for every student I saw on the way going to school this morning” a resident lamented.
Also, many residents of a place tagged, “Three bedrooms”, on Gashua road told Sunday Trust that the incident could have been averted if telecommunication networks were alive. He equally blamed the state government for exposing the school to insecurity by failing to erect a perimeter fence around it.
A staff of the school who prefers anonymity told our reporter that it was the third time the secondary school was attacked by the insurgents.
“Each time they came, they would burn the school structure and warn the students, but government did not take any serious measure. Even the perimeter fence was not erected and the burnt hostels have not been renovated. So, saying he was it leaves the entire school very porous and at the mercy of the insurgents”, the source added.
Sunday Trust also reliably gathered that the school principal and other senior staff of the collage had relocated in order not to risk their lives. Till this moment, families of the slain students have continued to receive condolence messages.
Isa Baba-Yaro, a father to one of the murdered students, the 12-year-old, Muhammed Isa Gulani, could not overcome the trauma several days after. The news of his son’s death was broken to him by his children, both students of GSS Damaturu.
Baba-Yaro, who struggled to hold back tears, shared his last moment with his late son;
“The innocent boy saw death coming five days before the unfortunate incident. He sneaked and spent his last weekend at home. Then, he told his mother that he dreamt that his younger sister died in school and was buried. He brought out a picture he snapped with friends and pleaded with her to put it on her dressing mirror. ‘You will be seeing me’,” he said.
Saleh Isa Gulani, an 11-year-old, JSS1 student of the school couldn’t control his tears as he narrated the ugly incident that claimed the life of his brother.
He told Sunday Trust that “It’s a memory that would continue to haunt me till eternity. Six of us were in Yobe hostel enjoying moonlight folktales in my late brother’s bed (Muhammad) when a co-student rushed in and alerted us that he saw some people with guns taking positions in a bush very close to the dormitory. A few minutes later, all entrance doors were closed and sporadic gun shootings began”
He added, “We forced one of the doors open and started running; my brother who was behind, suddenly started shouting, saying he was to lift him up was also shot.”
He said that the attacked forced another student to lead them to the staff quarters, specifically to their Arabic teachers’ house, Malam Alhassan.
He continued, “Baba was a strong and muscular SS3 student. So, he refused to disclose the teacher’s house and started fighting them. They overpowered him, tied him on a tree and cut his throat. The other boy took them to the house, but fortunately for the teacher, he was not around, but they caught his only son, a 300 level student of sociology at Yobe State University”.
“They killed him and burnt their car. In fact, his mother was said to have pleaded with them to kill her instead because he is the only son of the family, but they refused” he said
Hajia Wakilat Toyin Salahu. She initially feigned bravery and strength, but after a short while, her spirit dampened when she learnt of the reporter’s visit;
“I will not say anything on the incident, but.” Mohammed lived an exemplary life. He was always an obedient child me. He always advise me on the importance of being kind to my neighbours and relatives. Whoever loves him and sympathises with me should pray for the reposed of his soul, the deceased’s mother, Hajiya Wakilat Toyin Salahu told Sunday Trust.
A staff of the Ministry for Environment who took part in evacuating the victims’ corpses “The teacher and the two children found in this house were shot severally in their heads,” he said.
Commissioner for Lower Education the state, Allhaji Mohammed Lamin also described the Sunday attack as a very traumatic and pathetic.
He lamented, “it is something we had not expected at this time because there was relative peace in Yobe, particularly the state capital, Damaturu.
The commissioner assured that the state government would ensure that the school is fenced before students.
He urged security agencies to beef up security around schools in the state.