Not many victims have had the opportunity to recount the ugly experience during the communal crisis that rocked Kaduna weeks ago. Several lives, over a 100, were lost to the crisis that lasted about a week.
But, for Temitope Mustapha, it is a mixed feeling of trauma and relief after surviving the most scary moment of her life.
Temitope, a journalist with VON in Kaduna, was on October 21 travelling to Kano through Kaduna for a two day Media Dialogue on Equity for the Girl Child Education, oblivion of the danger that laid ahead of her journey.
Her quest to advocate for education of the girl child almost led to her death on what she has described as a “bloody” Sunday.
“I never thought [the day] would end up bloody for me,” she says in a viral Facebook post.
She had been the only female in a public bus, wearing only a multi-coloured buttoned shirt with a head tie. She was sleepy through the journey, she says, as she had spent previous nights writing stories.
“Two times this gentleman who was in the same car with me woke me up and said ‘Madam stay awake’”, Temitope recounts.
The concerned passenger eventually succeeded in getting her awake.
“Then I opened my sleepy eyes very wide and clearly I saw Military officers seated on their vehicles,” she says.
“Suddenly, a fellow passenger like me said ‘Madam we have been making calls to know the safest road’ and I said, you mean this road is safe for us all? They all answered ‘Yes.’”
Temitope would have hoped her co-passengers were right, as the next series of events were the most horrifying anyone would ever experience.
“Suddenly at Kaduna By-Pass, I saw a trailer blocking the road and traffic was building up and the driver of the car I boarded beckoned on one of the youths holding a fibre of an iron. He responded in Hausa language, and another passenger translated this to me that he wanted to find another route out of By-Pass.
“Suddenly, a number of the young men sighted me in the car and my driver started pleading with them, telling them “Da Allah ki ya kuri,” she says.
That was the moment she realised she was in danger, as the irate youths numbering about fifteen began hitting the car with different objects.
Temitope, now recovering from her life-threatening injuries, narrates her ordeal from here:
“The young men best described as miscreants were more than fifteen, they started hitting the side of the car I was, Actually my head was blank, I couldn’t say one word of prayer, I didn’t panic and I was ready to run the race of my life.
“Immediately, my fellow passengers took to their heels from the front door and the left door side. Then I summoned courage, opened the right side door which was already confronted by men holding all manner of irons and stones. My turban (headtie) fell off, and I started running towards an uncompleted building. Immediately, I realised I could be finished in the building, with heavy stones landing on my back and long metallic objects hitting my body from people running after me, I turned and thought of crossing the gutters on Kaduna by-pass.
“O Yes, I fell down with the heaviness and marathon of stones landing on my body, then I watched myself being lynched with all manners of iron rods, sticks and I was being stoned at the same time.
“Nobody dared to stop these youths from stoning me, neither was I rescued from their hands.
“I actually saw one of them videoing what they were doing to me and I sincerely was running within me to catch up with breathe. Death is painful.
“I suddenly didn’t not feel the hitting of the irons on my body again and the stones were no longer making sounds to me. I was hearing ‘Jesus is Lord’ inside my head clearly as if with a mega phone. I was seeing my mother, my son and my daughter’s faces all at the same time and somehow, I kept hearing in my head that all they [the assailants] were doing were not up to labour pains.
“I crawled inside the gutters, of course I was already almost inside the gutters at by-pass. I felt peace in my body and I found solace inside the gutters. I saw these youths gathered on the other side, I saw a blurry view of a crowd of men watching me , And I saw clearly one of them carrying a stone with his two hands right over me, I raised up one hand pleading to him& making gestures appealing. That was the last I saw.”
Temitope then became lifeless and unconscious while inside the gutter, until she woke up at Amrullah hospital, along Kaduna By-Pass. She was able to tell doctors about her occupation and her mission to Kano. She was also able to provide her younger sister, as well as her children’s father’s numbers.
“About six drips, including flagyl and all manners were set into my system. I was revived, head suturing were done. The young Muslim doctor was crying while suturing my head, hospital attendants were cleaning stretcher stained with my blood. Everybody was put on guard,” she says.
“The miscreants traced me to the hospital and demanded that the lady brought in should be released by the hospital to be killed. This Muslim hospital saved me, hid me away from them and I realised I was kept in a ward locked with a nurse who was given instructions not to open the ward to anyone she possibly didn’t know the voice. Only the Hospital Manager, the doctor on duty and two nurses were given access to where I was.”
It wasn’t until the second day at the hospital that she began asking questions about how she managed to survive the attack.
“I asked the only face I saw when I woke up from the “deep sleep”, I said ‘please who brought me’? He looked at me with tear-filled his eyes and said, ‘a JTF Member brought you life-less’. He said ‘we rejected you because you were not breathing and demanded he should not drop your body with us’.
“The Amrullah Hospital Manager said, ‘when we refused to take you, the JTF man dropped you on our stretcher and said you could come back that we should try’.
“Amrullah Hospital treated me and stabilised me,” she says.
Her family members whom she said “were dead alive” due to worry, were finally able to reach her.
Temitope says she was taken in by a VOA correspondent in Kaduna, Hajia Asmau.
“She was the family I saw, she was the colleague on ground, she wept uncontrollably and was still the one consoling herself. I watched Asmau wiped tears several times. Above all this lady risked her life to identify with me in the hospital and practically carried a wheeled chair colleague to her house to ensure my safety.
“Baba, as we all call him, Hajia Asmau’s husband, was there to carry me from the vehicle to hospital stretcher. He was there all through, right beside his wife fixing my neck most times carrying me on wheel chair. Hajia Asmau’s children all cried uncontrollably and kept asking their mother, ‘mummy what did she do to them’. Her family owned me straight up.”
She says the military, state Commissioner for Health, and UNICEF all played vital roles in her recovery.
“I sincerely hail Mr Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF Head Communication Officer, who I learnt contacted his colleagues in Kaduna State and informed them of my attack the same night I was revived at Amrullah Hospital.
“UNICEF contacted Kaduna State government, and Commissioner For Health Kaduna State visited the following afternoon of the attack. He later sent an ambulance which took me to government hospital. Though no bed space and everywhere was already filled with victims.
“The third day of the incident, my Ogas contacted Gen. Burutai’s men to save the situation as there was still curfew and I almost couldn’t walk. A very calm Army boss reported at Hajia Asmau’s residence with his men the third day and carried me to 44 Military Hospital to attend to my dangling fractured and dislocated hand. The army medical doctors insisted on thorough X-ray including that of my head. At the end the Army left [in better condition].”
Temitope was reunited with her family afterwards.
VON DELIVERED ME WHOLE TO MY FAMILY
“Spending three days in Kaduna State during the heat of the crises wasn’t easy at all for my family (though Hajia Asmau’s presence created relief for my mother). VON sent an official car with the office nurse and armed men escorted my scattered body with my breathe intact out of Kaduna town. I was exchanged into VON official car at Kaduna Toll gate.”
The haunting experience will live with Temitope forever.
“I do have a lot to say about Kaduna State October 2018 crises,” the victim says.
“While recuperating and being on bed rest, I think, when my nurse (my mum’s eyes) are few times away from me). I think about being carried from the gutters by an unknown, possibly Muslim, JTF member. I think about Amrullah Hospital (a complete Muslim hospital which God used to stabilise me after coming out of deep sleep and they did not deliver me into the hands of the hot headed miscreants. I think about the safety of Nigerian road users, travellers, in the midst of crises across Nigeria???
“So many thoughts feeling my sutured head but I sure must put all these thoughts down.
“That I am alive alone for now, I am grateful to God Almighty.”
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