Art and Culture

At the Mercy of Terrorists

todayJuly 27, 2022

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HAMZA MUHAMMED TASIU reflects on what the victims of the 29th March Abuja-Kaduna train abduction must be going through 

Let’s imagine this:

You are a young mother. You leave Kaduna some few days earlier for a task in Abuja. After finishing the task, you call your husband and tell him that you will be coming back and that he should buy your best food from your best restaurant for you. You tell him how badly you miss him. You tell him that you’ve bought his favourite perfume for him. You even tell him that he should tell your little daughter that you have bought a special present from Abuja for her. And given the fact that this is the first time you go to Abuja, you tell him that you have a lot of stories from the nation’s capital. On your way to the train station, you stop and buy your mother apples and pineapples. You also buy a new shirt for the almajiri that runs errands for you. 

You leave Idu station at 6pm and you are scheduled to arrive in Kaduna’s Rigasa train station by 8pm. On the train, you say salam to the other occupants and shake their hands. You smile to a very little girl, and she smiles back. Her cute smile injects you with a dose of happiness that you’ve not felt in a long, long time. The woman sitting next to you is an elderly woman in her late 60s. She looks like your mother. She starts a conversation and before long, you feel at home with her. You talk about a lot of things with her. You talk about the month of Ramadan and how you plan to spend it. You even tell her your readiness to fast the whole of Ramadan as your ulcer seems to become dormant lately. She complains that she cannot fast as she is on medication. She says she will fast after finishing her drugs.

Not more than 30 minutes into your journey, the elderly woman now seems like someone you know for many years. Amidst the interesting conversation you are having, she suddenly falls asleep. You want to continue the conversation, but you feel it is uncourteous to wake her up from her sleep. You allow her to continue sleeping. Before long, you also get overpowered by sleep due to the exhaustion from the work you did in Abuja. All of a sudden, you wake up to the sounds of explosions and gunshots. In what seems like the twinkle of an eye, all the unlucky passengers are rounded up by the terrorists. They rain all sorts of abuse on you and force you to walk for tens of kilometers on foot in the bush.

Days have now become months and you are still under the pharaonic care of these terrorists. You look at that elderly woman and you feel sorry for her. Her health is terribly deteriorating as she does not have the drugs that she takes three times a day. She often tells you in the middle of the night: “I am going to die. Look at mosquitoes, rain, hunger, beating and my deteriorating health. I don’t have energy!” But you give her words of encouragement and ask her to keep on, promising her that God will bring help. Your words seem to boost her spirit. She says to you: “May Allah bless you. If not because of you, life would’ve been impossible.” As soon as she closes her mouth, one of the terrorists says to her: “If you don’t keep quiet, I will beat you. I will not mind that you have progressed in age. You will cry, Wallahi. Have you forgotten the beating you received in the morning?

The elderly woman then says, somehow inaudibly: “Ya Allah ka saka mana. Judge between us and those that took the responsibility of protecting us upon themselves and then neglect the responsibility, amin.” As if someone has put her on a speaker, all the kidnapped victims say, “amin” in a resounding voice. The terrorists then descend on them, beating them mercilessly, saying: “Mu zaku hada da Allah? We’ll kill you all wallahi! Wretched human beings. If they don’t bring the money, we’ll kill you all!”  

You become angry because of the abuses they rain on you because you are someone that’s highly respected by your people, but then you remember there’s nothing you could do.

Back at home, your little daughter has been waiting for you now for more than 100 days! All she could do is to pray to Allah to rescue you. She often tells her father: “I don’t want the present, Baba. I just want Mama to come back. Please, bring her back!” The father goes into his room and cries because there’s nothing he could do. He raises his hands in prayer: “Verily, the most helpless of people are those that are unable to ask for Your help. We ask for Your help regarding these servants. Rescue them, Ya Allah!

If this story touches you, then wait for a minute and reflect on what the kidnapped victims are going through. Think of what their families are going through after watching that video. It’s devastating to say the least. May God rescue them! The leadership has failed them!

Hamza Muhammad Tasiu wrote from Abuja 

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