My father’s killers came for me –Slain carpenter’s son

Andrawus Apollos, the first son of Danlami Apollos, a 70-year-old carpenter, who was killed during a crisis that erupted in Sang, Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi State over the coronation of a hamlet head, tells ARMSTRONG BAKAM how the incident happened

Who are you to the 70-year-old man that was killed recently in your village?

 I am the first son of the deceased. My name is Andrawus Apollos and I am a schoolteacher. I am a resident of Sang in Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

Can you recall the incident that led to death of your father?

What happened had a link with the issue of the coronation of a hamlet head. The coronation was done without the knowledge of the people of the village and without their approval. Suddenly, they came and said that they had brought a new hamlet head, but the people said no, they would not accept the new hamlet head, and that was what caused the problem.

So, what role did your father play in the incident?

He was never a contestant and in fact, he had never even spoken about the issue. What actually happened was that I was their prime target. They came after me to kill me because I am the youth leader of the village. It was because of my stance on the truth in the matter; that was why they were after my life. I narrowly escaped; otherwise, they would have succeeded in killing me. When they came and met my father, he told them that he knew nothing about the issue of the hamlet head.

He insisted and told them that he knew nothing about the matter, and that was the truth. They told him that their mission was to find the youth leader and kill him, but he asked them, ‘Why do you want to kill him? What has he done to you?’ He then told them, ‘Instead of you killing him (the youth leader), it is better for you to kill me. That was what happened.

He  even ran away from them and hid behind a tree that is close to his house. I was hiding in a tree and seeing everything that was happening and all they did. Then my younger brother, Shedrach, came and took my father to our pastor’s house and then they used hot water to massage his head, where the attackers hit him. They kept massaging the head with the hot water up to the time he died because he was hit very hard.

How exactly did they attack him?

They hit him with a stick on his head and they also cut him with a machete on his thigh.

Who are these people that killed your father? Are they people you know?

I can say some of them are visitors, while some are youths from the village. We know those of them who are from the village.

You said you were their target, why?

Yes, I was their target and if they had seen me, they would have killed me and maybe their mission would have been accomplished. But they said that since they couldn’t get me, they would kill my father and that would be very painful to me.

At what time did the incident happen and where was your father when they came?

They came at some minutes to 7pm and they met him lying down under a tree in front of his house. There is this woman that was close to where he was and she told him to run and hide; but he refused and told her that he would not run since he knew nothing about the incident, but he later ran not knowing that they would eventually kill him.

How many were these people who came to your village and perpetrated this act?

These people that came and attacked us were many, but those who killed my father were three in number because I saw them with my eyes and I know them; it is not as if someone told me.

Where are they now? Have they run away or are they still in town?

Among those who killed my father, none of them has been arrested. They all ran away from the village and hid somewhere.

What did the police tell you?

The police told us that they would launch a manhunt for all of them.

We learnt that the youth of the village took to the streets to protest that they didn’t want the hamlet head that was coronated. Is that true and what exactly happened?

That is not the truth; they didn’t go out protesting. He was coronated about 105 days ago and when the people rejected him, he went out to stay in another village called Sabon Gari. He refused to come back to the village despite the fact that he was invited many times to come, but he didn’t come. He was invited to come for discussions on the matter, but he never turned up. If he had come as an individual, there wouldn’t have been any issue, but coming back to the village as the leader, the people refused to recognise him as such. Unknown to us, he was there and was planning on how to come back and attack us.

On the day they were to bring him back to the village, nobody went out to do any protest or anything like that. We have this youth leader of Bogoro branch who came and we had a meeting with the entire youths of the village on the matter and we admonished them on peaceful co-existence. He told them never to attack anyone and we never wanted anyone to attack us or anything bad to happen in the village. We told them to allow them to come and do whatever they wanted to do because when they finish whatever they wanted to do, they would all leave since they were planning to escort him home.

There was pressure for the protest to be held, but we prevailed on the youth, and they heard us. We didn’t even know that they were not just after bringing him back to the village; he had organised youths from another place. As soon as they entered the village, they started setting fire on some of the houses in the village and we all ran away, everyone in the village ran out of their houses to take shelter where they would be safe. One would think that since they wanted to bring him back, they would have come back with him, but we didn’t know they had prepared for an attack on the innocent villagers. At the time they attacked us, nobody was prepared for any of such and that was why those they attacked sustained serious injuries. Some people had their heads broken, some had their legs broken, but it was my father that was unfortunate to be killed.

How many people in total were injured during the incident?

Honestly, they are many and because of the level of the attack, we haven’t taken time to get to know the exact number of people for now. Some of them were treated and discharged, while some are still in the hospital receiving treatment.

What were the assailants carrying and how did they come?

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They came with knives, sticks and many weapons and they came in the evening on foot.

How many houses in total were burnt down?

We counted a total of 74 houses and shops – 65 houses and nine shops that were burnt down.

What is the situation in the village now?

Well, everywhere is now calm and the tension has gone down and people are going about their normal activities unhindered.

How are the people coping with the situation?

It is a terrible and pathetic situation because our wives and children have nothing left; there is no food to eat because our foodstuffs were all destroyed. They couldn’t remove anything since everyone ran away.

Were you also affected?

Yes, my house was completely burnt down; I couldn’t pick out even a spoon from the house, everything I had got burnt down. My grains, money and everything got burnt. I had seven bags of maize and groundnuts, I had N50,000 under my pillow, my cushions, everything got burnt.

You incurred double losses; you lost your house and everything in it, and your father was also killed in the same incident. How do you now feel?

I am in a very difficult situation and I haven’t found it easy at all. I am seriously pained and aggrieved by this incident. I don’t even know where to start from. I can only leave everything to God.

Are you married?

Yes, I was married, but my wife died in 2020 and left me with two children – all their clothes were also burnt. I was planning to remarry and all the things I was planning for my wedding, everything is gone.

What can you say about your father?

He was 70 years old and was a trained carpenter. He was married to two wives and had 23 children, but six have died already; we’re 17 that are now left. He had 21 grandchildren.

What kind of a father was he and how was your relationship with him?

He was calm and a gentleman, who never wanted trouble in his life. He had a way of relating with people and living with them peacefully. Since we were children, our father never threatened to flog us; he would only advise us on what we need to do. He caution us never to give in to drinking or any social vice. He would tell us to be patient with the world so that we could part with people in peace. He also used to tell us never to steal anything belonging to anyone. My father was someone who was always jovial and was like a grandfather to many, including his children, and we used to call him ‘Yes man, yes man!’ He ensured that there was peace in his home and he if saw you in need, he would do everything he could to help you.

How have you been feeling since the incident happened?

Honestly, we’ve not found it easy; it is very painful, but as Christians, whatever has happened, we thank God for it because he allowed it to happen. We didn’t find it easy but God, who avenges, will avenge on our behalf.

So, what will you do now? Will you go to court to seek justice or will you allow the police to do their work?

Since the police are already involved, we will allow them to do their work. It is now left to them and not to us. Even though we have a right to go to court, we will wait to see the outcome of whatever they are doing before we know the next step to take. We will only call on them to be diligent and sincere in prosecuting this case to a logical conclusion.

Did your father argue with his attackers?

No, he didn’t. People knew him to be a simple man who never had issues with people and he was always saying, ‘Yes man, yes man’ to people.

When he ran and hid, did the attackers follow him to where he hid or did they wait for him to come out from his hiding place?

When they set houses on fire and the whole place became bright, they saw him hiding and they followed him and attacked him there.

Where were you?

 I was on top of a tree in front of my father’s house and I could see everything that was happening.

Why did you people allow this level of destruction to your property? Didn’t you call the police and didn’t you stop or repel them?

Honestly, we called the police, but they only told us that they were coming.

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