Father of 10 loses life, Okada to robbers
By ROMANUS UGWU
The Pudza family of Chibok in Borno State, currently living in Pegi village in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), lost Joseph, on May 20, this year.
The 45 -year- old farmer and father of 10 children from two wives, had fled Chibok to Abuja in October 2014, after he narrowly escaped the second deadly attack on his community by Boko Haram insurgents. Unfortunately, his escape from terrorists ended abruptly last month as he was killed by motorcycle robbers.
It was gathered that Joseph, a former cattle owner, who took to operating commercial motorcycle (okada) to enable him fend for his family while in their forced exile, had initially relocated seven of his children and aged mother from Chibok to Abuja after the abduction of the Chibok school girls in June, 2014 and stayed back with his wife and two children. However, the second attack on the community in November of same year, made him have a re-think and he fled Chibok with his wife to join his children and 80 year- old mother in Abuja.
Instead of moving into one of the IDPs camps in the FCT, Joseph joined the rest of his family in an uncompleted building belonging to his immediate elder brother in Pegi village, and he quickly adjusted to the realities of his new life, facing the attendant challenges.
Mindful that he had to work hard to sustain his large family, he wasted no time in going into farming and part-time commercial motorcycle operation, from which he was able to enroll his children in schools and sustain the family.
Joseph wasted no time in making Pegi his home, forgetting completely the Boko Haram-inflicted sorrow and pain that denied him comfort back home in Chibok. For him, God replaced all that the locust of Boko Haram consumed.
Killed by Okada robbers
Unfortunately, just as the Pudzas were beginning to rejoice in their newfound home that they had recovered all that the Boko Haram took away from them, tragedy struck on the night of Friday, May 20, when yet-to-be-identified robbers killed their breadwinner along Kuje-Pegi Road and made away with his motorcycle and money.
They slashed Joseph’s throat, leaving him to die.
Body recovered by police
Narrating the circumstances that led to Joseph’s death and how the family received the news, his elder brother, Habila Pudza, told Abuja Metro that he received a telephone call from Kuje police station inviting him over, adding that he later meandered the crowd to shockingly identify his brother’s corpse.
The heartbroken father of four said he was at crossroads over how to take care of his late brother’s family in addition to his own and their old mother.
He said: “I am a staff of National Population Commission (NPC) and the late Joseph’s elder brother. We are from Chibok town. What brought my late brother and his family to Abuja in the first place, was the insecurity inflicted on our community by Boko Haram insurgency.
“After Boko Haram’s abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, I relocated my mother and seven of my brother’s children to Abuja to save them from further attacks. But Joseph and his wife stayed behind with two other children since his first daughter is already married. When Boko Haram stormed Chibok the second time, they were lucky to escape to Abuja right from their farm. In fact, that fateful day, they were in the farm when the attackers came, and they did not return to Chibok again from that farm.
“Interestingly, since the first attack, they adopted the measure of carrying all their money on them and that was how they were able to escape from the farm, left his cows and farm, walked several kilometres to a bus station, where they boarded a bus to Abuja to re-unite with their family members.
“As an industrious man, as soon as he arrived in Abuja, he wasted no time in engaging himself in something. Aware how I was struggling to sustain his seven children, he pleaded that I escort him to Gwagwalada to purchase a motorcycle for N130,000 for commercial purpose, to enable him feed his family. He combined the Okada business with other jobs like farming to make ends meet. It was while things were beginning to stabilise for him that the devils from the pit of hell snuffed life out of him on that fateful Friday night.
“My brother’s wife had called me at about 1am to complain that her husband was not yet at home. Since there was nothing I could do at that time because his telephone was switched off, I told her we had no option than to wait till morning. I told her to get across to his fellow Okada operators that night to see if they knew his whereabouts. However, shockingly around 6 am on Saturday, when I was about leaving home to search for him, I received a call from one of our brothers, informing me that my attention was needed at Kuje police station.
“On getting there, I saw some of our kinsmen among the crowd that gathered round a man lying dead. My kinsmen told me they had gone out to search for him as early as 5am but did not see him, and on getting to the police station to report his disappearance, they saw his body inside the police van. Policemen later told them that they found the body by the roadside.
“I was confused when I removed the leaves used to cover the body and discovered it was my brother. Many things raced in mind. How would I break the news to his wife and even my aged mother without causing her death? She was sentimentally attached to him more than all of us.
How he died
“There are many versions to the circumstances that led to his death but from what I gathered at the police station, one of his female customers living in Pegi had pleaded with him to drop her at Kuje for a Christian vigil that day and he reluctantly accepted because he did not like working at night.
“I was told that two men had approached a fellow Okada rider in Kuje to take them to Pegi, but he referred them to my brother because he was returning to Pegi. I do not know whether he engaged the robbers in a fight to save his Okada and they sliced his throat, leaving him to bleed to death. Police told me that while returning from patrol around 5am on Saturday, they saw his corpse by the roadside along Pegi Road.
Buried in Abuja
“We had to retrieve his remains from the police for burial in Abuja. There is no need taking his corpse back to Chibok because all our family members are still in Abuja. We do not have any relative in the community because it is still not safe to return to Chibok. Again, it would have been very difficult raising funds to take his remains back to Chibok.
Vengeance is of God
From all indications, the Pudza family after burying their dead, has resigned to fate, leaving vengeance to God.
Habilla said: “Since we buried him, we have not heard anything from the police and we have not also gone back there to ask them how far they have gone with the investigations. We have left vengeance to God.
“My message to the people that killed him in cold blood and made away with his motorcycle is that they should repent and surrender themselves to the authorities.
Plea for help
“However, I want to appeal to the government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the family. My late brother knew he was only a sojourner here. He ran away from Chibok to save his life and his family but unfortunately, what he ran away from at Chibok, caught up with him here.”
A widow’s pain
Speaking through as interpreter, Joseph’s widow, Naomi, amid sobs said she has left everything in the hands of God, adding that she does not really know what to do and how to feed her children.
While praying to God to forgive those who made her a young widow, she said: “Honestly, I do not really know what is happening to me and I do not know what to do. Fate has been very harsh on us. In Chibok, we were okay because my husband had a huge farmland. We had cattle and goats, we left everything to save our lives but now, my husband has been killed by evil men.” she lamented.
“What can I do? How can I alone feed and train these children? I will leave everything in the hands of God and as for those who killed my husband, I pray that God should forgive them because they do not know what they did.”