How herdsmen wiped out family of 6
Lone survivor, girl 14, raped, forced to marry refugee
From LINUS OOTA, Lafia
She became an orphan in 2014, at age 14, when blood-thirsty herdsmen marauders invaded farmlands at her village, Atoogu, Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, shooting anyone in sight and destroying farm produce. When the smoke cleared, her 46-year-old father, David Iorapuu Shimave; her mother, Angelina, aged 39, and eldest brother, Aondogu, lay dead. Also dispatched to their untimely graves, were her elder twin siblings, Henbadoom and Tyonenge, aged 17, who until their gruesome death, were JSS2 students of Government Secondary School, Obi. They were all gone forever.
Providence saved her from suffering same cruel fate, as she was asked to stay back and keep watch over their home on that evil day. After her parents and siblings were interred, the reality of a new chapter in her life, that of a lone, hapless and helpless teenager, dawned on her, and she prayed for God’s mercy.
Days later for reprieve seemed to have come her way through her father’s relative, Thomas Honga, a farmer and trader, who took her to Giza village in Keana Local Government Area of the state, where he was resident. But her joy of being fostered evaporated shortly after her arrival.
Fragile and frightful, the young girl, Esther Terngu Shimave, became an object of sexual abuse for a 48-year-old, Tarveshima Akuza, also a victim of Fulani herders/farmers clashes, who had relocated from Taraba State, and taken refuge in her new found guardian’s home. It did not take long before the man, who she now refers to as her husband, impregnated her.
Though Tarveshima, whom she later discovered to be her benefactor’s friend had warned her against revealing what transpired between them, the situation became unbearable and she was left with no option but to let the cat out of the bag. However, rather than being protected, her guardian arranged for medical examination to confirm her pregnancy, and once that was done, he allegedly forced her to marry his friend.
Left in the cold, she recoiled into her shell and did his bidding, eventually giving birth to a baby boy early 2015. A few months later, precisely on August 2, 2015, her guardian, Thomas Honga, died in an auto crash while on a trip to Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, to restock his shop. And that marked the beginning of another round of trouble for her.
One month after, Tarveshima, the father of her child, bolted away from the village and has remained out of sight and incommunicado, till date, worsening her pains and sorrow.
Now aged 17, Esther, who had since relocated from Giza village, hawks fruits on Makurdi Road, Lafia, in her battle for survival with her three-year-old son. She recounted how fate had been cruel to her in a recent encounter with our correspondent.
Her story: “After my father, mother and siblings were all wiped out by the Fulani, and I was taken away to Giza village by my father’s relation, we had a small room in the house where Tarveshima stayed; he was equally displaced by Fulani herdsmen in Taraba where he lost his two children and wife, as well as several relations. One day when everybody had gone out, he invited me to the room and said, ‘do you know you are a very beautiful girl? I said yes, I am. He went to a nearby market and decided to buy bread and inner wears for me. Initially, I was happy for the items he bought for me because I didn’t understand what he meant; he opened the bread for me and insisted I should come close to him. As I was eating, he was touching my breast and I was like, uncle, what are you doing? He pressed on and before I knew it, he had sex with me against my wish”. I was in pains for days with blood rushing out, but he warned me not to reveal what happened to anyone.
“I started crying and he said I shouldn’t tell anybody that he will take me to the hospital to treat me. After a week he did same and it continued until one month after, I did not understand what was happening to me; later I discovered that I was pregnant. One day, I decided to open up to Mr. Honga whom I was staying with, who later asked his wife to examine me. We went to a pharmacy who carried out a test, which showed I was pregnant, and that was when I revealed everything to them, because I was not going to school since the death of my parents. Mr. Honga forced me into marrying his friend, Tarveshima, who was 48 years old and had also been displaced by the herdsmen in Taraba. I didn’t know him from anywhere and I had not been to Taraba all my life.
“I was there with them and Tarveshima became my husband. I later gave birth to a baby boy, named Terhemba. Few months after I was delivered of the baby, Honga, with whom I lived and was the breadwinner of the family, providing for me and my husband who had nothing, having lost all his people in Taraba and was starting a fresh family with me, died in a motor accident, and his death marked the beginning of big trouble for me as my husband disappeared one month after and up till now, I don’t know his whereabouts, neither do I know his place in Taraba, because he never took me there. Life became unbearable for me and the family of Honga left behind; so I decided to leave the village for Lafia, where I started doing menial job in a restaurant to take care of my child who is now three years old.
“I was working with Hajia Amina in her restaurant in Lafia, and she paid me N9, 000 monthly. After a year, the work was too stressful for me to cope with my baby, so I complained to her that I couldn’t continue with the work, and she accepted. She even allowed me to stay in her house at No. 32 Shendam Road, behind Unity Bank, Lafia, up till date. I started hawking oranges at Yusuf filling station by Lafia/Makurdi round about, through which I get little money to take care of myself and my son, who I enrolled at Sandagi Nursery School, Lafia.
Every morning, I prepare him for school before going to hawk my oranges, and I go to the school during closing time and to pick him to where I sell, before we retire home in the evening. My parents had promised to give me the best of education they could afford before their unfortunate demise; now, my major challenge is that I cannot trace the roots of the father of my child. But I hope and pray that God will salvage me from this situation.”