Gyang Bere, Jos
Life is now an absolute daily agony for 65-year-old Yakubu Jah, whose surviving male child, Philip Yakubu, was caught in the crossfire of a battle between two rival cult groups, Red Axe and Black Axe, in Kabong community, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The violent and tragic clash which happened penultimate Saturday left four persons dead, including Philip. The brutal killing of 29-year-old Philip has enveloped the family in sorrow. People in the community are now tense and petrified as revenge attacks and killings by the rival groups have made the place unsafe.
Yakubu, who described the slaying of his only surviving male child as the worst fate that had befallen him, said the tragic incident left him more devastated after losing other sons in earlier years.
On the fateful day, Philip was at home in the evening and chatting with his parents, when his phone rang. Within seconds he left the house, to play with his friends at the market square, which is not far from the house.
Sadly, a fight between the two rival cult groups spilled into the place where Philip and his friends were playing. In the ensuing confusion, he was stabbed severally with a knife on his chest and neck. The panic caused by the fight made people within the vicinity to hurriedly lock up their shops and flee as the sound of sustained shooting rent the air.
The residents who were out either for relaxation or to purchase foodstuff, mostly women and young girls, scampered for safety.
Philip who was bleeding profusely was rushed to Bingham University Teaching Hospital for urgent treatment but he died before reaching the medical facility. His corpse was subsequently deposited at the morgue after doctors certified him dead.
Meanwhile his father who was at home and preparing to eat dinner couldn’t believe what happened to his son, who had gone out just one hour earlier. When he was alerted about what happened to the son and before he could get to the hospital, he was told that his son had died.
Expectedly, shock and disbelief covered him like a blanket. As the enormity of his loss sank in, he was thrown into temporary confusion.
Recalling the incident, Yakubu said: “If I had the premonition that my son would die, I would not have allowed him go out when he received that phone call that made him go to the place of his death. His friends said it was a military man that called him out of the house, but I don’t know who actually called him. I don’t know where to start now, this boy has been very supportive in the family, he has been killed, I couldn’t believe the story which sounded like a movie until when I saw the corpse at the mortuary the following morning. I am finished.”
Philip who was the fourth child in the family of five and left behind three children – Pam and Davou, eight and five years respectively. The youngest, Bitrus is two years old and was abandoned by the mother one year ago.
Philip lost his elder sister in a mysterious manner several years ago while the elder brother, Luka, died in 2015 in a fatal car accident. As if that wasn’t enough, the younger brother also died after a brief illness in 2016, leaving behind two girls.
According to the father, he was yet to recover from the rude shock of losing his children only for him to be hit again with the sad news of the death of Philip, the bread winner of the family.
His words: “I don’t know why my children always die in these circumstances. I lost the first child many years ago in a brutal manner, and the elder brother died through accident in Delta State. Somebody gave him a vehicle to drive without my knowledge and he had accident and died. Now Philip has been killed by his friends.
“People have always encouraged me to seek for justice but if I remember how they died. I don’t want to go into that, particularly regarding the death of Philip because it will be a waste of resources and precious time. Some people even spread the rumour that he was a cultist. I don’t know about that, I have left everything to God.”
Sunday Sun gathered that the fight between cult groups continued throughout the night of the day that Philip was killed. Four corpses were recovered the next morning which was Sunday. One was found by the police at Goodluck Jonathan Way, Gada Biu, two were recovered close to the jungle at the river bank while the corpse of 32-year-old Shedrack was found in his room at Jenta Makeri.
However, on Tuesday, May 8, panic spread through the community, when a cult group dressed in black claimed that Philip was their member and insisted that the family should release his corpse to them for burial according to their norms.
Sunday Sun learnt the boys came out in their numbers as early as 8:00a.m and marched to Bingham University Teaching Hospital Jos, where they created a scene as they demanded for the corpse from the family.
The cult group, which was made up of young boys and girls, threatened to unleash terror on innocent members of the public, and even attempted to burn a popular hotel, which is said to belong to the leader of the rival cult group. To save the day, teams of the Special Task Force (STF) in charge of internal security in Jos and its environs rushed to the area as just as the Nigerian police and men of the Department of the State Services were called in to join in restoring normalcy and pave way for the burial which took place behind Government Secondary School, Kabong.
James Markus, a close friend of Philip wailed uncontrollably at the burial. “I grew up with Philip in this community and I left him that fateful day less than 30 minutes before he was killed,” he said, sobbing.
Village Head of the Area, Da. Nyam Maurice, expressed worry over the ugly incident and called for sustained security in the area to guarantee safety of lives and property.
Da. Maurice explained that this was the first time the community had recorded such an incident.
He vowed to take stringent measures to avert future occurrence of such bloody clash.
Police Public Relations Officer of Plateau State Police Command, ASP Matthias Terna Tyopev, confirmed that a corpse was found on Sunday morning at the flyover bridge at Goodluck Jonathan Way in Gada Biu while two other corpses were also recovered.
On the day of the burial, he said the police and other security agencies were at the scene to avert further break down of law and other. “We have beefed up security within the area and environs to curtail further killings in the area,” Tyopev said.
Spokesman of the Special Task Force, Major Umar Adams, said some hoodlums tried to take advantage of the crowded environment during the burial of Philip to unleash terror on innocent people. He said the STF personnel mobilized to prevent more loss of lives.