Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
Residents of Sokoto metropolis woke up last Sunday morning to the disturbing news of a 22-year-old student of Usmanu Danfodiyo
University Sokoto, Habibu Abubakar, whose two hands were brutally chopped off my some yet-to-be identified persons.
The incident came few weeks after another young man, Abdullahi Shehu, was attacked in a similar manner in the state when some youths allegedly cut off one of his arms.
Unlike Shehu, Habibu was unlucky as he was treated in a cruel manner, which drew condemnations as well as resulting into different tales among the people.
The 200-level student of Linguistics, who is now receiving treatment at the Orthopaedic Hospital in Wamakko, Sokoto, was attacked by yet to be identified assailants armed with cutlasses and other weapons when he was about to enter his house in the late hours at Manna Quarters, in the state capital.
The victim while narrating his ordeal to Sunday Sun on his hospital bed in Amenity Ward said that his attackers hit him hard on the head, which made him to become unconscious as blood immediately started gushing down his face before they chopped off his two hands.
Hear him: “My name is Habibu Nakasare Abubakar. I am an indigene of Sokoto South Local Government Area and residing in Nakasare area of Sokoto city. I was born in 1993. The incident happened in the early hours of Sunday.
“Sometimes I do sleep in the house of my long-time friend who is a tailor. On the fateful day, I returned home to pack my car at my family house as usual and then took my motorbike to go to a friend’s house (name withheld). I combined both car and the motorbike for my mobility purposes. I zoomed to his shop, which was a routine thing for me before returning home together. I met him in his shop, but on that day, he informed me that he had a lot of work at hand and would close later than when he usually does at midnight.
“For me, I did not have an option than to continue waiting for him, but about 1:30a.m, I noticed that an unidentified person called him and he went outside the shop to receive the call. When he came back inside, he claimed that the caller was his father, who wanted him to buy mixture tea (known as shai buzayein local parlance) for him.
“I told him that it was already late and there was no place he could get tea sellers at that late hour, but he insisted that he must get it anyway. I told him to use my motorcycle, which was relatively new and in good condition than his own, but he declined. We both left from the shop, and I went straight to his house where I normally retire to. On approaching the house, I saw some strange people, about four or five, lurking around the house and even communicating on phone, but my intention was to hurriedly move into the house and secure my safety. I brought the plank which I use to push the motorcycle into the house.
“Unfortunately, before I laid the wood on the door path, someone just snatched it from me and viciously hit me on the head with it. Another person surfaced and attacked me with a machete, which gave me a deep cut. I fell down and in the process, the third person emerged with a sharp cutlass and chopped off my two hands.”
Habibu, who was at this point in a state of unconsciousness with blood gushing out from his body, could not get help until the said friend came back home.
“I was briefly unconscious throughout this period of the attack. I believe the attackers left immediately and even took my motorcycle along. But when I regained myself, I started shouting for help, but nobody could come near me until about 15 to 30 minutes when I suddenly saw my friend at the spot. He asked me what happened and I explained and he said okay, he lock me in the house till was safe to go to the hospital, but I resisted. I told him to get in touch with my father or any member of my family. I gave him my father’s phone number to dial, but he claimed the number was not responding or switched off. I later discovered he dialed wrong digits.
“When he was with me, his phone rang repeatedly, but he did not to pick the calls. I even asked him why he was not picking the calls, but he did not respond. He later picked the call and moved to a corner and spoke with the caller in low voice. I then sensed more danger with his attitude. I stood up and managed to run away from the house until I met some people in the nearby house whom I am familiar with. I knocked at the door and asked them to call my parents. They later took me to State Specialist Hospital, but the personnel there referred me to orthopaedic hospital where I have been on admission.”
Asked what he thought could be responsible for such brutal attack on his person, Habibu did not hesitate to link the attack to jealousy on the part of his bosom friend.
His words: “I thought of two things. One, maybe people did it out of jealousy because I have a car and a motorbike at my age which is nothing. Secondly, I am into politics, supporting the government of the day, which eventually won re-election. I suspected it could be the all out of the just concluded elections in the state. My friend is of the opposition and I am with the ruling party. He is a jealous type of person if I will describe him.”
He said that the police have taken the friend into custody having identified him as a prime suspect in the matter.
“I have every reason to suspect him as the sponsor of my attackers because of the strange calls he made throughout the moment of the attack,” Habibu alleged.
He appealed to the state government for assistance in providing him with artificial hands that would enable him resume his academic activities. “They have promised to assist me and I am waiting for such to enable me achieve my dream,” he said.
Speaking on the incident, the victim’s schoolmate and President, Department of Modern European Languages of the university where he currently studies, Akindele Olalekan, described the incident as shocking and pathetic. He said that the victim did not deserve to be treated in such a cruel
Manner and urged the authorities to ensure that the culprits were brought to justice.
He, however, noted that the union had written to the school management to grant the victim the liberty to take his examination in oral form.
Also speaking on Habibu’s personal virtue, his course mate, Ismail Abdulakeem, said: “He has no cause to argue or quarrel with anybody since I have known him. He is an easy going person as far as I know.” The Medical Director, Orthopaedic Hospital Wamakko, where the victim is on admission and currently receiving treatment, Dr Nuruddeen Aliyu, said that the victim was brought with both hands cut off and bleeding profusely.
“The young man, about 22 years old, was brought to us with both hands cut off. We were able to stabilize the patient because initially he was bleeding and that bleeding can kill a patient, but we were able to stop the bleeding. Though he came to us rather late because it was already six to seven hours after the criminals had cut off both hands.”
He said an operation would be done to refashion the area cut off and then fix prosthesis (artificial limbs) to the stumps of the hands.
On his part, the spokesman of the state police command, Abubakar Sadiq Muhammad, confirmed that some suspects, including the victim’s close friend, had been arrested and currently being interrogated as part of efforts to unravel the circumstances surrounding the attack.
“We are very much aware of it, we have a suspect in custody and investigation is ongoing, whatever the investigation reveals I will communicate to you in due course,” he said.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Hon. Manir Dan’Iya, who visited the victim on behalf of the state governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, dastardly vowed to apprehend and prosecute all those responsible for the act.
He was accompanied to the hospital by the Secretary of the State Government, Prof. Bashir Garba; Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ali Inname and former Commissioner of Health, Dr. Shehu Balarabe Kakale, among others.
He said that the governor mandated him to come and sympathise with him and the family and assured that all hands are on deck to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators in accordance with the law.
“This barbaric behaviour is unbecoming among the youths and our government will not condone such act, as this will be the last to be seen in the state, God willing,” Dan’iya said during the visit.
The deputy governor disclosed that the state government would fully settle all medical bills of the victim. He said that prayers to Allah to flush out the perpetrators of the evil act would soon start.