Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Like the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, who saved and cared for a man that fell into the hands of robbers as he journeyed to Jericho, a Fulani medical doctor and hospital owner has written his name in the heart of a Yoruba journalist he saved from death. For the rest of her life, Mrs. Temitope Mustapha, a reporter for the Voice of Nigeria, would have a very warm place in her heart for the medical team of Amrullah Hospital in Kaduna State, who put their own lives at risk, to save her life, even in the face of the serious threat by the miscreants to burn down the medical facility if she was not released to them, to kill.
The owner of the facility, Shehu Umar, demonstrated uncommon humanity and patriotism by going the extra mile to hide Mrs. Mustapha and the team specifically assigned to treat her for the duration of her stay in the hospital.
Mrs. Mustapha’s close shave with death happened on Sunday, October 21, 2018 as she was travelling from Abuja to Kano by road. Of course, she had to go through Kaduna (Nnamdi Azikiwe bypass) before proceeding to Zaria and then onwards to Kano, her destination, where she was billed to participate in a two-day programme, ‘Media Dialogue on Equity for the Girl Child Education.’
It is to be noted that Kaduna State, the political headquarters of Northern Nigeria, has witnessed and survived several religious and political crises. Many of the crises were trailed by reprisal attacks as one religious or political group sought to avenge the killing of its members by another group.
For people travelling by road from Maiduguri, Kano and other major northern cities, Kaduna is strategically positioned as the gateway to Abuja, the Federal capital territory. Therefore, it receives a daily influx of motorists.
Unfortunately, the high traffic route has become associated with dangers ranging from avoidable road crashes, kidnapping and robbery attacks by miscreants.
On the fateful Sunday, and unknown to Mrs. Mustapha as well as many other travelers, tension was brewing as a result of unrest in Kajuru Local government Area, which is about 72 kilometers from Nnamdi Azikiwe bypass. Some miscreants in the area took advantage of the blockage of the road, caused by a fallen truck along the bypass to attack innocent travellers.
The ensuing attack brought Mrs. Mustapha within whiskers of death, but providence saved her. Barely a month after the attack, she shared her experience on social media on November 6, 2018, and the post went viral.
Her words: “Passing through Kaduna State on Sunday 21st of October 2018, to connect to Kano State for a two-day Media Dialogue on Equity for the Girl Child Education. I never thought the trip would end up bloody for me. About 4:35pm (local time). I woke up (regained consciousness) at Amrullah Hospital (also along Kaduna bypass ) on a stretcher, and started talking, telling them I am a journalist with Voice of Nigeria and I was only passing through Kaduna State to attend a media programme in Kano State.
“I attempted standing from the stretcher, but my body didn’t respond. I was asked for phone numbers. Heaven helped me to remember my younger sister’s number and the father of my children’s number.”
Attacked and left to die
Her run of good fortune continued when the owner of the hospital, Shehu Umar, became aware of her case. In the course of the interaction with him, Sunday Sun learnt more about the fortuitous intervention of God through Umar.
Umar, who runs the faith-based health facility told Sunday Sun what transpired at the hospital: “When that crisis started, she was attacked around Bakin Ruwa. The criminals beat her with cudgels and threw big stones at her. She fell down as blood gushed from her body. They left her there thinking that she was dead. Fortunately, some members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF), who operate along the route saw her lying in a pool of blood. Usually the members of the CJTF are the ones who try to prevent the crisis started by those criminals from escalating. The criminals just attack and kill people anyhow. So, the civilian JTF would mobilise themselves to stop the criminals from attacking people on the road.
“Some of the civilian JTF brought her to my hospital. They just dumped her on the stretcher thinking she was dead. It was after they left that our staff checked and saw that she could live again.
“Surprisingly, the criminals came and threatened to raze the hospital if we refused to release her to them so that they could finish her. But, when a call was put across to me, I told them never to release her even if it would lead to them burning the hospital. I did not even bother to ask whether she was a Christian or a Muslim or Igbo or Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani.
“The concern was about humanity. So, we don’t care about religion or whatever. Humanity comes first. That is what I believe. So, we don’t care about those people that are fighting themselves because of religion. We are there to save lives. Our happiness is seeing her back to life, on her feet and returned to her people happily. You can imagine the joy you will have if she were to be your daughter, mother, sister or wife. Imagine that she was almost killed just because she was passing through a road.
“She was attacked by unpatriotic Nigerians and saved by patriotic Nigerians. As a Muslim, I got to know she was a Christian much later. I was so happy that my hospital saved a Christian. That singular act gave me hope of a better united Nigeria where we still have people who don’t believe in these sentiments like religion or ethnicity. I also learnt that there are a lot of Christians who have saved Muslims in Southern Kaduna. I am aware of a Christian woman in a town in Southern Kaduna who saved a man who was selling tomatoes.
“I started the hospital in 2013 and a lot of lives have been saved there. But saving this lady remains the best thing that has happened to me since the hospital was opened. I was so happy, so happy about it. In fact, the Kaduna State government, through the Commissioner of Health at that time, even came to clear her bills. But I declined. I said we did what we did free of charge. We saved her life because she is human and not because of money. The hospital was opened for such purposes and not a profit running hospital. I didn’t know what she looked like up till now. I was happy that her parents saw her again. I have children too and that is what some people don’t think about. If it is your own child that someone killed without committing any offence, how would you feel?
“Initially, she was scared. Whenever she saw the nurses coming to treat her, she would be crying because of those seeking her life. Now, we are like a family. She became friend to all the staff.”
Umar said that the country’s diversity is great advantage and recalled an encounter he had years ago: “You see people good at what they do and you go for the service putting aside other sentiments. For example, a Yoruba medical doctor from Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, came to Kaduna on daily basis for four months to treat my mother. He did all that free. I didn’t pay him a dime. I am a Fulani person. It was a Yoruba man that did this for me. In life, I cannot forget Yoruba people for what that man did for my family. So, saving this lady was not even enough. I followed her on social media and saw a lot of things she wrote about how a Muslim hospital saved her.”
Lending credence to what Umar said, Temitope wrote an evergreen account on her Facebook wall to document her appreciation: “AMRULLAH Hospital…Totally to my rescue; about six drips including flagyl and all manner of medications were set into my system. I was revived, head suturing was done, the young Muslim doctor was crying while suturing my head, hospital attendants were cleaning stretcher stained with my blood.
“Everybody was put on guard. The miscreants traced me to the hospital and demanded that the lady brought in should be released by the hospital to be killed. This Muslim hospital saved me, hid me away from them and I realised I was kept in a ward locked with a nurse who was given instructions not to open the ward to anyone she possibly didn’t know the voice. Only the Hospital manager, the doctor on duty and two nurses were given access to where I was.”