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Sectarian crisis: Wives, mothers lament loss of bread winners

Maiduguri — Some of the women who lost their loved ones in last week’s sectarian crisis in Maiduguri are bemoaning their fate and have appealed for government assistance.

The Boko Haram Muslim sect, led by 39-year-old Mohammed Yusuf, had last Monday launched  a violent attack on the people of the state in what it called a “holy war” against Western education.

Some of the women who spoke in Maiduguri yesterday expressed disgust over the situation.  “My only son, Ismail, who was a member of the sect, died in the crisis.

“I feel terrified by the situation, because he was the only bread winner in my family, having lost their father many years ago,” 42-year-old Mrs Saddiya Umar said.

Umar, who resides in Abba-Ganaram, a few metres to the sect’s enclave, said her late son joined the group about two years ago in the course of seeking Islamic knowledge.

She said: “He started visiting Yusuf two years ago after he enrolled in his Islamic school. But his behaviour began to change lately. He even refused to come home for some time.  When I went to enquire at the Railway Terminus base of the sect, they politely turned me back.”

Umar said when she kept visiting the place, some members of the sect asked her to divorce her husband and join them. “They told me to abandon my husband and join them, insisting that they had many suitors in the enclave who could marry me,” she added.

Mrs Umma Salihu, a 25-year-old housewife who lost her husband, insisted that the sect members did not deserve to be killed.  “The wicked people killed my husband. I saw his body when we were first brought to the police headquarters.

“My husband was innocent. He couldn’t even hurt a fly, but the security agents shot him while raiding the enclave,” Salihu, who was among the additional 140 women and children rescued by the police on Sunday, said.

“I blame government for the crisis, because the sect had been preaching Islam through peaceful means for years. The government started interfering with their activities, brewing bad blood between the two parties,” she added.

Malama Zainab Ali, a middle aged woman, appealed to government to assist them in starting life again, saying  she lost her husband, Ali, in the crisis.  “He had asked me to accompany him last month to Maiduguri to seek Islamic knowledge. That was how we came to the state,” she said.


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