*I hid among the dead inside church to escape insurgents’ bullets – Worshipper
BY UMAR YUSUF
On January 26, 2014, the people of Chakawa village, a border community between Madagali in Adamawa State and Gwoza in Borno State woke up normally with high hopes of a crisis-free Sunday worship.
But, little did they know that danger loomed over the village, a predominantly Christian settlement.
At about 10:00am, the village of about 300 to 400 people, mainly peasant farmers, was thrown into chaos as suspected Boko Haram insurgents’ unleashed terror on the villagers and churches in the community.
The insurgents struck at the only Catholic Church in the village.
A worshipper in the church, who narrowly escaped death , Godiya Ayuba, told Sunday Vanguard that the attackers entered the village from multiple directions and, within a twinkle of an eye, the entire area was surrounded giving no escape route for any person.
He stated that the attackers, who came on motor bikes and some vehicles, numbered over 50.
According to him, the insurgents quickly surrounded the Catholic Church and locked the doors thereby trapping the worshippers.
”The next thing, they started shooting randomly. Worshippers were slaughtered inside the church and within the premises. Then the vicinity became quiet I hid among corpses”, Godiya recounted.
He added that the insurgents operated for about two hours in the church before taking their leave. “I never believed I could survive. Miraculously no bullet hit me. I hid among the bodies for over two hours, I was in another world”, he recounted.
Another survivor, Mr. Samuel Mshellia, narrated that when the attackers stormed the church, what was uppermost in worshippers minds was that politicians had come to campaign because of the number of vehicles used.
Samuel stated that as one of the church elders, he had gone to a nearby compound to pick an item when the killers came.
”I watched the killers doing their heinous act from the compound as crying and wailing rented the entire church premises and the suburb.
After the killings in the church, the attackers went freely around shouting war slogans”, he stated.
Giving the causality figure of the attack, the chairman of Madagali local government, Mr. Maina Ularamu, said 34 persons had been confirmed dead, even as more than the figure were missing. He disclosed that 20 others with various degrees of injury many of them on danger list were receiving treatment in hospital.
He maintained that after the church attack, the insurgents retired to the village where they killed many people and carted away food items.
Ularamu expressed regret that military personnel enforcing emergency rule in Adamawa State failed to live up to expectation during the attack.
”To our surprise, the attackers came calling in Chakawa village that fateful day at about 10:00am. And immediately they struck, I was alerted and the military authorities were accordingly informed”,
“The military only arrived our village at about 3pm when the killings had ended and the insurgents gone.
”Ordinarily, it should not have taken a military aircraft about five minutes from Yola to counter the insurgency attack, if action were taken immediately, but when they came it was too late”.
Ulamaru suggested sophisticated weapons for the security agents enforcing emergency rule in the state, even as he commended the Divisional Police Officer in area for his prompt action during the attack.