By Wole Mosadomi, Minna
The immediate family members of the five Igbos gunned down in Madalla town, Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State last Thursday are now totally scared of everyone, including their own shadows.
They see anybody approaching them as a potential killer following their traumatic experience that ill-fated day which has left them in shock and may haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The experience is indeed a painful one, made more acute by the fact that some of them witnessed how their husbands and other relatives were gunned down for no reason. For them, the sad memories still linger. In fact, wives of two of the slain victims have fled Madalla town and returned to their state of origin with no plans of returning back to base.
Residents, especially non-indigenes, of the areas where the people were gunned down are still living in perpetual fear.
When the sad news of the mysterious killing of the five Igbos broke out last Thursday night, there were divergent stories about how they were felled by the gun men.
How it happened: AT about 7p.m on the fateful day, two gun-wielding men were said to have stormed Madalla Market. Most traders were said to have retired back home when these gun men stormed the area.
Chairman, Igbo Community in Madalla town, Mr. Fortunatus Madu told Vanguard Metro, VM, that the peace relatively enjoyed in the area was suddenly disrupted as people of the area ran helter-skelter for dear lifes when five corpses were found lying in the area.
“I was in my shop when my daughter called me on phone that there were gun shots in the area and that two people have already been gunned down in my area called Junction I opposite Madalla Hotel. Before I could rush home, there was fresh information about the finding of the bodies of two other people killed by the same men in the market,” the chairman narrated.
He said the two gunmen who were said to have carried out the dastardly act moved freely through the street on foot.
How they were killed: One of the casualties who wedded last June and was blessed with one issue was gunned down because of his inability to recite the Holy Qur’an.
“My husband was just outside our premises and he was accosted by two men. After exchanging greetings, he was asked to recite the Qur’an but as a Christian, he could not.
“I was busy listening to their conversation through the window of our room. My husband begged them to spare his life, they refused and the next thing I knew the two men gunned down my husband and fled. It was unbelievable. I could not believe what I saw when I rushed to rescue him and found he was already dead,” the wife narrated to the Igbo elders.
Mr. Madu further explained that two other Igbo boys were also accosted by the same gun men and were instructed to recite the Qur’an.
Discharged and acquitted
The two of them are Christians. One of them was lucky to recite some passages of the Qur’an due to his familiarity with some Muslim friends; he was “discharged and acquitted”. But not the same with his partner who could not even recite a line as he was immediately gunned down.
Mr. Madu in an emotion-laden voice narrated how one of the last victims was gunned down. According to him: “The last victim was gunned down by these men while on his way to purchase just five litres of petrol for his generator. He never made it to the filling station and did not return back home as he met his untimely death also for his inability to recite the Qur’an”.
Armed robbery or Boko Haram? The identity of those behind this dastardly act is yet to be unraveled. When asked whether it was an armed robbery or an attack based on Islamic fanaticism, the Igbo retorted: “You can answer the question yourself. How can armed robbers ask you to recite Qur’an?
“The mission of an armed robber is to steal your property; he may decide to spare your life or gun you down. But in this case, the demand was for the recitation of the Qur’an and death for failure to comply”.
According to him, no property was stolen from the victims except their lifes that were taken prematuredly.
Clarion call: Though business activities in the town have resumed, traders at the one-time bubbling satellite town now hurriedly close shop between 7-8p.m. since last Thursday when the ugly incident occurred. The prevailing low business is a fallout of the fear of possible return of the killers.
Mr. Madu called on the Federal Government to come to the immediate assistance of Suleja Madalla and other satellite towns of Abuja.
“What Madalla needs is about five police posts. The town is big and it is growing bigger everyday because of its proximity to Abuja,” he remarked. He added that the police posts should also be provided with vehicles and other logistics to enable them function effectively.
Mr. Madu who hails from Imo State said he has been living in Madalla town for over 25 years and that at no time did he witness any friction between the indigenes and other Nigerians resident in the town. According to him: “When the indigenes ( that is Gwaris) heard about the ugly incident, some of them sobbed like babies and moved from one shop to the other and from house to house assuring us of the safety of our lifes and property and pleaded with us not to flee the town.”
Although the Divisional Police Officer “C” Division in Madalla, CSP Nurudeen Abdul, confirmed the ugly incident, he, however, refused to comment further but added: “One thing I can assure you is that the police is on top of the issue and we have provided additional security everywhere”.
He, however, said that the only assistance members of the public can give the police in checking the spate of crimes in the society is to avail them (police) of useful informations that could lead to the arrest of the criminals.
Four of the casualties were identified as John Kalu, Oliver Ezemah, Uche Nguwene and Sunday Emmanuel, while the name of the fifth was yet to be released as at the time of going to the press.