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Vigilantes

22.12.2021 investigations A Vigilante Murdered A Motorcycle Passenger in Niger. Still, He Walks Free

Published 22nd Dec, 2021

By Yakubu Mohammed

Amina Garba was burying her tears, perhaps because her children were present in the room. She recounted how Hussaini Garba, her husband, was killed by Nura Usman, a hoodlum who voluntarily joined the Niger State Task Force enforcing a ban on motorcycles in Minna metropolis.

On June 2, Abubakar Sani Bello, the Niger State Governor, announced the ban on commercial motorcycle’s operation in Minna, the state capital. This, he said, was to tackle the escalating insecurity in the state. 

Two days later, the Bello-led administration launched a joint task force to enforce the ban. The task force comprises police officers, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, army, local vigilantes and other paramilitary operatives. 

Usman was confirmed as a member of the vigilante group in the Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State.

CHASED TO DEATH

Late Hussaini Garba

On November 1, Hussaini set out from his house in Bosso, Minna, to pay a NEPA bill. Amina, his wife, could not say whether he boarded a motorcycle or was given a lift. She said her husband did not like boarding commercial motorcycles. After remitting the money, Hussaini met his death on his way home.

Amina rested her palms on the chair she sat on, squeezing her face to prevent tears from strolling down her cheeks. “He had gone to pay NEPA bill,” she muttered. “He had already paid the bill. On his way back, the task force gave him a chase.”

She said the task force operatives were after the motorcycle taking her husband home.

“The bike man, after running for some minutes, dashed into the Federal University of Technology, Minna (FUTMINNA) via its Bosso gate. Yet, the chase would not stop,” she recounted.

“There were bridges built on a wide gully by Julius Berger in the school,” Amina told FIJ. “One of the task force members, Usman, was chasing them closely between the bridges. Suddenly, he kicked them with his leg and they somersaulted from the bridge’s side into the gully.”

Amina paused for a while, avoiding eye contact with this reporter. The children in the room had stopped their noise and everywhere was quiet. Amina continued, but still looking away, “My husband was the first that landed in the gully, followed by the motorcycle and its owner. The motorcycle landed on his chest where he lay helplessly.”

The gully Hussaini and the cyclist was kicked into

“While the victims writhed. in pain, Usman was busy struggling to evacuate the motorcycle. This led to mob action against him by the students. He would later be rescued by the school securities.”

‘HUSSAINI’S BLADDER GOT BAD. HE URINATED LOOSELY UNTIL HIS DEATH’

“Hussaini did not sustain any physical injury,” his bereaved wife told FIJ. “The fractures were internal. Until his death, his bladder was bad. He was urinating on himself. There was no control.

“He was taken to FUT clinic, where he was given first aid. But the clinic later advised that we take him to Minna General Hospital.”

Hussaini’s life could have been saved had the hospital management commenced treatment on time. Amina said the hospital demanded that the family pay before they could treat her husband. 

“There was no money to pay the hospital,” she said, adding the family tried all they could but help was not coming.

Hussaini was taken into the ward. When Amina visited the ward where he was lying, the mattress was wet. “I thought it was water from the gully he fell into. But I was wrong; it was urine,”Amina said. She turned swiftly to this reporter and said, “He was urinating uncontrollably till he died.”

Before his death, Hussaini would not open his eyes. But his heartbeats convinced Amina he was still alive.

“All of a sudden, death knocked. His breath seized. He opened his eyes and injured mouth. His eyes that were opened were just like blind ones. Not white, but grey, just like beggars’ own,” she told FIJ. “He only breathed thrice. The first and second times were scary, but on the third one, life went out of him.”

Amina said she called Usman Garba, her son who had gone home to take another piece of clothing for his father. “Your father is dead,” she broke the news to him. “Hurry up so we can take him home.”

Hussaini’s body was taken to his residence in Bosso. As a Muslim, he was not kept too long. He was buried according to Islamic rites in one of the graveyards in Minna. 

Seated next to Amina in the room was Amarya, Hussaini’s second wife. There were two children (a male and a female) toying with the room decors. 

Amarya was nursing a baby boy. The boy was just a month old when his father was gruesomely killed. In all, Hussani was survived by two wives and seven children, one of whom is now studying at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU).

Hussaini’s family had been receiving sympathisers in their house since the incident happened. Delegates from the police, civil defence corps and other concerned persons had visited the family at their Bosso residence, “but none from the family of the killer”.

USMAN NURA: FROM STREET THUG TO VIGILANTE

Usman Nura, a resident of Bosso, was notorious for his nefarious activities in Minna, FIJ’s findings revealed. 

A source in Bosso, where he lives, told FIJ that Usman had a gang he led after abandoning cycling. The gang, the source said, were illegally ticketing cyclists.

E get one time wey e dey do kabukabu. E stop dat one and gather boys and dey start to dey cut ticket for kabukabu people,” the source said in pidgin.

A vendor in Bosso also wondered how a thug like Usman would be accepted into a vigilante group. She asked, “How can someone with criminal records fight crime?” 

“A criminal will always be a criminal. Now, he has killed an innocent soul.” 

NO JUSTICE

When the incident happened, Usman was arrested and detained in a police station in Bosso. He would be released a few days later.

For fear of victimisation, the family refused to comment on the government’s silence on the issue. A family member who works with the government said, “The government could punish us either by delisting us on the payroll or even frustrating us out of work.”

As the family weeps, the murderer enjoys immunity. “He walks freely around,” a source told FIJ. Another source said the last time she saw Usman was in Bosso. “He was coming out of their vigilante office,” he said.

Abubakar Gomna, the chairman of Bosso Local Government, told FIJ that he had no prior report about Usman’s notoriety. “The police division in Bosso, where he was detained, does not have any criminal records against him,” he said. He also promised to investigate the matter.

FIJ understands that the government is doing nothing to ensure justice for the family. When contacted, Wasiu Abiodun, the Niger State police spokesman, told FIJ to send a text message. But at press time, he had not responded to the message.

Published 22nd Dec, 2021

By Yakubu Mohammed

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