By Uthman Abubakar and Olatunji Omirin
Maiduguri — Belief in fate, President Muhammadu Buhari’s phone call, and Governor Kashim Shettima’s condolence visit assuaged the grief of the father of Boko Haram-slain humanitarian health worker, Hauwa Mohammed Liman, 25. But there’s one thing he wishes was possible.
The strenuous effort he made to speak, with some calmness and composure to suppress his grief as he narrated his story, could not conceal the intense agony torturing him. The callous killing of Hauwa by her captors, Boko Haram, is to him a bereavement that might continue to weigh on his heart for God-knows-how-long a time.
Reporters were so fortunate that before their arrival at his house at Mairi ward at the fringes of Maiduguri metropolis, President Muhammad Buhari had phoned him to condole with him on the death of Hauwa, and Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State had led some influential personalities to the house as well. They would, otherwise, not have found him in the favourable emotional setting.
In spite of the condolences and consolations he had been nourished with by no less personalities like the president of his country and the governor of his state, and droves of relations and other mourners, tears streamed down the cheeks of Mohammed Liman during the encounter with reporters.
Liman, the father of Hauwa, the humanitarian worker in Borno who was reportedly killed last Monday by her captors, Boko Haram, began by pleading passionately with the insurgents, wherever they be holed up, to release the corpse of his daughter to give him the certainty that they had indeed killed her, to afford him the invaluable opportunity of catching a final glance at his daughter, and to give he a befitting burial according to Islamic rites. He recalled how his daughter told him that she had chosen to serve humanity; now her ties with the same humanity she had chosen to serve has been severed forever.
Liman then suddenly broke into profuse weeping as he narrated the issues surrounding the death of his daughter. “The family is still at pains to believe that Hauwa is no more; but we must believe that she is no more, because everyone must taste the bitterness of death,” he said.
“They wanted ransom to be paid to free our daughter; they said they would do their best and the president sent a delegation comprising the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who was the head of the delegation, and two others. The delegation went there before her said execution, because we are still not sure they have executed her. I am still not sure that my daughter has been killed. There is still no evidence to prove that she has been killed. They wanted ransom, the deadline before which the ransom had to be paid expired, so they took their dastardly action. But I am still at pains to believe that they have truly done it.”
“I implore them to send to me the corpse of my daughter so that I can see her before I bury her, and minds will be at peace that she is truly no more. The entire family wants to be certain about her death, so we can all reach some sort of closure that she is truly no more,” Liman demanded.
The grieving dad also implored the Federal Government to expressly rescue other captives without any further delay. “I want the government to take immediate action. As it has happened to my daughter, I don’t want it happen to someone else’s daughter. Whatever means must be applied to rescue those in captivity,” he said.
Liman also said, tearfully: “I will always remember her for what she chose to do, to serve humanity. And that will not be forgotten.”
At that point, the atmosphere then turned too emotive for the encounter to continue, and was halted.
Earlier, The Coordinator Civil Society Organizations, Lake Chad Region, Amb. Shehu Ahmed, had commiserated with the relations and family, warning that killings of aid workers may slow down humanitarian support in the Northeast. He said: “The Federal government has to provide a convincing explanation to appease traumatised citizens and opposition groups on its efforts towards preventing the dastardly act. Of course, no organisation or individual will be careless enough to expose themselves to risk. Locals will be sceptical in allowing their families to work in high-risk areas. Somebody somewhere is not doing his work rightly, or something is wrong; hence there is the need to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise or else it is going to be a vicious cycle, especially with the recent unfortunate developments of attacks on the security facilities, and soft targets.”
Amb. Ahmed added: “We are calling on the federal government to step up on its responsibilities of protecting the lives of citizens, especially those that sacrifice their lives for the country. This is the least we expect, and I don’t think our demands are outrageous.”