For Temitope Mustapha, a Voice of Nigeria, VON, journalist, it was certainly a narrow escape from death by lynching during the Kaduna crisis while on her way to keep a professional appointment. Grateful to be alive, she tells on her Facebook page the story of her escape from what can be likened as the valley of the shadow of death.
PASSING through Kaduna State on Sunday, October 21, 2018, to connect to Kano State for a two-day Media Dialogue on Equity for the Girl Child Education, I never thought would end up bloody for me. It was about 4:35pm. Twice this gentleman who was in the same car with me woke me up and said: “Madam stay awake”. But it was a difficult thing to do. I had written stories the previous night before I embarked on this journey. Again this man woke me up and said: “Madam please stay awake”.
Temitope after she was rescued
Then I opened my eyes and saw some military officers seated in their vehicles. Suddenly, a fellow passenger said: “Madam we have been making calls to know the safest road”. I said you mean this road is safe for us? They answered yes. Suddenly at Kaduna By-Pass, I saw a trailer blocking the road and traffic was building up and the driver of the car I boarded beckoned on and spoke to one of the youths holding an iron rod. He responded in Hausa language which another passenger translated to me, saying that he wanted to find another route out of By-Pass.
But some of the iron rod-wielding young men sighted me and moved towards the car. The driver started pleading with them, saying: Da Allah ki ya kuri. I was the only female in the car and extremely unusual of me my dressing included an headtie (turban).
Race of my life
The youngmen who were more than 15 and can best be described as miscreants started hitting the side of the car. I was stunned and couldn’t say one word of prayer. I didn’t panic and was ready to run the race of my life.
My fellow passengers immediately took to their heels from the front door and the left door side. But when I opened the right side door, I was confronted by men holding iron rods and stones. I started running towards an uncompleted building even as my headtie fell off. But with heavy stones landing on my back and long metallic objects hitting my body, I turned and thought of crossing the gutters at Kaduna By-Pass.
I fell down under the hail of stones landing on my body. Then I watched myself being lynched. Nobody dared stop these youths from stoning me or made efforts to rescue me from their hands. I actually saw one of them video-recording what they were doing to me. Sincerely I was gasping for breath. Death is painful.
At a point I was no longer feeling the impact of the iron rods on my body and also not hearing the sound of the stones. All I was hearing inside my head as if coming from a mega phone was: Jesus is Lord! I was seeing the faces of my mother, my son and my daughter all at thesame time. And somehow I kept hearing in my head that all they were doing was not up to labour pains.
I crawled inside the gutters. Of course, I was already almost inside the gutters by By-Pass. I felt peace in my body and I found solace inside the gutters. I saw these youths gathered on the other side. I saw in a blur a crowd of men watching me. And I saw clearly one of them carrying a stone with his two hands right over me, I raised up one hand pleading with him. That was the last I saw.
Heavy sleep overpowered me
Heavy and deep sleep came over me and overpowered me. I didn’t know what happened next; I could not tell what,where and anything about me again. I was completely switched off. That was until I woke up at AMRULLAH Hospital (also along Kaduna By-pass )on a stretcher. I started talking, telling them I am a Journalist with Voice of Nigeria and I was only passing by Kaduna State to attend a Media Dialogue in Kano State. I attempted standing from the stretcher my body didn’t respond. I was asked for phone numbers. Heaven helped me to remember my younger sister’s number and the father of my children’s number.
After my rescue, about six drips including flagyl and all manner medications were injected into my system. I was revived. Head suturing were done, the young Muslim doctor was crying while suturing my head; hospital attendants were cleaning the stretcher stained with my blood.
The miscreants traced me to the hospital and demanded that the lady brought in should be released by the hospital to be killed. But the staff of this Muslim hospital saved me,hid me from them. I realised I was kept in a ward and locked in with a nurse who was given instructions not to open the ward to anyone whose voice she possibly didnt know. Only the Hospital Manager, the doctor on duty and two nurses were given access to where I was.
I asked the only face I saw When I woke up from the “deep sleep”, I asked the first person I saw, please who brought me here? He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said: “A JTF member brought you life-less. We rejected you because you were not breathing and demanded he should not drop your body with us”.
The AMRULLAH Hospital Manager said: When we refused to take you, the JTF man dropped you on our stretcher and said you could come back; that we should try. AMRULLAH Hospital treated me and stabilised me. Then a thousand-plus calls came on the Hospital Managers’ phone. They said my family members and Colleagues had sleepless night.
VON management stood for me
In the midst of it all, Mr Ahaziah Suleiman, My Executive Director of News, Mr Ben Shemang,Hajia Sani,Hajia Hauwa and even the DG, I heard, all set contacts in motion for my proper care.
VON Kaduna State correspondent suddenly became a mother
Her name is Hajia Asmau, she was the family I saw,she was the colleague on ground, she wept uncontrollably and was still the one consoling herself. I watched Asmau wipe tears several times. This lady risked her life to identify with me in the hospital and carried me in a wheel chair to her house to ensure my safety. Baba, we all call himHajia Asmau’s Husband, was there to carry me from the vehicle to the hospital stretcher. He was there all through beside his wife, fixing my neck most times, pushing the wheel chair. Hajia Asmau’s children all cried uncontrollably and kept asking their mother: “Mummy what did she do to them?”
Again, kudos to my bosses and colleagues
Aisha John Mark, Gloria Essien & Omolayo Alabi all pinned down Prof. Dr Ogrimma, owner of SKILLS HOSPITAL. He was there for VON. Of course curfew did not allow the X-tray operator to be at work. But Dr Ogrimma tried for me. He ensured the fractured hand was well tied and he gave instructions that further saved me.
UNICEF team and Kaduna State govt also cared
I sincerely hail Mr Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF Head Communication Officer, who I learned contacted his colleagues in Kaduna State and informed them of my attack the same night I was revived at AMRULLAH Hospital. Of course UNICEF contacted the Kaduna State government. The Commissioner for Health, Kaduna State, visited the following afternoon of the attack. He later sent an ambulance which took me to government hospital on “ KD State government’s demand” though no bed space as everywhere was already filled with victims.
44 Military Hospital and my fractured hand
The third day of the incidence my Ogas contacted Gen.Buratai’s men to save the situation as there was still curfew and I almost couldn’t walk. A very calm senior army officer reported at Hajia Asmau’s resident with his men the third day and carried me to 44 MILITARY HOSPITAL to attend to my dangling fractured and dislocated hand. The army medical doctors insisted on thorough x-ray, including that of my head.
VON delivered me whole to my family
Spending three days in Kaduna State at the heat of the crisis wasn’t easy at all for my family.(Though Hajia Asmau’s presence created relief for my mother). VON sent an official car with the office nurse and armed men escorted my battered body out of Kaduna town . I was transferred into VON official car at Kaduna Tollgate. I do have a lot to say about Kaduna State October 2018 crises. I think about the safety of Nigerian road users TRAVELLERS in the midst of CRISES across Nigeria???
So many thoughts feeling my sutured head but I sure must put all these thoughts down… That I am Alive … for now, I am grateful to God Almighty.