19-year-old mosque attack hero wanted to study Physics
Hassan had dreamt of dying as a martyr, protecting worshipers in a mosque where his foster father, Garba Babayo and seven siblings observe daily prayers at the Buhari Estate in Damaturu, Yobe State.
Many, including his foster mother, were sure of his ambition to study Physics at the Yobe State University, Damaturu. Garba said he was sure that the commitment of his son as a volunteer mosque guard could one day cause them an unforgettable torment.
“I always warned Hassan to be careful while carrying out his duty in the mosque but he said he promised to do the job diligently with his life”, he said.
Recounting their last minute discussion before the bombing in Geidam, Yobe, Garba said: “He accompanied me home immediately after subhi prayers, I asked if he had collected the medical certificate for his pre-degree registration at the university. He said yes, picked it from his room and brought it to me. I scolded him for mishandling it and he quickly apologized.
“In less than a minute, we heard a loud sound, Hassan said he would go out to see what was happening at the mosque. Before I could follow him, another deafening sound went off from the mosque’s direction. A neighbour called to tell me that my son struggled with the bomber and they both died”, he said.
Garba said the trauma he had after seeing the mutilated body of his son would continue to remain with him.
“His body was scattered on the ground, his head was cut off, and other parts of his body were scattered on the street. These sleepers you see are the ones he wore”, he said, pointing to the blast scene.
He described Hassan as a brilliant, fearless, smart and patient person who wanted to be a graduate of Physics.
“I adopted him as a threeyear-old orphan shortly after the death of his parents, since then I loved him, he was very religious and intelligent and always looking out for where he could please me. That endeared him more to me”, he said.
He said many of them thought it was the military testing their weapons when the first bomb exploded.
“The military had announced that people shouldn’t panic because they would test their weapons. We all thought the sound was from the military until my neighbour called to break the sad news. My wife was mad about the incident, profusely crying and accusing the military of testing their weapons off target, but a witness confirmed seeing how Hassan was held tightly by the suicide bomber and both were blown off”, he added.
He said the military men around consoled her before she returned home in despair.
“My son has gone for good, God destined him to die this way and we have accepted it. Whoever Hassan owed should not hesitate to come to me, I will pay”, he said.
His brother, Mohammed, also described Hassan as patient and very committed.
“I wasn’t surprised; Hassan was fearless and believed in whatever he did. He told us many times that he would not give in to any Boko Haram threat, especially in the course of protecting lives in the mosque”.
He lamented that the suicide bomber who wrestled his brother had left many people in anguish.
Hassan was a teacher at the community Islamic School where he started teaching after graduating from the Nana Aisha College of Islamic Theology in Damaturu. He was such a jovial person whom almost everyone loved. Malam Aminu Gaidam, a neighbour who witnessed the incident, said Hassan greeted him and rushed towards the mosque when the bomber arrived.
Late Hassan (r) with his friend
Some of the injured receive treatment at the hospital
Garba Babayo, Hassan’s foster father
The mosque targeted by the bomber