19-year-old mosque at­tack hero wanted to study Physics

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From Hamisu Kabir Matazu, Da­maturu

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

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