Has­san Mo­hammed Da­m­agum

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

To­day’s homily is on Has­san Mo­hammed Da­m­agum and so we de­vote the space to him.

Has­san was a 19-year old in­di­gene of Da­maturu, Yobe State. What dis­tin­guished Has­san from his age mates wasn’t the sim­ple, nor­mal de­sire to en­list in the univer­sity and pick a de­gree, no. What was rather unique with Has­san was his chivalry.

On Wed­nes­day, 7th Oc­to­ber, 2015 at the Muham­madu Buhari Hous­ing Es­tate, Da­maturu, Yobe State, Has­san had sensed that the in­di­vid­ual stand­ing next to him was a sui­cide bomber try­ing to kill peo­ple. Has­san must have told him­self, like many of us that it was time to con­front th­ese cal­lous, mur­der­ous in­di­vid­u­als spread­ing death among the in­no­cent. On this day, our 19-year old Has­san did the un­think­able: he chal­lenged the sui­cide bomber. The bomber, de­ter­mined to die with any other per­son that vol­un­teered, held Has­san tightly and then det­o­nated his bomb. He and Has­san in­stantly died.

This gory sight was wit­nessed by none other than Has­san’s fa­ther, Garba Babayo, who nar­rated his ex­pe­ri­ence: “Early this (Wed­nes­day) morn­ing, we heard a heavy sound of a bomb and my son said he would go out and see what was hap­pen­ing. It was not long when I also fol­lowed. By the time I came out, I saw him wrestling and strug­gling with the sui­cide bomber. Every­thing just hap­pened like in a speed of light and the bomb went off. When the bomb ex­ploded, I saw my son in pieces with the sui­cide bomber. His head was cut off from his body. His leg was on an­other side and some of his parts were scat­tered on the street.”

Al­to­gether on this day, 18 peo­ple were said to have been killed in mul­ti­ple bomb blasts sus­pected to have been car­ried out by Boko Haram in­sur­gents. More than ten other per­sons were also in­jured in con­tin­u­ing ter­ror at­tacks per­pe­trated on in­no­cent per­sons. In re­cent weeks, the in­sur­gents have come un­der in­creas­ing mil­i­tary bom­bard­ment on land and air and so they are left with soft tar­gets to avenge their losses.

Ini­tially, we un­der­es­ti­mated the Boko Haram in­sur­gency. The Boko Haram evil is rooted par­tic­u­larly in Borno and Yobe States. It’s not a sim­ple mat­ter at all con­sid­er­ing the in­ter­na­tional di­men­sion it has taken. Boko Haram con­tin­ues wan­ton de­struc­tion of hu­man life and prop­erty not just in Nige­ria but also in Chad, Camer­oun and Niger. It’s amaz­ing that de­spite the se­ri­ous mil­i­tary ac­tion that has jointly been car­ried out against them in re­cent months by the coun­tries men­tioned above, mem­bers of the Boko Haram group still have the nerves to con­tinue deadly bomb­ings against the cit­i­zens of th­ese coun­tries.

This year has seen a lot of blood­let­ting by the in­sur­gents. Last month, about 117 peo­ple were killed by sui­cide bombers in the out­skirts of Maiduguri, just as an­other 48 per­sons were killed and 99 in­jured, all in the same state. Last week­end, they struck again in Dar vil­lage, in Mada­gali Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, where they killed 12 per­sons. The Nige­ria So­cial Vi­o­lence Dataset pre­pared by the John Hop­kins Univer­sity School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies (SAIS) puts the num­ber of deaths at more than 11,100 since the es­ca­la­tion of Boko Haram ac­tiv­i­ties in July 2009.

It’s doubt­ful if Boko Haram can be com­pletely an­ni­hi­lated by the end of De­cem­ber as Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari di­rected. Ev­ery time there’s some lull in their mur­der­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and you think their back has been bro­ken, they come up with fresh new at­tacks against soft tar­gets. Yes, the group’s abil­ity to move in groups and take ter­ri­tory as they were do­ing in 2014 may be cur­tailed, but how do you stop a de­ter­mined sui­cide bomber who dresses and be­haves al­most like ev­ery­one around? How do you check the mur­der­ous ac­tiv­ity of an im­pres­sion­able mind of teenage girls sold on the be­lief that they have a short cut to heaven if they are able to det­o­nate bombs on the “en­emy”?

They could be stopped in schools where pupils and staff are all reg­is­tered and iden­ti­fi­able and their sur­round­ings en­closed. But how do you stop a sui­cide bomber that stealth­ily comes to the mar­ket feign­ing to buy the same stuff you have come to buy? How do you stop a sui­cide bomber that comes to the mosque pre­tend­ing to wor­ship God like you, whereas his in­ten­tion is to snuff life out of other wor­ship­pers when they put their fore­heads to the ground? Per­haps, if the wor­ship­pers pray in turns and look af­ter them­selves, they can suc­ceed against th­ese wicked sui­cide bombers in smaller mosques but is it some­thing you can repli­cate in big­ger mosques that spill over with wor­ship­pers?

The de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme is also very vi­tal in the drive to end Boko Haram ter­ror­ism. As long as the ter­ror­ists have ac­cess to our youths, they will con­tinue to brain­wash them to take up arms against cit­i­zens. We must take steps to ed­u­cate and cre­ate em­ploy­ment for our youths in or­der to dis­suade them from ac­cept­ing the teach­ings of Boko Haram.

We should also herorise the coura­geous men and women, ala Has­san Mo­hammed Da­m­agum, who iden­tify and con­front th­ese sui­cide bombers try­ing to en­ter our schools, mar­kets, mosques and mo­tor parks with in­tent to kill, maim and de­stroy. For sac­ri­fic­ing his life to chal­lenge a sui­cide bomber and pre­vent­ing him from killing oth­ers at Muham­madu Buhari Es­tate, Da­maturu, Yobe State, Has­san Mo­hammed Da­m­agum, de­serves our ad­mi­ra­tion as well as sup­port for the loved ones he left be­hind.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.