- “We live in fear”
The traditional ruler of the Hausa community in Orlu, Sarki Ali Hussain, has painted a detailed picture of the attack by suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that left seven northern traders dead in Orlu area of Imo State.
One of the victims was his son, who left behind a wife and four children.
IPOB gunmen reportedly shot dead the traders in two separate attacks on Friday and Saturday, as the victims were plying their trade in markets in the area.
Three suya sellers were killed in the first attack which happened in Orlu and four others were also shot dead the following day at Umuaka.
All the victims were from Sokoto State, according to the leaders of the Hausa community in Imo.
Speaking to Dateline Nigeria, Sarki Hussain who hails from Rumbuje village in Gwadabwa Local Government of Sokoto State, said his son, Muhammmad Sarki Ali Hussain, was killed in the Saturday attack for no justifiable reason.
Sarki Hussain, who took the traditional title after settling down in Orlu decades ago when he retired from the Nigerian Army, said his son, who was 40 at the time he was killed, was selling suya alongside his friend, Saminu Isa, when the attackers stormed the area.
The father said the gunmen first shot his son in the head. “Seeing that his friend had been shot dead, Isa took to his heels but the gunmen chased after him and shot him in the stomach,” the Sarkin Hausawa narrated.
When the news of the incident got to him around 10pm, Sarki Hussain went to the police and asked for officers to escort him to go retrieve the bodies. “The police told us the area was not safe for them to go that night that we should wait until morning,” he told Dateline Nigeria.
“When we recovered the corpses in the morning, we discovered that the bullet ripped open my son’s skull and when he was being moved, his brain splatted on the ground. It was a close-range shot.
“His friend had a bullet wound that tore open his stomach, disgorging his intestines,” he said.
Shells of AK-47 ammunition littered the scene were the bodies laid, he explained.
He said the remains had since been buried. “The police wanted the corpses deposited at the mortuary but I told them since none of the attackers was arrested, there is no need keeping the bodies in the mortuary. So they allowed us to bury them,” he added.
His son left behind a wife and four children while his friend left one wife and two children.
Another victim of the Saturday attack in the same area had two wives and 11 children.
‘We live in fear’
The traditional ruler, who told Dateline Nigeria that he oversees the affairs of Hausa people residing in 12 local governments in Imo State, expressed fear that attacks on northerners in Orlu are becoming regular and those affected have started fleeing the area back to the North.
“People have been leaving and even today (Monday), many people have left for home in the North and more will still go. We live in fear. I would have gone too but because of my military background,” he said.
IPOB members, according to him, were being suspected for the attacks which he said had claimed 12 northerners, so far.
He said the presence of military personnel notwithstanding, the gunmen still lunch attacks owing to the secretive nature of their activities.
“This is not the first time the Hausa community in Orlu is coming under attack, as about four weeks ago, four people were shot and killed and our mosque was vandalized. That was not even the first time they were attacking the mosque, it was vandalized earlier,” he said.