Jalingo — It was a sunny November afternoon and the Jalingo main market was bustling with noise of buyers hassling with sellers, when suddenly, a gun shot rent through the air and the crowd started running helter skelter, scampering for safety.
Sanusi Bello Ahmed, a taxi driver, was the target and the bullet ripped through his neck and he slumped, blood gushing out of the bullet wound. He was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre Jalingo but he could not make it there alive, he died on the way, leaving behind, a wife and three boys.
Angry youths besieged the market, demonstrating against the alleged cold blooded murder of the taxi driver by an armed soldier, who, according to eyewitnesses, had trailed the late Ahmed from Road Block area of the town up to the market, where he brazenly shot him to death.
The irate youths almost had a brush with the soldiers, who were in a military van, but they were restrained by market authorities and some elders of the locality who could clearly see that the soldiers would not have any scruples about gunning many more people down.
An eye witness, Salisu Adamu told our correspondent that the 40-year-old taxi driver had brushed the military van in which the soldiers were patrolling in at Road block area of the town and the soldiers trailed him to the market area, which was his destination and first fired at one of the tires of the red Toyota starlet car he was driving and then the windscreen before shooting him in the neck.
Police had confirmed the incident. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Lawan Shehu, told Sunday Trust that the police met with top military brass in the state and the matter was being investigated. He however, said the army claimed that the taxi driver was a suicide bomber.
He said the soldier who shot the driver had not been arrested as the police were still searching for him. He explained that the soldiers were in transit and could not be easily located. He called for the public to remain calm as the police and the military in the state were doing all they could to resolve the issue without rancor.
Meanwhile, the widow of the slain taxi driver is crying out for justice. The 28-year-old Fatima Sanusi who had grief and pain written all over her told our correspondent that Sunday, November 12th 2012, would forever remain in her memory as the cruelest day in her life. She said it was hard to believe that her husband died in such a brutal manner.
She said life will no longer be the same for her and her three boys again as her late husband was the breadwinner of the family. "How could I ever think one day of having to take this burden of looking after these boys on my shoulders. It's unimaginable what we will go through without him. I had always been a house wife all these years. I don't have my trade or work with which to earn a living and now, suddenly, I have the responsibility of feeding the children and his aged mother and paying the children's school fees. Where am I going to start and how are we going to end...its such a wicked world," she burst into tears.
She said, sobbing at intervals, that it is unfortunate that Nigeria is turning into a jungle where the strongest beasts devour the weakest. According to her, if that wasn't the case, then the soldier who shot her husband in cold blood couldn't have walked away freely.
"We are looking up to God for justice otherwise it is clear that the poor and weak do not ever get justice in Nigeria. Imagine that no official of the authorities has come to us to even condole us. It is as if my husband was a criminal and he died for his crimes. It is a shame that the soldiers are now claiming he was a suicide bomber. Can anyone come out and say bombs were found in his car? If that person who shot my husband in cold blood on the pretence that he was a suicide bomber knows God let him come out with the evidence and prove his case," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"If we had the means to pursue justice we would have asked for compensation because we cannot move on without him. He was everything for us and I am particularly sad for the boys because their future now looks bleak. Besides me and the three kids he had his 60-year-old mother and three of his younger brothers as dependants. It is really hard for us but we believe in God and we also believe that he will take care of us," she said.
A friend of the deceased, Hamman Joda Mohammed, said Angwan Mafindi area of Jalingo is yet to recover from the gruesome murder of his friend, who was loved by many because he was a jovial man.
"I miss him greatly because he was a good friend. The whole community too misses him and it will take time before we will recover from the shock of his brutal death. It was so sudden nobody expected. We pray that justice will be done to the family," he said.