A relation of General Muhammed Shuwa, who was killed 2 November by gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram has revealed how the General died.
The story he related is different materially from the one given by Lt. Colonel Sagir Musa, spokesman of the Joint Task Force, in a statement issued on the day that the General was killed.
This is what Sagir Musa said: “At about 12 noon today at General Muhammadu Shuwa (Rtd) house in Gwange 1 area of Maiduguri metropolis, while the General was seated in his house with some guests, four men initially thought to be his visitors and guests for the Jumaat prayers entered his house and opened fire on the General and his guests. One of the guests died on the spot while the general died on the way to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. The JTF troops located in the area immediately cordoned off the area and search for the assailants is ongoing to apprehend the terrorists. The terrorists that carried out the killing of the late General will be brought to book. We call on the citizens to bring forward information that will assist the security agencies to apprehend the terrorists.”
On the contrary, a relation of the General, Dr. Hassan Bashir said the late General was sitting outside of his house, awaiting a person he had sent to buy a razor blade for him, when the gunmen came calling. And there were between seven to 10 soldiers on guard duty as the shooting happened. The soldiers as Bashir said did nothing to protect the Civil war veteran.
There is controversy surrounding the killing of General Shuwa on Friday, 2nd November, 2012. Can you tell us what actually happened on that day?
I spoke to him on Wednesday, 31st October, 2012. I told him that I have had enough here in Nigeria and I would like to go back to the US. He told me that actually he had done his best to make me settle here but it appears to be a very difficult situation and therefore said I should go back. All the time, the General will call and ask of my whereabouts and my welfare. On Friday, he went outside his house and sent for a shaving razor blade. He sent one Adam to buy it for him and he then sat on a chair outside the house, waiting for the razor blade. At that very time, some boys, our relatives were sitting together with him as he was waiting for the arrival of the razor blade. Then there was a gentleman, a passerby that saw the General sitting outside. He therefore approached him in order to offer Fatiha (a tradition in Borno whereby indigents recite some verses of the Quran in front of affluent people and get a little money in return).
As he was reciting the Fatiha, three armed men appeared and took position, two on the western side of the General and one on the eastern side, facing the soldiers that were guarding the General. They were all armed with AK 47 rifles. There was a huge tree close to where the General was sitting and a fountain of water under it. As the two armed men approached him, they began chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and started shooting. One irony is that whenever the General was going out of his house, he went with a gun. He always sat with a gun and goes everywhere with a gun. However, on that very day and hour, he did not go out with the gun. Instead, he locked the door of the room where the gun was and put the key in his pocket and went outside.
As the two men were chanting Allahu Akbar and shooting, the passerby that was reciting Fatima attempted to stand up but the gunmen shot him and he collapsed. Then the General said a word in Shuwa Arab, “Hou” roughly translated as “What?” in English language. Then one of the men looked at the General and shot him and was trying to refill the Ak47 rifle again. That was when the General stood up and put his hand inside his pocket, thinking that he will bring out his gun but instead, brought out the keys to his room. On realizing this, he attempted to grab the man that shot him. When the other gunman saw what the General was trying to do, he shot his two arms.
The General’s arms and one of the bullets penetrated his ribs and hit the heart directly.
Was the General able to grab one of them?
No, he was not. He was making attempt to catch one of them when the other one shot him in the chest, precisely at the epical line where the heart lies. And when he shot the heart, the General fell and both of them continued shooting him. They pushed him with their legs and confirmed that he was dead. They then started shouting and jubilating and entered their tricycle.
Before then, the General’s most senior wife was trying to go out of the house when she heard gunshots. As she peeped outside, she saw her husband and the passerby on ground. She wanted to go and embrace him but was prevented [by relatives]. This is when the third gunman who was across the other part of the road started shooting at her but she was very lucky, the bullets did not hit her. She later went and embraced her dead husband. Again, when one of the boys that was sitting outside found out that the General was not with his gun, he rushed into the house in order to get the gun but found out that the door of the parlour was locked and he could not get in. When you go outside this house (General Shuwa’s house) you will find out that there is an umbrella…a tent where the General normally sits and you will see the many holes created by bullets.
Were there no military guards in the house?
There were about eight or ten soldiers guarding this house (the General’s house).
But where were they when the gunmen came?
They were right there at their post in front of the house but none of them could show any resistance or stand and make any effort. There was another girl who is also our relation. She was in the General’s second house which was close by. She told me that when the shooting was going on, she had wanted to go out and grab one of the gunmen, exactly what the General’s wife also wanted to do. They wanted to at least obstruct the gunmen but they were grabbed by other relatives. Unfortunately, the soldiers outside could not do anything. If any of the soldiers had made any shooting, I think the life of the General could have been saved. And apart from the soldiers that had been stationed in the house, there were other soldiers at the cross section of the street. Again, there are many security checkpoints that the gunmen passed through before they came to this house. There was no resistance or effort to stop the gunmen. The General has always been in Maiduguri, he has always been in this vicinity thinking that he has been protected and his life was safe.
I can see that the soldiers are still guarding this house. Have they given any explanation as to why they were unable to repel the attack?
Not to my knowledge but I would like to know if there is any.
When the federal government delegation came from Abuja, did they ask you how the General was killed?
I explained to them in detail and they were very amused that the soldiers were there but no effort was made to save the life of the General, despite the fact that the purpose of stationing them here was to protect his life. Why there was no shouting, no shooting, nothing? How can something like this happen to a war hero? Someone that spent all his life to protect this country and keep it united? I would like to know why he was killed this way before me too vanishes from this world.
Are you happy that the soldiers are still stationed outside this house and do you see them as protecting the family?
Look, the family is gone! Which family are they protecting again? The head of the very family has vanished. Have they (the soldiers) not received orders from the high authorities to protect him? I don’t know… may be they have some commanders that did not give them orders to protect the General. Or maybe they don’t have weapons or their weapons are inferior to that of the gunmen, I don’t know.
How many soldiers were there when the gunmen came?
Between seven and ten and the gunmen were three in number. They did the shooting and left. The gunmen were even screaming and laughing and jubilating. It was women that were trying to protect General. The women told me that if not because they were pulled back, they would have obstructed the shooting. His wife said she was pushed to the ground. This was what happened.
Now let’s talk about his life. Who was General Mamman Shuwa?
I can say General Mamman Shuwa was born as a soldier, he lived in this world as soldier and he died as a soldier.
Now, can we believe the JTF that they have arrested the real killers of General Shuwa?