Twenty-four-year-old Margaret Musa, one of the survivors of the April 22, 2019 incident where an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps rammed his car into an Easter procession of Boys’ Brigade members, shares her experience with CHIMA AZUBUIKE
Can you recall the incident that left you critically injured in one of your legs?
My colleagues and I converged on the Union Bank roundabout before proceeding towards the Sabon line area of the metropolis where a driver, who was identified as an official of the NSCDC, refused to vacate the lane we were on and instead dropped off a female companion in the car with him, turned off the headlight and crushed as many as 10 people. We were Boys’ Brigade members from Evangelical Church Winning All II, Barunde, Madaki, Bogo, Church of Christ in Nations, and Anglican Church. I was part of the procession of the Easter rally where we were singing praise to God for another Easter celebration before the incident occurred.
I was with my colleagues observing the yearly Easter procession between 10pm and 11pm at Anguwan Sabon Layi, opposite Chimac Enterprise when the reckless driver who came from behind us without a headlight ran over us. He was later identified as Ukasha, a member of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. The NSCDC official attempted to break the religious procession but was initially resisted. He was said to have been eventually allowed to drive through the procession in a bid to avoid trouble. But unhappy at not being accorded ‘special’ respect by the group, he vowed to return in a severe form after dropping off a female friend in his car. At full throttle and with a mind spoilt for violence, he rammed his vehicle into our group mostly made up of teenagers. By the time the tyres of the car came to a halt, 10 young people were lifeless on the ground while dozens of others, at least 30 people, wailed in agony following injuries they sustained.
How did you survive the incident, knowing that about 10 of your colleagues died?
It was the grace of God because up till now, I still cannot explain specifically how I survived. However, a full report was not made available to me but all my attention was on the friends, family and colleagues that died on the spot. I give God the glory because, through Him, I am still alive. Sometimes, when I look at myself, I begin to wonder how and why God chose to keep me alive, but I’m very grateful to God. I survived this incident by His grace; in fact, I don’t even know how I got to the hospital. I only realised that I was in the hospital with policemen around us, some family members who got the information and those that came to console us after they heard about the tragic incident.
Do you sometimes remember your colleagues that died?
I always remember them: Joseph Daniel, Keziah Amos, Sunday Gurnet, Ruth Samanja, Joseph Danjuma Gavan, Jesse Baka and Joseph Samso. I remember the good times we shared while growing in our organisation. I remember some of them with their dreams of becoming successful in life. Yes, I remember how we were singing praises to God, giving Him thanks for the salvation of souls. It is almost impossible not to remember them because we shared things in common; we were in the same brigade. That I won’t meet or see them again is worrisome. However, who am I to question God, the Almighty and the giver of life? I will always remember the deceased, especially during the Easter period, the usual time for such a procession. As you already know, Easter in 2019 was the time the ugly incident occurred.
How did your family take the news of what happened?
They felt very bad when they heard of the incident. They were perplexed because they were scared thinking I was one of those that died. My people didn’t find it easy but they thanked God for the life of their daughter, especially when they finally saw me. Yes, they were worried after they saw my leg, but having recalled those that passed, they had every cause to thank God. Initially, their thought was that they might not see me alive but upon sighting me, they became calm and appreciative to God for preserving my life.
Have you ever wished that you and those that died were not part of the Easter procession or perhaps that it was cancelled or postponed?
No, this is a yearly programme and you cannot separate Easter procession in this part of the country from Christianity. In fact, I wish I was healthier; I would have been part of it any day, any time. I have never wished not to be part of the Easter procession or for the procession to be cancelled or postponed. Even with the condition that I find myself in now, I have never regretted being part of it (the procession). If something is destined to happen, it will surely happen. Perhaps it was ordained or the man allowed himself to be the object of destruction and he succeeded.
So, for a fact, I have never wished that the procession was rescheduled or never held. We have confidence in Christ Jesus, our faith’s author and finisher. God is good and everything that He created is good. Regrets are for losers, it is just painful that someone trained and paid with taxpayers’ money could allow himself to be an object of destruction. Indeed, the man destroyed many lives; the most painful part was the young ones with glorious futures.
How old were you when the incident occurred?
When the incident occurred, I was 20 years old.
Are you married?
I got married on December 5, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Were there plans that the incident robbed you of?
Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the incident was a very tragic one. It came with hurt, and it changed the way I view life and issues. On the other hand, no, in the sense that no man can alter the plans and purposes of God for our lives, no matter the challenges. I believe in God for a job after my education. Coincidentally, I loved the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps but after the incident, I just hated the work because the person that inflicted the pain I am going through was their employee. Presently, I cannot stand up for an hour let alone carrying a heavy load. Honestly, I wish it (the incident) didn’t happen. I find my domestic chores difficult.
What was th Government’s response to the incident?
I would like to commend the past administration; there was a quick response by the state government to provide us with adequate treatment. They made it available through the Ministry of Health. We were taken care of by the former governor, Dr Ibrahim Dankwambo, who then paid our fees. But the services couldn’t continue because we were made to understand that the resources were mopped up by the current administration without our full recovery (from injuries). The government promised to take care of our medical expenses. Those who sustained injuries among us were discharged to go home and return for a check-up recently. Soon, we discovered that the money released for our treatment was returned by the Ministry of Health, as it was said that we had recovered. The then deputy governor, Charles Iliya, played his part very well. He came to the State Specialist Hospital to check on us and a directive was given to the Ministry of Health to treat all victims immediately. Another directive was given to all security agencies to investigate the incident and they did.
It has been two years now of suffering this pain in the leg. It has not been easy coping with the challenges that come with my affected leg. Doing things with this leg has given me excruciating pain. Sadly, it reminds me of the incident of the last four years that my family members and I are trying to forget.
It has been four years since the incident happened. Has the injury healed?
I was treated to the point that I thought I was very okay but along the line, things began to get worse as if I was never at the hospital for that same treatment. I was treated. However, I have been going through a lot of pain for the past two years. With the swelling of the leg, I cannot walk properly. I find it difficult to walk from time to time.
Which hospital have you visited for your treatment so far?
I have visited a clinic and the Orthopaedic and Trauma Care in Gombe State because I couldn’t bear the pain and the swelling of the leg as it affects the way I walk. The challenges are my inability to stand up for about an hour, and not being able to carry any heavy object because it will affect the leg. There is swelling in the ankle and severe pain. It has to a large extent affected my productivity at home because I find it difficult to do chores that ordinarily do not take me too much time to round off. It is sad. It is painful that things I can easily do are being done for me by my husband. I must say that he has been helpful to me, knowing my condition and joining me to fight it. I must add that he has shown a level of understanding and tolerance.
Doctors claimed you had ankle arthrodesis. How true is the claim?
Yes, the consultants said after their clinical and radiological evaluations, a diagnosis of medial malleolar fracture was made. I’m preparing for an ankle arthrodesis surgery and the cost of surgery, admission, implant, physiotherapy, drugs, consumables, anaesthesia, professional fee, operational fee and the dressing was put at N350,000.
It has been difficult to raise the money. That is causing the delay of the surgery. It has been the stumbling block to the operation. My husband has been working assiduously to see that we raise the funds but to no avail and I’m going through serious pains. We have been meeting those we know to solicit help so that we can get the needed medical attention. People are always crying that there is no money. Some will sit down, listen to the whole story and say things are hard now. I feel we don’t love one another but if I fall and die, people will contribute more than the said amount.
Many may be surprised why raising the money has been difficult. What is your husband’s occupation?
He works in a restaurant as a caterer.
Have you been doing anything to earn a living?
I’m not doing anything at the moment. I attended Government Day Secondary School, Orji. I have my Senior Secondary Certificate Examination result. I have yet to go further for now.
What kind of assistance did you get before now?
Nothing at the moment as my request has been made to the church and individuals but no substantial help has come forth. I have yet to get any support from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to treat myself since the pain began two years ago. We wrote letters to individuals, churches and organisations and believed that they would respond in due time but no response yet as the Gombe State Government is not aware of the new development.
How has life been for you generally after the incident?
It has not been easy; I am always thanking God and I know that His grace is sufficient for me. Sometimes, I feel like getting the leg amputated. I am confident that I will be well. We give God the glory, but to be honest, it has not been easy. The pain I go through is better imagined than felt by anyone. I believe that after the surgery, I will be whole again to continue with life activities, especially the role of taking care of my baby and my husband.
My plea to the Gombe State Government, especially to my governor, Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya, is to come to my rescue and support me financially so that I can have the surgery. I will be grateful if he comes to my aid because it has not been easy since February 2023 when the doctors examined my situation and insisted that surgery was the best option. However, it has been an uphill task to gather the money. I know the state governor is a good leader with a huge love for his people. He should please come to my rescue and help me financially with the surgery.
Have you forgiven Ukasha, the alleged killer of your colleagues?
I have forgiven him; even the Bible says we should forgive anyone who offends us, though my colleagues died in the unfortunate incident. For me, the man didn’t know what he was doing. I forgive him.
Would you have supported his lynching?
If I were conscious, I would never have allowed it to happen. It was when I regained consciousness that I was told about the lynching of the man. I would never have supported that.