One of the survivors of penultimate Saturday’s attack by members of the Boko Haram sect on Njimtilo on the outskirts of Maiduguri, Borno State, Pastor Sunday Solomon, shares his near-death experience with KAYODE IDOWU
What happened to you during the attack last Saturday?
I was praying around 12.30am, I heard an unusual movement and I thought I should check what was happening. I came out of my prayer room to the parlour. When I looked through the window, I saw a neighbour, Isaac Dibal, lying down and his wife carrying their baby. I thought to myself perhaps there was nothing strange and wanted to turn back. I felt someone touched my door and when I looked at the door, I saw that the keys in the door turned.
I opened the door to see what was wrong. When I stood at my corridor to check, I saw three men advancing and felt perhaps maybe they forgot to close the gate as some guys in the compound staying in the boys’ quarters always did. I always closed the gate each time they did. I saw those guys advancing towards me; two of them went towards another direction and the one that came to me asked me, ‘Do you know me?’
I boldly told him it was not easy to know him since the whole place was dark.
What did he do next?
He said I should give him my mobile phone and I gave it to him. He said I should sit down and he started speaking to me in Hausa. He asked if I was a Christian or a Moslem. I said, ‘I am a Christian’. He then asked me if I understood Hausa and I said no. He told me that if I didn’t understand Hausa, what about the language I had been using to communicate to him.
I told him it was him that was speaking Hausa to me. He then pointed a gun at me and momentarily faced outside and used Kanuri language to tell his colleagues to come in. Something stirred me to push him and I did. I hit his chest with my feet and he staggered to the floor and screamed. Then, I ran to my flat but before I could get inside, he had regained composure and shot at me.
I was surprised that none of the bullets hit me. I opened the door and headed for the bedroom where my wife and the kids were lying down. I asked my wife to be silent and that we should leave the bedroom with the children to hide somewhere. We went to the toilet, locked it up and hid there.
A few minutes later, they came in and went to the toilet where we were hiding because the toilet is attached to the room. They opened the wardrobe and even one of my children snored loudly but it was a surprise that their attention was not drawn to us. They searched everywhere but not the toilet. They went into the kitchen and after everything, we noticed that they took a crate of boiled eggs and some soft drinks, sat down in the parlour and ate some. They later went to join others
What did you do after they left?
After about two hours when they left our flat, a lady came into my bedroom shouting, “Papa, they have gone. Open the door.
”But in my mind, I said I would not leave the place with my family until daybreak. I thought they might have asked the woman under duress to call us out. I told my wife that we would stay in the toilet until daybreak. They wanted to go away with my car and somehow it refused to start. They also tried other cars but were not able to take them out. When we heard the voices of my other neighbours, I told my wife that it was now safe to come out.
What did your neighbours tell you when you eventually came out with your family from hiding?
I learnt that the insurgents went away with Dibal and four other boys from the boys’ quarter. After some hours, we received a video call telling us that one of the boys escaped. They asked them to lie down and shot at them sporadically. He couldn’t immediately know if the other four were still alive or dead. They shot at his hand and he pretended to be dead and when they left, he found his way to the hospital. The four were later found dead as their corpses were retrieved from the bush about seven kilometres away.