On New Year’s day, a nine-year-old schoolboy in Katsina State, Jawad, was reportedly shot dead by a policeman during a mayhem. In this interview with OLAIDE OYELUDE, the father of the slain minor, Yusuf Ahmed-Rufai, expresses his grief and demand for justice
Briefly tell us about yourself.
I am Yusuf Ahmed-Rufai. I am 42 years old and from Katsina State. I am a civil servant. I am the father of Jawad, the nine-year-old boy, who was killed by a policeman, Sergeant Nura, at Sabuwar Unguwar on Sunday, January 1, 2023.
In what circumstances did the policeman kill your son?
My boy went to his Islammiya school that our people call Makaranta Alo. He always went there every day. He would go there at 4pm on returning from the conventional school. He was attending Ibn Kuluthum Nursery and Primary School. The school closes at 6pm and on returning home, he would trek to the Arabic school, commonly called Makaranta Alo, because it is a walking distance from our house at Filin Canada.
On that Sunday (sobs), Jawad left home for the Arabic school around 4pm and was on his way back home shortly after 6 pm after closing at the school. It was on his way back home that the sergeant shot him. What sympathisers told me was that there was a pre-wedding party going on in a house at Sabuwa Unguwar on that day and a deejay was playing music.
I learnt that Sergeant Nura initially went to the house alone and told the deejay to stop playing music. He was there alone. Following the refusal of the people having the party to heed Sergeant Nura’s order, he left the house only for him to come back with some vigilantes and not with any police patrol team, as claimed. He and the vigilantes then started packing the musical instruments. Those around said this infuriated the organisers of the party, who then started making fun of him. It was then that he fired a gunshot resulting in the death of my boy, who was walking home alone. Initially , Jawad fell down after the bullet him. As I learnt, the bullet hit him from his back. It was the sympathisers who then carried him to the hospital where he died later.
There was no clash between the police patrol team and the hoodlums, as some reports claimed. Sergeant Nura went there alone and my boy was the fourth person his bullet hit on that day.
You said Jawad, your son, was not the only one hit by bullets. How many other people were shot?
Jawad was the fourth person that the bullet hit on that day. There was a boy in our neighbourhood here. His name is Abdul Jamiu. A bullet cut his two fingers on the right hand. The boy is a 300 Level Agriculture student at the Federal College of Education, Katsina here and he was supposed to begin his examination today (Monday, January 9, 2023). He had also been offered a place in the Nigeria Navy and he was supposed to go for an interview, which he could not go for because of the incident. There was another boy whose neck was broken when the bullet hit him. The third boy had his intestines ripped open by the bullet. However, it was only Jawad that died. Jawad died vomiting blood. He also vomited his heart before he died. He was admitted at the Federal Teaching Hospital shortly after he was shot. Sympathisers rushed him and others to the hospital. A neighbour who was among the sympathisers called me to say that Jawad had been shot and that they had taken him to the hospital. The neighbour also called his mother to inform him about the incident. I rushed down to the hospital and the mother joined us there too. At the hospital, a doctor briefed me about his condition and promised that they would do what they could to save him. I later left the hospital to come down home and take care of the other children while his mother stayed behind at the hospital.
Just a few seconds after 4am the following morning (Monday), the mother called me to say that Jawad died at exactly 4 am. I then left for the hospital to collect his corpse. The death certificate issued to me at the hospital attributed the primary cause of his death to spinal cord injury via gunshot while the secondary cause was attributed to hemorrhage.
I collected Jawad’s corpse and headed for Sabon Gari Police Station that morning. I met the DCO, Aliyu Kangiwa. He immediately contacted the Area Commander, who expressed his condolences. From what I observed at that police station, they were not aware of the incident until when I took Jawad’s corpse there. Thereafter, I brought the corpse home for burial and we buried him at exactly 11am on that day (Monday). Do you know that as at time we buried Jawad, two bullets were still lodged inside his body (weeps).
The DCO later came to console us, promising that the officer involved would be arrested. The PPRO ( Police Public Relations Officer), SP Gambo Isah, also came on Tuesday and he condoled with us on behalf of the Commissioner of Police. He also told us that a full investigation would be conducted on the incident.
How did your other children receive the news of Jawad’s death?
Jawad was my firstborn. He was born on October 28, 2013 after our marriage in 2012. After him, we had three other children, a boy and two girls. I have only one wife and that is Jawad’s mother, Safaatu, and she is the mother of all our four children.
When I told the other children about Jawad’s death, they all broke down in tears and wept uncontrollably. But what moved me most was what happened shortly after his death. When Jawad was alive, he would be the first to wake up in the morning and he would always wake up his siblings for early morning prayers. So, shortly after his death, his mother went to wake up the other children for the morning prayers the following day. The children were sad as that was what Jawad used to do and they broke down in tears again. I had to summon courage to console both the mother and the children, reminding them that Jawad was gone for good.
What kind of child was Jawad to you and the mother when alive?
Jawad’s other name was Muhammed. So, at times, we addressed him as Muhammed Jawad. He was a very gentle boy. He was easygoing and took both his Western and Islamic education seriously. He was a very considerate boy and loved by his colleagues at school. Despite the fact that he was in Primary One in his school since he had his kindergarten and nursery at the school, his teacher and other colleagues knew that he had the ambition of becoming a soldier in life. This is because there was a day their class teacher was asking all of them what they wanted to become in life and Jawad told him that he wanted to become a soldier. And when the teacher asked him why, he said he would want to protect the country.
Will you be seeking a legal redress or demanding compensation either from the police or from the government for Jawad’s death?
Even if I demand the whole world for Jawad’s death, will that bring him back? My appeal is to our father, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, and the Commissioner of Police to assist us and ensure that Jawad’s killer is punished. Jawad himself would want justice for his death. The culprit must be brought to book in earnest.