The unfortunate incident of Monday night in the second largest town in Adamawa State, Mubi was an experience you cannot wish even your worst enemy.
As a lecturer in one of the many educational institutions in Mubi, the previous three months in Mubi, which were marked with spontaneous shootings and bombings made life difficult.
The situation got to the level that Christians and people of southern extraction started moving from places with more problems to those presumed to have more Christians and vice versa. Wuro Puteji, with its high concentration of churches and many people from the minorities such as Higgi, Marghi, Fali etc, looked a reasonable alternative with its high population of students, making it look neutral and having a balanced mix.
Yours truly moved into this set up which had hitherto history of a share in any of the casualities resulting from all the recent carnages being experienced in this economic nerve centre of Adamawa State. Monday night, I drove back early with my family from Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, where we spent the long weekend with the aim of beating the 3:00pm curfew imposed on the town (not knowing its being dropped to 6:00pm).
We got to Mubi on time and were surprised to note that there were no checkpoints, although Song, Gombi, Hong and Marraraba, these checkpoints were there days earlier when the JTF carried out its massive house to house checks resulting in arrests and discovery of weapons.
Driving into town our confidence in the security of the town was reinforced with the sight of combat- ready mobile policemen and some soldiers. But we also noted a large contingent of military personnel being moved out of town. "By 7:00pm that evening, 1 decided to start the generator only to discover it wont start and needed servicing. We decided to listen to evening version of BBC Hausa news broadcast. I later slept off and woke up at some minutes past 10.00pm to use the bathroom.
I went back to bed at 10:34pm, noting that the neighbors had switched off their generators and in the background a male and female voice were singing on SS85 hymn in either Assemblies of God Church nearby or the Redeemed Church opposite the government secondary school across the road where most of the Federal Polytechnics, Mubi and School of Health students lives.
"In an instant the two voices rehearsing went quiet and within a space of a minute or two we heard the loud bang of gunshots Kpa! Kpa!! Kpa!!! And the barking of the many dogs in the neighbourhood along with Sparky my dog. My wife woke up noting how close the shots were.
We sat up in bed thinking it was the usual shoot one, two and run away thing or soldiers registering their presence especially as there was curfew and no persons were to wander about whether on foot or in vehicles. So, recalling that we heard two or three vehicles drive up on the main street nearby we, concluded it must be the soldiers. But alas! we were in for a long night. Next, the shooting started again this time just about three blocks from my house followed by screams, more shots and dead silence.
"Next two, three minutes later more shots, screams and then silence. I was in a dilemma. My wife moved from the bed to the carpet for fear of things coming through the window (the wall of my house is low.) Against her pleas, I moved to the backyard wondering what will happen next. Across the wall to my right, I heard more shots and turned quickly to see gunfire flashes but nobody except the wailing of children and a woman whom I presume to be their mother.
Next, I docked only to hear more shots in the same place and the solo wailing of the lady whom I presumed to be the mother of the children crying earlier. The next rounds of gunshots moved a bit down from my house and brought me only a moment of relief as I wondered where the security personnel on whom we were so much relying were. "Suddenly, just in the compound next to me I heard people screaming (no gunshots) and instant dead silence.
At this point I was sure my house will be the next. My wife and my little girl now joined me in the backyard. I hurried them back into the house and went into prayers. Surprisingly, even with the cling! cling!! cling!!! coming from my gate, the next sound of shooting and wailing came from a compound two blocks to my left and away from me. The most horrifying aspect of this is looking at the time and noting it was just 11:36pm.
Nobody could come out, scream for help or do anything. It was an outright waiting only on God, knowing you are unarmed and defenceless. "Meanwhile, clouds covered the bright moonlight signaling it was going to rain. The sound of gunshots now moved towards the main road and were accompanied by distant and instant shrill of screams. "We felt a bit relieved when this stopped at around 1:03am. We now heard the sound of reving and screeching tyres and about two or three vehicles moving likely towards the other side of town (outskirts) a village not affected by the curfew.
My wife was now crying. Even my little girl. I observed her crying was not entirely for our situation but for the solo voice of the woman crying two blocks away. Her dirge was so moving I could have wept if not for the anxiety I was in. Slowly, the clock in the bedroom indicated 3:30 a.m. By now, it had rained lightly as if to underscore the unusual nature of this night. I remained agitated and anxious until at about 5:19am. When I woke up to discover I had slept off. "As daylight came slowly, I heard the sounds of neighbors opening their doors, gates and more wailings. I came out to see my neighbors gathered in small circles discussing the incident of the night.
"Bodies were lined up in front of the house a block away. Some of the students with just shorts, boxers or vests on. My one prayer was that the lifting of the curfew the previous day should still be in place. I drove out of the compound with my family and got to the main road. People and security operatives gathered round bodies lined up on the main road. I took a quick glance and with my wife drove quickly into the main road. I was looking ahead at the police patrol van in front of me trying to make sense of what it was carrying and why the policemen had to sit high up on the cabin.
That was when my wife's wailing became louder. "I observed they were bodies. Bodies of students in T-shirts, jeans and shorts. I drove behind the van making sure blood dripping from its open tail board on to the main road remain between my wheels until it turned into the Mubi General Hospital. Women and passersby could only stare and scream, not knowing what had happened in the Wuro Puteji part of town the night before."
*The lecturer whose account was published above pleaded to be anonymous. I was lucky to pass through to Marrarraba passing two checkpoints before Makeria to make my way out of Mubi. I arrived Jalingo a few minutes after 3:00p.m only to learn people have been stopped from leaving town. While coming out I observed many students and others already aware of the happening of the previous night were struggling to make their way out.
The once peaceful and prosperous Mubi has become a shadow of itself. While driving out of town, I saw several vehicles with their drivers making u-turns and moving back to Yola or Michika. Along Gombi Song, I saw a retinue of military and police trucks moving rapidly towards Mubi with the cars carrying the top echelons of the police, SSS and Army at the head of the delegation.