​*Doctors still battling to remove bullet lodged in my neck – Thomas, student

*I tried to fight, but my gun refused to fire – Retired Sgt Salisu

By Luka Binniyat

40 murdered natives, scores of injured persons, charred remains of buildings. That is the picture the world would remember Godogodo town for.

Last Thursday, as survivors of the Godogodo massacre led this reporter through what remained of a once lively town, the ruins and ashes of children and women burnt beyond recognition made one feel as if the ghosts of the victims were hanging in the air, each trying to tell his or her story.

But, Godogodo, an old colonial mining semi-urban town, about 250 kilometers south of Kaduna metropolis and situated in Jema’a Local Government Area, LGA, of Kaduna State, had, for over five months, been virtually screaming for help, raising the alarm that it was going to be invaded by assailants. It had also cried that it was being overwhelmed by refugees from adjacent villages fleeing killings from armed herdsmen.

Salisu showing the plastered spot where a bullet may still be lodged in his stomach.. on Friday

By Taboola

G-O-D-O-G-O-D-O: Survivors’ pathetic stories of a massacre foretold

ON October 23, 2016 6:11 AM / IN Just Human / Comments

*Doctors still battling to remove bullet lodged in my neck – Thomas, student

*I tried to fight, but my gun refused to fire – Retired Sgt Salisu

By Luka Binniyat

40 murdered natives, scores of injured persons, charred remains of buildings. That is the picture the world would remember Godogodo town for.

Last Thursday, as survivors of the Godogodo massacre led this reporter through what remained of a once lively town, the ruins and ashes of children and women burnt beyond recognition made one feel as if the ghosts of the victims were hanging in the air, each trying to tell his or her story.

But, Godogodo, an old colonial mining semi-urban town, about 250 kilometers south of Kaduna metropolis and situated in Jema’a Local Government Area, LGA, of Kaduna State, had, for over five months, been virtually screaming for help, raising the alarm that it was going to be invaded by assailants. It had also cried that it was being overwhelmed by refugees from adjacent villages fleeing killings from armed herdsmen.

Godogodo, the second most bustling, and most cosmopolitan town in Southern Kaduna after Kafanchan up to the late ‘70s, straddles the major Keffi-Gidanwaya-Jos expressway which is busy 24 hours every day.

Observers believe that there was a curious lack of interest by Kaduna State government to safeguard the town in view of its accessibility and the months of warning and the tale tell signs that pointed to the looming invasion.

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For example, on the 1st of June 2016, armed men stormed Ninte village, about kilometers from Godogodo and killed, executioner style, two persons and later sacked the town. Most the villagers ran to Godogodo.

On the 2nd of August, three villages around Godogodo, Golkofa, Anjol, and Akwa’a were invaded by alleged Fulani gunmen, leaving 11 deaths, scores injured and one of the villages torched.

On the 14th of August 2016, one Pastor Luka Ubangari of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, was killed at Unguwan Anjo, near Godogodo. Government was informed that some herdsmen were cutting down crops with which they were feeding their cattle. And that they had taken over the inner fringes of village.

On the 17th of August 2016, seven refugees from neighboring villages were waylaid and killed by suspected herdsmen as they heeded for farms on the outskirts of Godogodo. It was reported that herdsmen were lying in wait for anyone who ventured out into the bush. Police, who confirmed the killings, said there was going to be security beef up. But residents said nothing improved.

On the 25th of September 2016, an attempt by herdsmen to invade Godogodo was repelled by soldiers, the police and vigilante. The herdsmen were said to have sustained heavy casualties, but four vigilante men were also killed. Residents pleaded for reinforcement but only got about 10 soldiers to be stationed at the Godogodo post office.

On the 26th of September 2016, again, alleged herdsmen killed three in Dogon Daji village and torched part of Antang Village all laying on the Godogodo-Gidan-Waya Jos Expressway. Villagers fled to Gidan Waya and Godogodo, pleading for more security.

Survivors Speak

Sunday Vanguard spoke to two persons wounded in the Godogodo violence.

Bullet pierced through my neck – Thomas, student

Moses Thomas, who claimed to be a student, narrated his story on his sick bed.

“My name is Moses Thomas. I am 29 and a final year student of Kaduna State College of Education where I am studying Business Education. I’m a Mada person by tribe, but my parents settled in Godogodo a long time ago and I was raised there,”he said.

“ I’m lying with a bullet in my neck. The doctors said they can’t just remove it because it has touched vital veins. And I am wondering that if it can enter my neck, why can’t it removed? I wonder if it’s not my lack of money to treat myself that is making them say so. But, I understand that it is not easy to operate on the neck.

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“I feel a lot of pains on my neck and I am unable to turn in a particular position. It really hurts. But, I think I am very lucky because I am alive and I have hope.

“I don’t like recalling what happened that day. . . There were always rumours of herdsmen coming to invade but you never knew when and from which direction. On that day, I just heard shootings from behind our home.

“I knew it was the Fulani that had come. The shots were coming from afar, and I was wondering from where they were coming from. Then I realised they were coming from three directions. I don’t know what I bent down to do, but I just felt like a arrow of fire lodged in my neck. I crawled to one side and discovered that I could not stand up. When I got to my feet, I ran. . . I thank God that I’m alive. But, how can I truly be happy when right here there are many people that I know that are in worse situation. There are many who have also been killed, people I know very well.

“I believe that if government had taken the issue of our security very serious, they would have brought more soldiers and police. I don’t believe they don’t care what happens to us. Nobody from the local and state governments has come here to see us. All we hear are lies that they have done this and that for us.

I tried to fight, buy my gun refused to fire – Sgt. Salisu

Retired sergeant of Army Signal Training School, Apapa, Lagos, Ishaya Salisu, told his story.

“The first shot came from somewhere around the eastern side of my house,”he started

“I came out of the house and there were more shots. There were eight people in my house, mostly women and children. I rushed inside the house and told them to get into a room and lock themselves up. I picked my dame gun and came out. I have a neighbour who had been away and left his wife alone at home. I got there and brought her to my house. Then I saw the first set of Fulani walked into an adjacent street shooting. Some were burning homes because you could see fire and smoke that evening.

“I rushed back to the house and opened the rear door, came outside and positioned myself. I took aim at one of them, but my gun snapped! No shot! I took a good aim again, the gun did not answer.

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“Then I told myself that I had to take the women into safety. As I stood up to get into the house, a bullet passed through me. You can see how it passed through the hole in this very shirt I am wearing. I entered the house, locked the front door and told the women and children to shut up and just follow me. There was a part of my compound that has grass cover, beside a wall. I told them to lie down and stay silent. They obeyed. The Fulani came into the compound and started pouring petrol into the house, thinking we were inside. Then they set the house ablaze.

“I was watching, with my dame gun that could do nothing, and I was bleeding. We were lying down like that throughout the night. One woman wanted to stand up and run. I had to hold her down. I told her that if anyone stood up, we would all be dead.

“There were cries of agony throughout the night. People were either being slaughtered or being burnt alive.

“Fortunately, the attackers did not bother to search the area of my compound where were hiding. When it was morning, we got up.

“There was smell of human flesh everywhere. Fire was still razing some property. I walked to the road with the women and children. I saw a police patrol van with some policeman in it. I flagged them down, and they stopped. The man in charge asked who I was, and I told him I was a retired army sergeant, and that I needed to sort out the women and kids with us. And they said no problem. That is how I took them to my native village, not far from here on foot.

“In the village, we stopped the bleeding in the part of my body where I was hit by the attackers bullet and I was given local treatment. The truth is, I don’t know if the bullet is still inside my belly or it passed through and out. I don’t have money to even carry out x-ray.

“From what I gathered, there is a plot to seize our land for grazing of cattle and to foist Islam over us. Muslims in town were spared. I was told that some of them were even among the attackers.

“As far as we know, there has been enough warning about this tragedy. But, government did not take our security seriously.”