On Monday, gunmen attacked Bethel Secondary School in Maramara, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, whisking away over 150 students.
Two Nigerian soldiers, Private Rabiu Salisu and Ordinary Seaman Bilal Mohammed, were shot by gunmen during the incident. While Ordinary Seaman Bilal Mohammed died on the spot, Private Salisu Rabiu was taken to a hospital where he eventually gave up the ghost.
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Daily Trust on Sunday visited the family house of Private Rabiu, in the Tawalala area of Daura, the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari, where the late army officer was laid to rest after a funeral prayer held late evening on Tuesday.
When our reporter visited on Friday, sympathizers were trooping to condole with the family of the fallen hero.
My last words with him – Widow
The obviously distraught widow, who could not control her emotion, Malama Maryam Rabiu, said she received the death of her husband with great shock as they spoke last the previous night and he told her that he had a distress call, and promised to call her back, but never did.
“He called me around 8pm, and we always used to have a lengthy discussion. But that ill-fated night he told me in the middle of our discussion that he had a call and he was going for an operation, so he had to go. We did not say our usual goodbyes because he said he would call back, but that was the last I heard from him,” she said while crying.
She said she was told that he was shot around 3am that day but was taken to a hospital where he died around 5am, adding that he was a very caring husband and compassionate father.
“He was very loving and caring to me. He was compassionate to his children and anyone that interacted with him as we heard that tribute even from his colleagues. You hardly hear someone who came across him complaining about him,” she said. She said they had two children, Ahmad and Fatima.
He was an obedient son – Mother
Also speaking, his mother, Malam Umma Yusuf, who is a widow, described her son as an obedient young man who had never disobeyed her.
“He was really an obedient boy who respected people a lot. He had never gone against my wish and I have known nothing about him except kindness up to the time he returned to his creator.
“My prayer is for Allah to have mercy on his soul and forgive his short comings. I also appeal to the authorities concerned to hasten the release of his benefits so that the children he left behind can be taken care of. His father is dead and he was our bread winner,” she said.
He had always wanted to be a soldier – friends, relatives
According to his cousin and close friend, Malam Hussaini, with whom he acquired Islamic education, the late Rabiu’s life ambition had always been to be a soldier in order to serve his people.
“He is about 30 years of age. We grew up together even though he was a bit older than me. We are close friends and we attended the same Shababul Khair Islamiyya School, and he memorized the entire Qur’an.
“He went to Kano where he attended Senior Secondary School, but because he did not get a credit in English Language, he returned to Daura here, where he had to re-sit to secure a credit in English with which he applied for this military job.
“He was a highly responsible person; he was the one who used to make the azan (call to prayer) in this mosque and whenever the Imam was absent, he used to lead the prayers. Like I told you, he memorized the entire Qur’an, and became like our teacher,” he said.
“He tried several times to join the army together with his friend, Sharifuddeen, and he eventually made it and was posted to Kaduna. He was even planning to take his family with him to Kaduna,” he said.
He described late Rabiu as a devout muslim who loved Prophet Muhammad so dearly, saying “I remember his last facebook post on Friday where he wrote “May Allah make us meet our Prophet Muhammad and make us love him the more.”
He added that the late Rabiu was a kind-hearted and brave soldier. “He spent a year and eight days on the job he so dearly longed to for – from the day of their passing out to the day he was killed.”
When asked whether any of the government officials or the military had attended the funeral, Hussain said none had come to Daura for the funeral, but the representative of Governor El-Rufa’I was with them in Kaduna, where he conveyed the condolences of the governor and announced the governor’s donation of the sum of N1m to the family, though it was yet to be redeemed as at the time of compiling this report.
Also commenting on the sad event, Abubakar Yusuf, who claimed to be one of late Rabiu’s relatives, said, “I was one of those who went to Kaduna to retrieve his corpse and it is true that the governor’s representative had mentioned the donation of N1m from the governor to the family, but we have not received it. We were given N150,000 to transport his dead body back home and prepare for his burial and other related issues,” he said.
He also called on the governor to fulfill his promise and the military authorities to accelerate the release of his benefits so that his family, particularly his children, are taken care of, considering the fact that he lost his live while trying to protect other children.
According to reports, Monday’s attack on Bethel Baptist High School was the fourth mass school kidnap in Kaduna State since December.
Late Private Rabiu was buried at Makabartar Yamma (Western Cemetery) after a funeral prayer held at his family house in Tawalala area, Daura Town, Katsina State on Tuesday.
He was survived by his wife Maryam, two children and his aged mother, Umma Yusuf.