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Isuwa Kiforo: The story of a Kaduna director who was killed in error

Late Pastor Isuwa Kiforo, the top government official who was shot by security agents while on his way into the Kaduna State Government House of…

Late Pastor Isuwa Kiforo, the top government official who was shot by security agents while on his way into the Kaduna State Government House of fortnight ago had a stable disposition, a close member of the family, Haruna Yashim, has said

Yashim told our correspondent at the pre-burial service that though late Kiforo had challenges of life, he had been stable.

“He was very stable. There was no sign that he had any psychiatric problem,” Yashim said.

Sunday Trust gathered that Kiforo, who was one of the oldest directors in the Kaduna State Civil Service, was a one-time director in the Government House in the office of the Deputy Governor from 1991 to 1993 and was going to the Government House the day of his encounter with the security men following a call from one of the top government officials concerning his possible elevation to the post of permanent secretary.

Yashim, who said he had been close to Kiforo right from childhood, recalled something about the deceased: “Pastor Isuwa Kiforo is a man who loved God and had a sincere passion for God. In fact, he could go mad because of God. He was a man who loved God and was a very peaceful person. He was someone who could sacrifice anything for humanity. If you wanted to see the best of Kiforo, you mention God and the welfare of humanity. He hated to see anyone suffering. Anytime he saw anyone in hardship, his heart would be troubled until he solves the problem. His death came to us as a shock because the circumstances that led to his death is a surprise to everyone, particularly the way the security agents could not explain why he was shot. No one believes that Kiforo refused to be checked.”

On his personal relationship with the late Kiforo, Yashim said, “He had been my mentor. He was one of the people who brought me to Christ. He raised me up spiritually. He was my guardian. In the house I was just his own son. His widow doesn’t do anything without consulting me. Even when he died, every decision they were taking they consult me till now.  I am surprised about some things people are saying about him, but God knows everything.”

When asked what he was surprised about, he said, “People were saying that he refused to stop for checks by the police at the gate. That is a shock because he is someone who talks about discipline. He is someone who always prays for Yakowa, and prays for peace in Kaduna and for the rest of Nigeria. He is someone who emphasized discipline.”

But Pastor Jonathan Bagai, who knew the late Kiforo from their Sardauna Memorial College days, reiterated that Kiforo was a peaceful man. Kiforo.

Bagai, who is the Secretary of the Bajju Intercessors for the Land and pastor serving in the Bajju Traditional Council, described Kiforo’s demise as shocking.

A former deputy governor of Kaduna State, Mr James Bawa Magaji, under whom the late Kiforo served as a director, said that the late director was a very dedicated servant.

The former deputy governor recalled, “I can tell the world that Kiforo was a reliable and dedicated servant because he worked in my office as a director of finance when I was deputy governor of Kaduna State. He was one of the people who were very sincere in their work and someone who always prayed for peace in Kaduna State. I’ve known him since 1992 and up to when he died, he was still dedicated. What happened to him was a sad incident. The death was tragic and just as people have said, God Knows best.”

On his part, the elder brother of the late Kiforo, Ibrahim Sani, said that they were shocked when they received the news that he was shot at the Government House.

“Unfortunately, he is not alive to tell us what happened. Now, we cannot say exactly what happened but we have accepted it as a fate God has designed. We take it as the way it was going to be. But how we wish that he did not die before he could answer the question of what actually happened. We are consoled, however, that he died in God. He knew God and God gave him the opportunity to talk and to also bless his children,” he said

The widow of Kiforo, Mrs Rahab, who was very courageous but emotional, said that the incident came to her as something from the unimaginable.

“I said to myself that this shame was coming from the devil. I and my family, we have made up our minds that for the rest of our lives, we will continue to serve God and humanity,” she said.

She broke into a song with a title, “I will serve you, Lord,” and asked the people to pray God to fill the vacuum that had been created.

The Bishop of the Barnawa Living Faith Church, Garden of Faith, Kaduna, Mike Afolabi, described Kiforo as a dedicated Christian who loved God with all his heart. Afolabi was represented at the pre-burial service by the Senior Pastor of the church, Pastor Agih Emmanuel, who said he had known Kiforo as a generous man.

“I’ve known Pastor Kiforo for quite sometime now. It’s not quite long since I came to Kaduna but we had a wonderful time with him. Just like I said during the message, he had a passion for God. He loved God and served God. I know and am confident that he has entered into his reward,” Pastor Emmanuel said.

One of Kiforo’s friends, Bishop Ibraham Hassan said Kiforo loved God to the end.

“During the course of knowing him in the past 20 years, he had been a good person to me and I know that he was good to everyone he came across.”

The late Pastor Kiforo was born to the family of Mr and Mrs Kiforo Rekwot on March 20, 1959 at Zuturung Kiforo in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State. He attended LEA Primary School, Gidan Maga (1967-1973), and later enrolled into the Government College, Kaduna from 1973 to 1978.

In 1978-1980 he was at the Katsina Polytechnic. In 1989-1991, he attended Kwara Polytechnic and from 1999-2001 he was at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. He held an Advanced Certificate in Commerce, a Professional Diploma in Public Accounting and Finance, an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Finance, a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Financial Management and a Masters in Finance.

Kiforo joined the Kaduna State Civil Service in 1982 and rose as an accountant in charge of the Ministry of Justice (1988-1989), sub-treasurer of Kachia Local Government  Area in1989, Director of Finance to the Deputy Governor (1991-1993), Director of Finance to Special Director of Education Development Project (1994-1997), Assistant Director of Finance, Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board (2000 -2003), Ministry for Economic Planning in 2003, Acting Director of Finance, Kaduna State Local Government Staff Pension Board (2003-2005), Ministry of Science and Technology (2005-2007), Ministry for Local Government (2007), Ministry for Culture and Tourism (2007-2008), and then Ministry of Information and Home Affairs from 2008 till he died on February 19 2012.

He was buried on Friday, 24 February, 2012 in his home town, Zuturung Kiforo, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Late Pastor Isuwa Kiforo was shot on Monday February 13 2012, while on his way to the Government House by securitymen who said they mistook him for a Boko Haram sect attacker but whose family said he was shot in error. He died in the early hours of Sunday, 19 February 2012 at the 44 Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna where he had been receiving treatment.

Kiforo was reported to have been shot in the leg and in the abdomen when he failed to stop for routine security checks at the gate of the Government House.

Securitymen guarding the premises opened fire on his Toyota car when he drove “dangerously in a suspicious manner towards the Government House gate,” the state police commissioner, Bala Magaji Nasarawa, had said.

The atmosphere for the shooting of Kiforo was set by the Boko Haram hysteria that gripped Kaduna when two bomb-laden cars forced their way into the headquarters of the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army. The sect had claimed responsibility for the botched attack.

Manasseh Isuwa Kiforo, the eldest son of late Pastor Isuwa Kiforo, said his father had told him that he was shot in error and urged the family to “leave everything to God.” Manasseh said his father, who died in his arms, had dismissed claims by security operatives that he was shot because he refused to stop for routine checks, saying that especially because of his status in society, he couldn’t have driven suspiciously to the gate of the Government House.

While narrating his last moments with his father, Manasseh said his father went through agony at the army hospital after undergoing surgery.

Manasseh recalled his experience of the first few hours after his father had been shot and afterwards: “My father told me that he was shot in error. The incident took place while I was in Abuja. A friend called me that day and informed me that four of them were in my father’s office when he told them to wait for him that he was going to the Government House. Few minutes later, the man said they heard that a director was shot at the Government House and when he told me about it, I called Gen. Zamani Lekwot because he is a family friend. It was then that I confirmed that my father had been shot. After the surgery at the hospital, my father told us to leave everything to God. The government has also promised to foot the hospital bills,” he said.

Late Pastor Isuwa Kiforo married Rahab Kiforo on 23th December 23, 1984 and the marriage is blessed with Manasseh and four other children, namely Jude, Ashiya, Nehemiah and David Kiforo.

The late Kiforo spent most of his time in the Church, Living Faith Church Barnawa.

“He prayed for people and they got healed. He was then advised to take some courses on pastoral ministry and was adopted as one of the pastors in the Barnawa Living Faith Church. So, he was not a fulltime pastor,” Manasseh explained.

Governor Ibrahim Yakowa has not made any statement on the shooting that led to his death.

An operation was carried out at the 44 Army Reference Hospital to remove some of the bullets that were still in his body. After the operation, he was able to speak to his family and told them that he was shot in error.

He was in constant X-ray before he died.

The police have refused to mention the personnel who shot him. Even when a question on that was put across to them, they merely said, “No comment”. But the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Ballah M. Nasarawa, who confirmed the incident, said in a statement: “a combined team of security personnel attached to Government House main gate, Kaduna, intercepted a Toyota Corolla, Salon Car, maroon in colour, with Kaduna State Government official Registration number Kaduna, KD – 06 – A 04. The driver drove dangerously in a suspicious manner towards the Government House gate. The security personnel stopped the lone occupant. Instead of stopping, he forced himself through the exit gate and found his way into the Government House.

“The suspect was later identified as Pastor Isuwa Kiforo ‘M’ of No. 7 Abba Rimi road, Narayi, Kaduna, who is a Director of Finance and Administration, Ministry of Information, Kaduna State. The vehicle was thoroughly searched in my presence by our anti-bomb disposal experts and nothing incriminating was recovered.”

The police gave a wrong address. The house number is 31, Kashim Road, Narayi High Cost, Kaduna.