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Stripping The Innocence From The Child

By Abdullahi D. Hassan and Njideka Agbo 07 December 2019   |   1:47 pm

A real-life story as told by 20-year-old Halimatu (pseudonym)

In the year 2008 ethnoreligious conflict engulfing in Jos, during the local council elections, Halimatu’s father, a gatekeeper in the city, bid his family goodbye and left for work, his usual practice in the morning. What they did not know is that it would be the last goodbye.

Four days after her mother and siblings waited for their father’s return, her mother left in search of her husband leaving 9-year-old Halimatu to cater for her family.

With determination to see her husband, Halimatu’s mother did only what the daring would do- went on a suicidal mission- visit the office of her husband only to find that soldiers had invaded the city. Walking about in utter confusion, she was fortunate to see a superior who informed her that all the houses in the street have been razed down with their occupants. Despite this, it took a deplorable nightmare for reality to dawn on her.

On her way back to her mud house at their village Zot, 10 kilometres away from Plateau State’s capital Jos, she is met with sympathisers who inform her that Halimatu has been slaughtered in an attack.

Later, Halimatu is found and with her mother and brother, escape to another village, eating once a day or nothing at all before moving to a temporary refugee camp in Jos Central Mosque.

Years later on her 16th birthday, luck, or so it seems, shines on Halimatu after she is informed that she will move to Abuja to live with her maternal mother’s niece. Filled with the desire to school again, she moves to Abuja where her aunt, a medical doctor teachers her intercontinental dishes, baking, is kind to her and enrols her in SS2.

Shortly after her arrival, her cousin’s first son attempted rape as she swept the sirring room beckoning on her with calls of- with calls of Mata ne (my wife) as she sweeps the sitting room. Traumatized by that incident, she fell ill causing her cousin to check her in the hospital and finds nothing. Bothered by her new reclusive attitude, her cousin speaks to her severally and even asks if she has offended Halimatu but Halimatu refused to speak.

The day her aunt travels for lesser Hajj, the son sneaks into her room, and put a knife to her throat saying, “if I shout he will kill me and bury my dead body at the backyard”. Halimatu was deflowered on that day. The incident will repeat itself four times. By the time the aunt got wind of it, she pleaded for non-disclosure leaving the disappointed Halimatu to return to Jos and her heartbroken mother, filled with regrets.

While she hopes that “Allah will be her verdict,” Halimatu has denied 10 suitors her hand. For now, “marriage is not her priority and she only questing vengeance from Allah”.

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