Old giant threes with fat, twisting trunks that outlived their colonial planters, spread forth their huge branches of green leaves over the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Jengree in Bassa Local Government Area, LGA, of Plateau State.
The hospital, said to be over 60 years old, bore all the trappings of colonial structures in Nigeria – simple homes of asbestos roofs with walls made of stones and well spaced from each other; and rows of flower beds all over the place.
In one of the wards, Pastor Emmanuel Danjuma Garkida lay on his sick bed bare-chest, with sunken eyes that seemed to stare at nothing. There was a wide band of bandage on his lower abdomen. The story behind the bandage is a summary of the bloodlet that took place in Saminaka in Lere LGA, Kaduna State, on April 13 and 14 after the 2015 gubernatorial election. In barely audible voice, Garkida, who hails from Borno State, narrated to Sunday Vanguard his close shave with death.
“I come from Borno State, but I am a serving pastor with the Redeemed Church of God, Yobe Province,” he stated.
“My wife is a native of Abadawa, Saminaka in Kaduna State and she had come back to her parents and put to bed a baby boy a week earlier. I had come to see her, my kids and her family, and I could name the new child.
“I took a bike, that morning to go see my fellow pastor in the other side of Saminaka to help officiate the ceremony”.
According to him, on arriving the Saminaka main bridge, on the Jos-Zaria Expressway, met had a grim encounter.
Saminaka’s green line
The bridge has for long served as a kind of green line between the two major political parties in the country, and the two main religions. Sunday Vanguard learnt that the two group of people had always voted in opposite directions in all elections since 1999. Some said it even dated back before then.
Christians and some Hausa/Fulani occupy the eastern part of the bridge and dominate the Abadawa ward where the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has a comfortable base in the town. The western part, called Hayin Gada and populated mostly by Hausa/Fulani and Muslims, but with good presence of other tribes, is a bastion of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
‘Kill the infidel, cut him down!’
“I reached the bridge on my way to Abadawa when I met some Hausa youths carrying weapons and inflicting injuries on passersby who were not of their own. But since I know some of the boys, I asked them to show mercy on people. To my surprise some of them started yelling, “Kill him! Kill the infidel! Cut him down!”, he said. “One of them rushed at me with a machete. I don’t know how I managed to grab him and threw him away. Another came with a sword and aimed at my neck, I used my hand to receive the blow.
“I started running, and one of them used a cutlass and wounded me at the back of my head. I started bleeding and I could feel the blood dripping on my clothes. I kept running, and they kept hitting me with sticks and stabbing me with knives until I fell.
Saved by a stranger
“As they were coming to finish me off, the last thing I remembered was that a Hausa man, well dressed in white agbada and cap sped on a bike and arrived at my side.
”The man shouted at them in Hausa, ‘leave this man alone and disappear now! Are you not satisfied that you have killed him? Every one of you must leave immediately I don’t know what happened afterwards. I went into coma, the bleeding and pains were too much.
“The man whom I had never met before was said to have stayed there with me, as I later learnt, until my friend, Skido, a Yoruba man, came and evacuated me to an hospital in Saminaka. I was told that I had ruptured intestine.
“The doctor had to bring out my entire intestine and clean up by stomach before stitching me back. I have been stabbed in many places. You can see the healing wounds. I was brought here to Jengree when my condition got worse. But I am fine now. And I thank God for sparing my life. My sister and mother have been the ones bearing the emotional and financial burden of this problem alone”.