The day was far spent, with temperature rising to about 40 degree Celsius in the Sahel Savannah vegetation of southern Borno.
It was in late March, and there eminent personalities in the state – Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Alhaji Usman Dirkwa; the House of Assembly member representing Hawul State Constituency, Hon Ayuba Stephen Wakawa, and the Chairman, Hawul Local Government, Dr Andrew Malgwi were out in the area to woo the electorate to support the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates ahead of the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly polls.
Like previous political engagements, the three politicians decided to have a break; so they stopped for lunch at Marama, the country home of the council chairman in the area.
But hardly had they settled down to savour the delicious meal when some hoodlums suspected to be political thugs struck.
“The commissioner, the council chairman and myself hail from Hawul Local Government Area.
We went to the area few days to the presidential election to canvass for support from our people for all our candidates.
By noon, we decided we should stop at Marama to break our activities and have lunch.
But some hoodlums just came and attacked us as we were taking our meals,” one of the victims, Hon Ayuba Wakawa told Daily Sun.
Wakawa said two other local politicians from the area were also having lunch with them when the hoodlums came, adding that the duo of the Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation and the council chairman sustained severe injuries.
“They wanted to kill us but God saved us. It was bad and I told them there was no need shedding blood over elections,” he told the reporter.
He alleged that some politicians in the area who were unhappy about what he called the impending, glaring victory of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the March 28 and April 11 elections masterminded the attack.
“They probably sensed failure in the elections,” he claimed, even as he said he had forgiven the attackers.
He said he viewed the incident as one of the challenges of politics and change, which Nigerians were yearning for in the build up to the presidential polls.
While the House of Assembly member was lucky not to have sustained injuries, both the commissioner and the local government chairman were not that fortunate as both were severely wounded. “Blood was actually gushing out of the chairman’s forehead,” said an eyewitness who arrived at the scene of the attack minutes later.
The chairman, Dr Malgwi said the attackers claimed some political thugs destroyed the campaign posters of their preferred party and candidates and decided to avenge by attacking the political leaders from the area who were not members of their political party.
“It appears the hoodlums were frustrated because they said their action was influenced by anger as some people tore the posters of their candidates,” he stated.
He expressed gratitude to God for ensuring that they survived the attack and were alive to recount their ugly experiences.
“Had the hoodlums killed us then, we wouldn’t have been telling this story now,” Malgwi said. Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Usman Dirkwa, who suffered damage on his hands and fingers, advised youths to be law-abiding.
He also appealed to the people to always report issues to the appropriate security agencies rather than take the law into their hands.
“Anger and violence will not solve any problem, no matter how small it is. We already have enough problem in Borno and there is no need compounding our problem with attack or violence against one another,” he stated.
He told Daily Sun that he had forgiven the attackers and would welcome them as fathers, should they be willing to change as better and peaceful citizen.
He urged people of Borno to close ranks to work for the return of peace to the state and embrace the rebuilding plan of the state government.
He noted that the victory of General Muhammadu Buhari as president and Governor Kashim Shettima’s re-election, were for all Borno people and Nigerians.
Elders and leaders of Marama, where the incident took place, some 190 kilometres to Maiduguri, the state capital, condemned the attack at a press conference held in Maiduguri. They also pledged their supports to the affected leaders from the area and called on youths to eschew violence.