A Widow’s Cry for Justice

02 Apr 2013

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Late Kiforo

One year after the killing of a senior civil servant who was mistaken for a member of the Boko Haram Islamic sect at the Government House, Kaduna, his family is still waiting for justice, reportsJohn Shiklam

Since the killing of her husband in February last year by security men at the gate of the Government House, Kaduna, life has been very tough for Mrs. Charity Kiforo and her children.She and her family of 10 (her five children and five dependents) have virtually been surviving on the goodwill of kind-hearted individuals and members of their church, Living Faith Church, since the shooting and subsequent death of her husband, Mr. Isuwa Kiforo.

Kiforo was until the unfortunate incident on February 13 last year the Director of Finance and Administration in the Kaduna State Ministry of Information.

Kiforo, who was also a pastor at the Living Faith Church, was shot while on his way to the Government House by security men who were said to have mistook him for a member of the Boko Haram sect for allegedly “driving in a dangerously in a suspicious manner towards the gate leading to the Government House.”

Security agents at the gate were said to have opened fire at him by shooting him in the leg and in the abdomen after he allegedly failed to stop at the gate for the routine security checks at the entrance of the Government House.

He was rushed to the 44, Army Referral Hospitals in Kaduna for treatment but gave up the ghost about one week after while in the hospital.

One of the most painful aspect of the incident, according to the widow, is the alleged non-chalant attitude of the state government towards the whole episode.

In an emotion laden voice, the widow told this reporter that the state government which was led by the late governor Patrick Yakowa, had promised to investigate the matter, noting that one year after nothing has been heard.

The family had also in a letter to Governor Mukhtar Yero, dated January 22, 2013 demanded to know the outcome of the investigation into  the killing of their bread winner.

The letter signed by Manasseh Kiforo, the first son of the deceased also demanded for the immediate payment of the entitlements of his late father to cushion the effect of the suffering of the family.

Mrs. Kiforo who accused the government of frustrating the payment of the entitlements, said the family may soon become homeless as owner of the rented apartment where the family lives, wants to sell the house.

“The owner of the house we are renting has given us notice that he wants to sell the house and is asking us to pay N17 million if we are interested in buying the house. We don’t have the money to buy the house so once the landlord gets a buyer, we would be ejected from the house,” she lamented.

According to her, the situation of things is so difficult that her church members had to come to the rescue of her family with assistance.

“They were the ones who organised the recent remembrance service in honour of my late husband. God has been helping us. I thank God; people help us with food items so I don’t buy food. I use my salary to pay the children’s school fees.

“God has been so faithful to us; he has been sending people from every nook and cranny to be helping us. They give us money and food stuff, especially our church members from Living Faith. They have been so concerned, they come in group, they come individually, they pray with us and they give us assistance.

“In fact during Christmas last year, I was wondering how it will look like without my husband. I thought of how we will get what my late husband usually provides for us during Christmas.

“But the people within the community provided everything for us during Christmas. Some of them brought rice, oil, meat, in fact we didn’t buy anything and we thank them for their show of love and kindness.

“My first son is not working; I am the only one working. I am a secondary school teacher and everybody knows the position of a teacher in Nigeria. I have five children and many dependents. I have 15 people depending on me,” she said.

According to her, all efforts at ensuring that her husband’s entitlements are paid have not yielded any positive result as officials of the ministry of information kept on demanding one thing or the other.

“When I went to the ministry of information where he was working, they said we should bring this and bring that, after we brought those things they demanded, they said we should take  them to the Ministry of Finance and since then we have not heard anything,” she explained

Besides, Mrs. Kiforo is bitter about the attitude of the state government towards her late husband when he was shot.

“My anger with the state government is that when the thing happened, they didn’t even show concern even to visit him at the 44, Army Referral Hospital which is a stone throw from the Government House.

“My husband was a senior civil servant and I know that he was so faithful and committed in serving Kaduna State. He used to tell us during the family morning devotion to pray so that this Boko Haram comes to an end.

“I am surprised they said he was a suspect of Boko Haram that was why they shot him. At the end of the day, when they didn’t find anything in his car, what were they supposed to do? They couldn’t find any suspicious thing suggesting that he was Boko Haram member. We want justice to be done,” she said.

According to her, after the burial of her husband, Mrs. Hanatu Ugah who was the Head of Service before her retirement “told us that the governor (late Yakowa) had set up a committee to investigate what happened since he was not around when the incident happened. We were told that the governor (Yakowa) will work with the report of the committee.

My in-law then asked the former Head of Service what will happened if we don’t hear anything and she told us that, if that happens, we can go ahead and write, requesting the government to please explain what really happened. That is what made us to write that letter we sent to the present governor.

“We want to know what really happened. We were told that he just drove through the exit gate.

“If they cannot explain what really happened, we will not do anything, we will leave them with God who is the ultimate judge over everything. If they think they are powerful and nothing will happen to them, they cannot be more powerful than the Almighty God. The nonchalant attitude the government displayed made us to suspect that something was wrong,” she stated.

She declared further that one of the most painful things is that her husband was fasting and spending sleepless night praying for the successful conduct of the 2011 elections only for him to be treated like this.

“What pains me most was that my husband had sleepless nights going to the mountain praying for the success of the 2011 general elections. One of his friends, an Igbo man usually comes from Abuja. He is a prophet and he will spend one week and they will be going to the mountain to pray together with my husband.

In his reaction on the letter of the family to Governor Yero, the  Director General Media and Publicity to the governor,  Mallam Ahmed Maiyaki, said the incident happened before his boss became the governor of the state. He however promised to find out the details of what happened that time.

Also reacting to some of the allegations, a senior government official who pleaded anonymity explained, that the state government has no powers to investigate the incident, saying that it is the duty of the police to investigate the incident since it was a security issue.

He also maintained that he was not aware of any committee set up by the late Governor Patrick Yakowa to investigate the matter adding that it was not true that the government did not show concern over the incident.

Reacting on the non-payment of entitlements of the deceased to the family, the state’s Head of Service, Mr. Nathaniel Hayab, said there are due processes to be followed in the payment of entitlements of any civil servant.

Speaking in a telephone interview with THISDAY in Kaduna, Hayab also challenged the family to name those who are frustrating the payment of the entitlements.

“I want to know to what level they have processed the payment. Have they been following up? They are being frustrated by who? We want to get the facts, if they say they are being frustrated, we want to get to the facts; we want to know the person frustrating them so that we can hold the person responsible.

“I request that you either ask them to come to me or they should tell you whoever that is frustrating them then we can pick up from there. But certainly due process has to be followed,” he said.

Hayab said there are several cases of people who are pursuing one payment or the other adding that “if we want to sort out a problem and there are issues that are on, we must know precisely what they are. So ask them to come and see me and let me know exactly the position of things. That is how we sort out problems.

“They should come and tell me what they have done, what papers they have been asked to provide, what they have provided and if they are being frustrated, who is frustrating them. I advise you to get the correct facts because I don’t think that is the correct approach to the whole matter.

“Discuss with them about documentation, anywhere there must be due process to get things done,” the Head of Service said.

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