The photograph of a policeman, Cpl. Bara’u Garba, who allegedly abducted and defiled a teenager, Maryam Yusuf, went viral on the Internet recently. The mother of the teenager, Fatima Abdullahi, shares her pains with MOTUNRAYO JOEL who sought out the family
What is your name?
I am Fatima Abdullahi. I retain my maiden name as it is a practice in Hausa. Yusuf is my husband’s name, so my daughter expectedly takes it as her surname.
What is your occupation?
I am unemployed at the moment.
Where do you live?
I stay at the Hausa Quarters in Asaba, Delta State,
How many children do you have?
I have four children – three females and a male.
What is Maryam’s position among your children?
Maryam is my first child and daughter.
Where is Maryam at the moment?
She is beside me as we talk though asleep.
Tell us what transpired on the day your daughter was allegedly abducted as she narrated to you since she wasn’t allowed to speak with us.
That day wasn’t the first day I was sending Maryam on an errand, but sadly, it was the day her life changed forever. I still remember waking up that morning and preparing breakfast for my children. Maryam’s father and I had the intention of sending her to Onitsha market for a while but we didn’t have the money to buy what we wanted. As soon as we were able to get little cash, I called Maryam that morning and asked her to go to Onitsha market to buy curtains for our house. I gave her some money. I warned her to be careful while walking round the market so as not to lose the money.
On getting to Onitsha, she alighted from the bus and as she was about to board another bus to Onitsha market, she realised that she had lost the money. I believe she lost the money while on the bus.
Don’t you think Maryam is too young to travel from Asaba to Onitsha alone?
Asaba to Onitsha is not far; it is a few minutes’ drive especially if there is no traffic. If the distance was much, I wouldn’t send her.
What happened after she couldn’t find the money?
She began to walk to and fro the bus park in search of the money and to get help. That was when the police officer, who allegedly defiled her, saw her. He was seated with his friends under a tree. He approached her and asked her what she was looking for. She told him she was looking for the vehicle she boarded from Asaba to Onitsha. She said she hoped to also find the driver and ask him if he saw any money in his bus. He then asked her what she wanted him to do for her because he didn’t have money to give her. She then said she wanted to return to Asaba. He offered to show her the way back home. Thinking he was genuinely helping her, she sat on his bike. But rather than take her home as promised, he allegedly took her to his place and locked her up there.
What did the policeman do to her while she was in his custody?
Maryam said he raped her. He allegedly threatened and told her that if she didn’t cooperate with him, he would harm her. At that point, she became terrified. That was how he raped her. He raped her twice and sometimes thrice a day for six days. She bled the first time he raped her.
Did he feed her throughout the six days she was allegedly in his custody?
Yes, she said he used to give her food. She said there were times she would cry, pleading with him to let her go but her pleas were not answered.
How did she escape from her captor?
One night, while he was asleep, Maryam got her phone and dialled her cousin’s number. Luckily, she knew the number offhand. She told him all that happened to her. He then gave the police officer’s number to his father. Through True Caller, they were able to get his identity. They planned with their aunt to call the policeman. The aunt then called the officer on the phone, sounding like she is a single lady. She planned to come to Onitsha the next day to meet him. She said she used to come to Onitsha market frequently to buy things.
The following day, the aunt arrived in Onitsha and called him on the phone. They agreed to meet at a particular place. As the police officer arrived, my relatives met him and confronted him about Maryam. He denied abducting her, claiming he never met her. My relatives then told him that they were going to report the matter to the Area Commander in Onitsha. On their way to the commander’s place, they got a call from the Hausa community in Asaba. They said Maryam just arrived at their office.
What happened afterwards?
My relatives rushed down to Asaba and saw Maryam there. Maryam said the policeman took her to the leader of the Hausa community.
How did she look when you saw her?
My daughter was looking so poor – in a terrible state. The policeman treated her badly; he destroyed my daughter’s life.
How has her attitude been since the incident?
My daughter has changed, whenever I think about the day I sent her to Onitsha, I curse the day. I know my daughter’s life will never be the same. I would be lying to myself if I say she is doing fine.
All she does lately is to sleep and I don’t blame her. My daughter was a loving child; she had good friends. She loved to relate with people, but now things are no longer the same. She prefers to be all by herself. She stays indoors and refuses to go out. What did I do to deserve this? What did my daughter also do to deserve this? A lot has been taken from her.
Was she given drugs at the hospital you took her to?
Yes, she was; it is the drugs she is taking that are partly making her to sleep a lot. Now she could sleep for hours at a stretch and whenever she wakes up, she sits on her bed and stares into space. Her mind always seems occupied. I feel sad about what happened to my daughter. In fact, the word sad doesn’t describe how I feel at the moment. Every day, I regret the day I sent her to Onitsha. I wish I didn’t do that. I really wish my daughter was not defiled. I have to live with that all my life. That is one thought I know would haunt me all my life. All I cry out for is justice. I want my daughter to get justice; I won’t rest until she gets justice. All that happened to her is painful – painful for any mother to bear.
Did you take her for tests to confirm your fears?
Yes, we did all that. HIV test was conducted on her. The hospital said we would know if she is HIV positive after three months. But based on her state of health and other findings, she is not HIV positive.
She is pregnant?
No, she is not pregnant.
What efforts did you make in finding your daughter while she was abducted?
For a whole day, I couldn’t sleep or eat. I and my friends travelled to Onitsha and moved round communities in search of her. I really tried my best to find her. I was not myself; I don’t wish any mother lose her daughter.
What do you want the authorities to do to the policeman who allegedly raped your daughter?
I want him to be dealt with according to the law. I want justice for my daughter. The matter must not be covered up. She deserves justice. I want the Federal Government to intervene. I believe Maryam’s life is now in danger.
Do you feel guilty about what happened to your daughter?
Yes, I do feel guilty; I am sad.
Did you tell Maryam’s siblings what happened to their sister?
They are still young; they won’t be able to comprehend what happened to her.
Has she been threatened by the police officer?
No, he didn’t threaten her because he has been detained. He is in police custody. We are awaiting the outcome of the hearing.
Outcome of Garba’s trial’ll be made public — Police
Response of Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, Nkeiruka Nwode, to the matter
Are you aware of the case of a policeman attached to the Anambra Police Command who allegedly abducted and defiled a 14-year-old girl?
Yes, but what do you want to know about it?
Where is he now?
The Commissioner of Police held a press briefing on the case and the policeman was defaulted. Whatever is the outcome of the trial, I would let the public know please.
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The photograph of a policeman, Cpl. Bara’u Garba, who allegedly abducted and defiled a teenager, Maryam Yusuf, went viral on the Internet recently. The mother of the teenager, Fatima Abdullahi, shares her pains with MOTUNRAYO JOEL who sought out the family What is your name? I am Fatima Abdullahi. I retain my maiden name as […] Read Full Story