|Scene of the blast|
|Expended bullets picked from Mallam Goni’s home|
To ascertain the actual death toll, and corroborate the diverse accounts shared by eyewitnesses, I requested see the graves of the deceased; speak with their family members, and or see some of the wounded to document their own testimonies. Gladly, Kaigama and many others offered to take me round to see things for myself. A fidau (funeral service) prayer was going on when we got to the home of late Mallam Goni Tijani, who was allegedly shot in his home by JTF soldiers. I sat down on the mat and joined the prayers. Being the only woman seated among several men, I suddenly became the center of attraction. It was also evident that I was a stranger, unfamiliar with the customs and ways of the people. News went round that I was a journalist from CNN that had come to document their story. More people trooped to the venue to get an opportunity to be filmed.
|Children of late Mallam Goni|
As I inspected the damaged door, a little girl, the deceased’s daughter (aged between 5-7 years old) constantly tucked at my dress as though she had something to say. So, I stooped down to listen to her long narrative in Hausa (I later learned that was Kanuri). There was pin drop silence as she spoke, twiddling with her fingers. Carried away by her narrative, Kaigama forgot I depended on his translation. All of a sudden, pointing two of her middle fingers at me, she made a loud sound…gbaaaaaaa….and then burst into irrepressible tears. She witnessed her father’s murder! She watched the soldiers kill her father!!! I regretted not filming her. So, I pulled out my camera and requested her to retell the story, but her mother suddenly appeared and quickly dragged her away. With that unsolicited, mind-boggling first-hand account by a child, the temperature of the crowd rose to a boiling point. The crowd comprising mainly young males and a few females had tripled, charging, chanting, cursing the soldiers and demanding their exit from Miaduguri. I filmed away.