…father personally paid N120,000 to transport her corpse home
The death of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a 200-level student of Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State, who was murdered last Thursday over alleged blasphemy, has been described as painful and unforgettable by her parents, Mr Emmanuel Garba (father) and Mrs Alheri Emmanuel (mother) as the Sokoto State Government seems to have left them to their fate. In a telephone interview with DANIEL ATORI, Deborah’s parents narrated how they were charged N120,000 for a journey of less than 9 hours
We sympathise with you and the family: How is the situation now?
Well, we are all bereaved, we, the family and all Nigerians especially Christians and right thinking and concerned Muslims. We are trying to be strong and encouraged, we leave everything in God’s hands. Thank you so much, the condolences we have been receiving have been overwhelming. Infact someone, a woman even called from the United States of America (USA) and asked us to prepare that she is coming.
She is coming to Nigeria to do what?
She just said we should prepare that is all.
Has the Sokoto State government called you since or sent any message in form of commiseration?
For now, we have not seen or received any call yet from the government.
Were you the one that brought her (Deborah’s) remains from Sokoto ?
Yes, I am the one that brought back the corpse from Sokoto.
How were you able to get the corpse with the kind of hostility in Sokoto?
I went to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and DSS in Sokoto and since the body was burnt beyond recognition, I had to identify myself as Deborah’s father. I pleaded with them to help me so I can carry my daughter and bring her home to bury her.
They were sympathetic and just supported me to help carry the remains. The security agencies followed me to the mortuary, gave me documents to fill, I signed and after which they released the corpse to me, that was how I decided to bring her corpse back home to Tungan Magajiya in Rijau to bury her.
Are you saying no government official assisted you or accompanied you?
I personally, went and brought back the body of my daughter to enable me bury my own child. This is because keeping her in the morgue will not return her back. When I got there I met government officials and made them understand the need to allow me take her back home and they agreed even though initially they claimed she’s now government’s property. The government wanted me to leave the remains, but I said no.
Who paid the bills for transporting of the corpse from Sokoto to Niger State, was it the government or yourself?
I was the one who paid from my pocket. They even tripped the transport fare just to discourage me from burying my daughter.
How much did it cost you to bring her corpse to Niger?
Well, before I could get the one that carried the corpse for One hundred and twenty thousand (N120,000) I begged various transporters and because all of them are Hausa/Muslims they did not want to have anything to do with the corpse.
They just fixed exorbitant price to discourage me from taking the corpse down. It was not until I got someone that summoned courage to take us. Ofcourse, it was the amount that attracted the driver that eventually brought us to Rijau.
What do you do for a living?
I work as a security with the state water board or corporation. I was working in Minna before I got transferred to Tungan-Magajiya.
How is your wife, it was gathered she is hypertensive and still in shock. How is she doing now?
Presently, she’s okay and better now. She was administered drugs and injections at home.
Can I talk with her?
Yes, you can talk to her. She is here and listening
What do you have to say to Nigerians concerning this issue. I mean from your heart?
Honestly, whatever happened to us as humans, we leave it to God. For some people, they will want to avenge, but as believers, it is not like that. We have decided to leave everything to God Almighty.
Do you have anything you want to ask of the government. Especially what you want the government to hear?
Yes, there is. What I want to say is that, in this life whatever we have is vanity. Life is like a school. God has taken her life. Deborah’s things are still in Sokoto, her elder brother has stopped their younger ones from going to school because of Deborah’s Education.
When you do not have a good job to do and you have many children, of course you cannot sponsor them to school. All I want is government should help with the education of my remaining children.
How many children do you have?
God blessed us with seven children and Deborah is the second born. Interview with Deborah’s mother (Mrs. Alheri Emmanuel)
How is your health and how are you feeling now?
Well, by the grace of God I am getting better. I left the hospital since yesterday (Saturday), but I still feel pained. I am a bit stable now after I got discharged from the hospital, where I was on admission upon hearing the news of my daughter’s death.
Do you have anything to say about your daughter?
Well, what can I say? It’s so sad to have lost her at such a young age. We were relying on her to help support her younger ones in the future.
Who paid for your treatment?
My husband did, he paid the hospital bills.
Is there anything you want to say or want the government to do?
Well, whatever they have done, God knows it all. I have nothing to say. I just thank God for everything and I appreciate all the concerns and those who have been commiserating with us.
Are the remaining children with you at Tungan Magajiya and what do you want from the government?
Yes, they are with me and schooling, but I have decided that I will not allow any of my children to go to any expensive or distant schools anymore.