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Orphaned by terrorists (styled bandits)

This is culled from a story in ThisDay Newspaper.

Musa and his brother Ahmed, whose parents were killed by terrorists (traditionally styled bandits in Nigeria) in Tsauwa village of Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State, have been left on the street without parental care as their sisters were also massacred in the same attack, writes Francis Sardauna in ThisDay Newspaper.

The atmospheric weather condition of Katsina was cold after a heavy downpour that lasted for two hours on a recent Thursday morning, but Musa Muhammed and his younger brother Ahmed seemed oblivious of the weather.

They had more pressing needs as they moved from one restaurant and stranger to the other with their bowls outstretched and their faces solemn enough to extract empathy.

Their parents were among the 31 people killed by bandits in Tsauwa village of Batsari Local Government Area of the state last year. Following the death of their breadwinners, these children have been forced to grow up fast. Daily, they have been exposed to extremely harsh living conditions and are often perpetually in lack.

Accordingly, Musa and his brother, who now live with their Islamic teacher, Mallam Sagir in the Rahamawa community within Katsina City, are facing serious challenges ranging from lack of food, water, proper accommodation, and a stable caregiver that will spearhead their affairs. Thus, the innocence of childhood has been tanned out of them.

On the day THISDAY stumbled on them, Musa’s face was scrolled up in a frown. It was difficult to believe he was only 13 years old. He had grown up so suddenly, with the heavy burden of providing for himself and his six-year-old brother, Ahmed.

Their father, Muhammed, whom they said was a big-time millet and beans farmer in the village, was killed with their mother, Fatima, and their “corpses burnt” by the marauding bandits. More disturbing, both of them do not know the whereabouts of their stepmother, who led them out of the gory massacre to the Katsina metropolis.

The 13-year-old orphan, who was seen with his younger brother that fateful Thursday at Glorious Restaurant opposite United Bank of Africa (UBA) in Kofar-Kaura, Katsina metropolis, begging for alms to feed themselves, was reluctant to talk until he was sure a token would drop into the red bowl he held in his hand.

With an N500 “lift” Musa, whose younger (Ahmed) was crying for water, became willing to answer some of the journalist’s questions. Musa, who couldn’t control his emotions while narrating their ordeals to THISDAY, said: “Some people attacked our village (Tsauwa) last year and killed my father, Muhammed, and our mother, Fatima. They also killed my elder sisters—Khadijah and Hafsatu. They attacked the village in the night and after their operation, I saw the lifeless bodies of our father, mother, and two of my sisters.”

After the attack on Tsauwa village, Musa said their stepmother told them that the perpetrators killed many women and children, kidnapped and raped many other women. They also burnt their silos and carted away many cows in the village. He added that the scenario left them aground, wandering with no parental care and struggling for survival.

Musa further explained that they were sleeping when the marauders invaded the village, saying it was after the bandits ransacked the village that their stepmother, Zainab brought them to Katsina and “handed us over to one Mallam Sagir in Rahamawa.”

“Since last year, we have not seen our stepmother and life is now unbearable for me and my younger brother. We do follow other Al-majirai to other parts of Katsina city to beg for alms but most at times, they collect what is meant for us so we stopped following them for begging”, Musa added as he cried uncontrollably.

Sadly enough, these children have had to witness agonizing events as they roam the streets begging for alms. “Sometimes, we beg for the whole day without getting a kobo or food to eat,” Musa said. The condition of living that Musa and his brother are in at the movement is a recipe for trauma because they are exposed to the physical trauma of cold, rain, and sun.

The consequence of this, for these orphans, is that they can become dangerous to themselves and society. They can be easily recruited for criminal activities.

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