Dying corps member’s last words to killers: God punish them

Lawal Awwal Kontagora graduated from a Malaysian university recently and came home for the National Youth Service. He died at the hands of hoodlums while visiting his fiancee. Mohammed Sabiu reports that the young man’s needless death is a big loss to the family.

THE brutal killing of Lawal Awwal Kontagora, a 26-year-old corps member by suspected hoodlums over a week ago at Gambia Road, Malali, Kaduna, has continued to generate reactions. The question on the lips of sympathisers, family members and the deceased’s friends was: what was his offence?

Lawal had recently bagged a Masters degree from a Malaysian University and was observing the one year compulsory service.

According to one of the deceased’s siblings, Yusuf Kontagora, “the day my brother was killed, October 17th, 2016, will forever remain a black day for the family. My late brother was full of life. He did not show any sign that he would be leaving us that day. We ate and prayed together on that fateful day before deciding to visit his fiancée’s house at Malali.

“Later around 10.30 p.m, we received a call from his friend that my brother had been shot by unidentified gunmen and that he was now laying on the ground helpless, in a pool of his blood.

“I hurriedly contacted a military officer who is a friend of the family and we rushed to the scene of the incident. We saw him gasping for breath. Immediately, we took him to Garkuwa Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead by the doctors who examined him.”

Narrating how Lawal was killed, one of his cousins who pleaded for anonymity told Sunday Tribune that the hoodlums met the deceased in his Peugeot 407 car with his fiancée and while they were still inside the car, his killers went to her side and asked the duo to alight from the car.

“When they alighted from the car, the hoodlums asked them to all kneel down and hand over their phones. They collected Murja (his fiancée)’s phone, but his own phone was inside the car. As he crawled to pick the phone, one of the killers thought he was trying to escape. So, he shot him at close range on his thigh. He fell down, another one brought out an offensive object and put it on his neck and forcefully dragged him to the ground, thus, damaging his skull,” he said.

When the Sunday Tribune visited the family house, located at Jabi Road, sympathisers were trooping in to commiserate with the bereaved family. Among the early callers was Senator Shehu Sani, who said he read about the murder of the young man in one of the national dailies.

While, condoling with the family, the senator promised to ensure that the perpetrators of the act were brought to justice.

“This sad event happened in my senatorial district and we must bring the wanton killings of innocent souls in my district to an end,” he said.

Also, reacting to the incident, the state coordinator of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), Mohammed Mommoh described the death of the corps member as a shock and a big loss. “NYSC has confirmed the death of a corps member who was attacked by hoodlums at Malali.”

Mommoh further tasked the police and other security agencies to trail and fish out the perpetrators.

Lawal’s best friend, Umar Muhammad Muktaqa, also spoke on the event of that fateful night. Speaking with Sunday Tribune, Umar said: “Awwal was my friend. I have been with him for the past 15 years. For the past four years, we slept in the same room, we eat together, went out together. He was a kind person, somebody with a good character. He was reserved, cool-headed, in fact, I never saw him quarrel with anybody. He was a very quiet person.”

Umar stated that on that fateful day, he spoke with the deceased 40 minutes before his death. “We were supposed to go to his fiancée’s house together. But somehow, we missed each other. He phoned to tell me that he was already at her place.

“I wasn’t at home either, so I told him I was at Kinkino Road. So we both agreed to go to his fiancée’s house the following day. But Allah knows best,” he told the Sunday Tribune.

Recounting her last moment with her son, Lawal’s mother, Hajiya Hafsat Lawal Kontagora, a Director at the National Teachers Institute, Kaduna, remarked that she was in a better position to speak on her son.

“Since he was born, up to the time he breathed his last, his dad, his step mother, his aunties, his brothers and cousins will tell you, he never quarrelled with anyone. In fact, he settled quarrels in the house. He was somebody with a large heart. Trouble was not in his dictionary.

“Two weeks before his death, he told me, ‘Mummy I don’t have this feeling of keeping malice or picking a quarrel with anyone.’ He said after all, what is there in this world.

“The night before the night he died, he was trying to fix my apple laptop with a Microsoft, but he tried in vain. He bought an Apple laptop for me. In fact he saved his school allowance to buy it for me. And when he brought it, I felt bad and promised to refund his money, which I eventually did.

“Unfortunately, when I travelled to Ghana, I lost the laptop he bought for me. He insisted I got another one, which I did. It was this one that he was trying to fix and it was getting late, I think around 11.30 p.m.

“I told him I wanted to sleep. The following day, he came to me, and he said ‘mummy I want to ask you for a little amount of money.’ He was just moving around and finding it difficult to tell me that he needed just N6,000 to give to the mechanic who fixed his car. We trusted him with money. When you sent him to get money for you, he would withdraw the exact amount. He doesn’t even care to know how much you have left. I told him, you have all my ATM cards and you are asking me for money. He said, ‘I know mummy, but I have to seek for your consent.’

“On that fateful day, I was to travel, I sent his cousin to collect my ATM cards, but he insisted that he would bring it himself to bid me farewell. I could recall when he came; he bent down to greet my driver. He promised to call me when I got to my destination.  He called around 2.30 p.m and later in the evening around 6.15 p.m he called again. That was the last time I spoke to him.”

The father of the deceased, Alhaji Lawal Umar Kontagora, was philosophical and calm when Sunday Tribune met him. The man, who holds the traditional title of Danmalikin Kontagora paid tribute to his son.

“He was a nice boy. People around would testify to his character. All I would say is, we were lucky to have a son like him. We were blessed to have him. We spoke two hours before his death. I was sleeping when his step-mother woke me up to tell me that he had been shot and wounded by unknown persons. I went to the toilet and had my ablution. God being the kindest of all, I took everything as God’s will. I could feel that he is gone. Later, his elder brother came to tell me that he passed on. When he was breaking the news to me, he fell on my body and the people around shouted do you want to kill our father.

“I was told that the cutlass they used on his head resulted in his sudden death. According to his fiancée, when my son touched his forehead and saw blood on his palm, he said, ‘what have I done to them, God punished them.’ He knew from that point, he would not make it. May Almighty Allah have mercy on him.”

Meanwhile, the police have said it had arrested two people in connection with the murder. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state command, ASP Aliyu Usman, confirmed this while speaking with Sunday Tribune in Kaduna.

Investigation by Sunday Tribune revealed that one of the suspects, one Jamiliu, also known as Baba lado is a bus driver and resides in Kwaru in Malali Badarawa District of Kaduna North Local Government Area.

The second suspect, simply called Zaki is a bricklayer working at a site behind Badarawa Primary School, Kaduna.