How police shot my mother during protest – Nasarawa lady

A 24-year-old woman from Nasarawa State, Judith John, shares with ABDULLATEEF FOWEWE how her mother was shot by the police during a peaceful protest in Lafia and the alleged attempt by the police clinic to kill the victim

Can you recall what happened?

I’m Judith John from Lafia, Nasarawa State. I’m a student and the daughter of the woman, Grace John, who was shot by trigger-happy policemen. My mother was among those who peacefully protested ahead of the Supreme Court ruling for the Nasarawa State governorship election on Friday, January 19, 2024. That morning, I received a call from an unknown number instructing me to go to a specific clinic where my mother had been admitted. Upon my arrival at the clinic, I discovered that my mother was bleeding. Shortly after, the doctor informed me that they were unable to provide the necessary treatment and advised us to take her to the police clinic. We rushed her to the police clinic where she underwent surgery.

Following the surgery, the doctors assured us that she was fine and could start eating again. However, the next day when we inquired about the incident, they claimed that it was caused by tear gas. Despite scanning her and maintaining their assertion that it was nothing more than tear gas, a family friend who happened to be a doctor urged us to have her scanned at a different facility when he saw her condition. The scan was conducted and we were informed that blood had accumulated on one side of her stomach. After we received the scan results, we transferred her to a different hospital for surgery. It was during this time that the doctor informed us of a bullet lodged in her stomach. We suspected that the police clinic was attempting to conceal this truth.

However, according to my mother and a witness who corroborated our suspicion, the police shot her. One of the policemen questioned the cop, who fired the shot as to why he shot my mother, but he was unable to explain, and another member of the police squad urged him to stay silent and refrain from disclosing his involvement, as it would jeopardise their safety if his name became known. Even the eyewitness, who rushed to the scene to help my mother, fell unconscious after being struck in the stomach with the butt of a gun by the same policeman who shot my mother. Consequently, the woman also had to be admitted to the hospital.

Is your father alive?

 No, he is late.

 Who took your mum and the other person to the hospital?

Some of the women who participated in the protest took them to the hospital. However, despite taking my mum to the police clinic, we still had to pay for all the services they provided. Meanwhile, despite knowing at the clinic that the police shot my mother, they attempted to cover it up, so that there would not be consequences for them, and that was the main reason they claimed it was tear gas. They were hiding the truth and even attempted to kill my mother before we transferred her to another hospital. They neglected her and did not provide proper treatment; they left her bleeding internally, hoping that she would die. They even scanned her and falsely claimed that they found nothing, despite a bullet being lodged in her stomach. Their actions amounted to wickedness and attempted murder, as they kept her from us and lied about her condition, insisting that it was only tear gas.

 Do you know where their police station is?

No one knows their origin, and it is unfair that the Nigeria Police Force have not reached out to us or shown sympathy.

How are you managing this difficult situation?

It’s challenging because my 22-year-old brother and I are the only ones living with our mother, and I no longer have any time for myself. My only focus is my mother’s health and nothing more.

What was your condition when you received the news?

Before I received a call from the unknown caller, I had been continuously calling my mother’s phone, but it was not reachable. I was extremely restless because I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. I tried to ask her to come home, but all my attempts were unsuccessful. When I received the call from an unfamiliar number, I immediately thought that my mother had passed away and they were trying to conceal it from me until I arrived at the clinic; it was only when I saw her alive but bleeding that I began to believe she was still alive. Despite feeling terrible, restless, and sad, I was emotionally drained and unsure of what I was doing due to the fear of losing my mum, who was bleeding profusely.

Can you share some cherished memories or special moments you’ve had with your mother?

My mother is the happiest person I have ever known, and I will not be able to handle losing her. She has always been incredibly supportive and helpful, a strong and hardworking woman who has taken care of us since our father passed away. However, since the incident, she has been lying there helpless and unable to do anything.

How has this incident impacted your studies?

 It’s significantly affecting my academic pursuits as I should be attending classes by now. However, due to the incident, I haven’t been able to resume school. Even if I were to resume, I can’t leave her unattended, as I’ve been caring for her. Moreover, I will have to commute from home to campus now, as opposed to living on campus before, which isn’t feasible given her health condition. Additionally, I haven’t settled my tuition fees, and I currently don’t have any financial support. I rely on divine guidance to navigate through these challenges.

What is your mother’s current condition?

Her health condition is critical, and we went for a check-up on Wednesday. The doctor informed us that they were concerned about her response to the treatment being administered to her. The doctor said her age makes her respond slowly to treatment. So the doctor prescribed medications for us to buy to help improve her recovery. However, we were discharged from the hospital because we couldn’t afford the bills. Therefore, ever since she was discharged, we have been going for regular checkups at the hospital.

How old is your mother?

She is 63 years old.

Who has been covering the hospital expenses?

Some individuals who visited her at the hospital contributed towards settling the bills, while my siblings have been sending whatever little they can afford. Additionally, we used some of the money for her business to pay off the bills.

How many children does she have?

She has a total of five children, with me being the third. Only my younger brother and I live with her.

Were the police officers who shot at her part of the governor’s convoy?

I don’t believe so. I think they were sent to maintain peace in the state leading up to the Supreme Court verdict. My mother recounted that the police were in full uniform.

Do you have any specific needs or requests regarding your mother’s treatment?

Yes, the doctor said even if she recovers, she may not regain her previous level of strength, which means that she won’t be able to continue her previous job. Moreover, her business has completely collapsed, and we’ve exhausted all our resources on her treatment. She’s our sole provider and has been the one taking care of us since we have no father or other family members. We’re at a loss for what to do now that the doctor has indicated that she may not fully regain her strength post-recovery. We are kindly asking Nigerians for support and assistance.

What is her occupation?

She stores goods and sells rice, corn, and beans in sacks.

Do you have any worries or apprehensions regarding your mother’s journey to recovery?

Yes, I’m extremely concerned because the doctor mentioned that she isn’t responding well to treatment. I’m just praying and hoping for improvement before our next appointment.

How has this experience influenced your perspective on the law enforcement or justice system?

I maintain my belief in our law enforcement agencies. As every organisation has both good and bad individuals, I can’t generalise based on the actions of a few. I still believe that there are honourable individuals within the system.

Have you received any support or aid from friends, family, or community organisations?

We’ve received support from a few friends who visited us at the hospital, and we’re grateful for their concern. Additionally, we’ve received significant assistance from the Peoples Democratic Party in the state. We express our gratitude to God and the party for their care and support.

What do you hope or anticipate for your mother’s rehabilitation and healing?

I simply hope for her strength to return and for her to recover fully. It’s heartbreaking to see her in pain, and I pray for her suffering to cease so that we can return to our normal lives. Our family has faced immense challenges since this tragedy struck.

Are there any legal actions or investigations underway regarding the shooting?

No, there aren’t. Our sole focus is on our mother’s recovery, and we pray for her speedy healing. We don’t plan to pursue any legal action even after she recovers. We hope that the Nigeria Police Force will enhance its training to ensure professionalism among its officers and men. However, my mother has also expressed her reluctance to pursue the matter legally, but if others are willing to address it to combat abuse of power by the police, they are free to do so.

How do you manage your self-care and emotional well-being during this challenging period?

I’m not doing well; we were already facing other difficulties before the incident occurred, and my mother’s health issues have only exacerbated everything.

Have you sought counselling or therapy to address your emotions and trauma?

I felt the need for it, but financial constraints prevented me from pursuing it. Instead, I’ve found solace in self-consolation and the comfort of others. I eagerly wait for the day when this ordeal will be behind us, and happiness will return.

How can people offer practical support or assistance to your family?

We appeal to Nigerians for financial assistance and prayers. May such tragedies never befall any other family. Additionally, I advise caution when dealing with the police, as many of them are not acting professionally.

What message would you like to convey to those who may not fully grasp the impact of police violence on families?

I urge people to view the police as allies, recognising that not all officers are the same. Just as in every organisation, there are both good and bad individuals, and it’s unfair to judge everyone based on the actions of a few.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your mother’s resilience?

It’s been an incredibly challenging experience, unlike anything our family has ever faced.

Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines

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