The "Red Wedding" is considered to be one of the most epic scenes of the fictional blockbuster series "Game of Thrones." In this scene, family members are murdered during a marriage feast as part of political machinations. Sad and horrific, it is a moment of celebration that ultimately turns into the greatest tragedy for a family.
The same fate was to meet a groom and his guests as they were slain in cold blood by the bride's family, a mob in Borong, a village in Demsa area of Adamawa State. The mob ruthlessly lynched a groom and his friends who came from Borno State to wed a daughter of their land.
The groom, Luka Yakubu, himself a Christian and a member of an association of hunters in Kubo-Kanakuru village in Shani Local Government Area of Borno State, invited eight of his Muslim friends to accompany him to meet the parents of his bride-to-be to perfect the wedding process as required by tradition.
Kubo-Kanakuru village is a predominantly Muslim community near the Borno-Adamawa border where Muslims and Christians live in peace with each other.
Groom-to-be Yusuf and his friends, being hunters, dressed in full hunters' uniforms, carrying their locally-made guns and a load of kola nuts. They bid their families goodbye, anticipating a peaceful and celebratory journey.
The groom had arranged with a friend who was also their link man to send word to local hunters in Borong of the details of their journey. This was meant to avoid any conflict and friction that would potentially arise in the community.
However, events were to turn for the worst as they the group rode into Borong on their motorcycles and met with their contact person, who was ready to lead them to the bride's parents in a small community known as Dilli. They caught the attention of some suspicious villagers who raised an alarm that Fulani bandits were there to attack them. In no time youths from the village had mobilised for a 'war' of sorts.
As tension built up, someone quickly alerted the police. They arrived the scene and took eight of the wedding guests into custody, as the ninth had had a flat tyre before they reached the trouble spot, and had stayed behind to fix it.
As the groom-to-be, his party, and their local contact person briefed the local police of the purpose of their journey, a massive protest had started brewing outside the police station, with the mob chanting, and vowing to kill the visitors and dump their bodies in a river.
The police tried to control the mob, which was heating up rapidly. They tried using tear gas but were met with stiff resistance as the crowd was adamant about the threat posed by the outsiders. The mob closed in, eventually overpowering the security personnel. The mob murdered the wedding party without trial, before throwing their bloodied, lifeless bodies into a nearby river.
The sole survivor Alhassan Danladi told Daily Trust Saturday that amid the chaos, he realised the magnitude of the situation and their impending fate, so he tactically sneaked out of the scene during the mayhem, as the mob did not pay attention to him because he was not in uniform.
Danladi, narrating his harrowing ordeal, said the angry mob demanded the police hand them over for jungle justice. "They said if released, we could come back to attack the village. They vowed to kill all of us and dump our corpses in the river. The police fired teargas canisters to disperse the crowd, but they remained undaunted, accusing the police of shielding us," he said.
Danladi continued: "After I sneaked away from the escalating situation at the [police] station, I went to the vulcaniser's workshop where the motorcycle with a flat tyre was being fixed, and sat, pretending to be part of the crowd. I heard them accusing the groom, Luka Yusuf, of conniving with Fulani to launch an attack on them."
Suddenly, a local came running towards Danladi and the group with which he sat and announced that a man had just been killed and thrown into the river. "One man said he was familiar with the person killed, and mentioned he was a Christian. At that point, all of them shouted "Jesus! Our brother has been killed," he added.
Danladi sat there, paralyzed by fear, wondering to himself what would happen if the locals discovered he's a stranger amongst them. While struggling to remain calm and below the radar, he thought about his next line of action. Then another resident brought the news that a second person was killed by the mob and that soldiers and mobile policemen would soon arrive Borrong.
After accepting the news that officers were headed to the town, individuals began scattering, leaving Danladi stranded as he didn't know the way out of the town being a first-time visitor to the village. At that point amidst the perplexity, a man wearing religious robes stopped by with another, and Danladi immediately held onto the chance and requested that they show him with directions. The men came to his rescue and were to show him the way, and the pastor offered a few supplications for his wellbeing.
As the pastor prayed, Danladi pretended to be a Christian and closed his eyes the way Christians do while praying, repeating "Amen, in Jesus' name." Afterwards, the clergyman wished him a safe return to his destination.
As soon as he arrived in his village, he noticed an unusually mournful mood. The news had travelled faster than he did, and people milled around him, all frantically asking "What happened?" Families and friends cried over the loss of eight young men, in one fell swoop. Danladi then went to the palace of the district head to brief him on the bloody outcome of the journey.
When contacted, the acting district head of Kubo Kanakuru, Musa Lawal, expressed shock over the killing of the innocent young men, calling on security agencies to bring the murderers to justice. The traditional ruler told Daily Trust Saturday that the victims left behind a total of 59 orphans and several other defendants. He also urged the authorities to support the children's education and general welfare. He thanked the deputy governor of Borno State, the chairman of the National Hunters Association, and other individuals and groups who paid condolence visits.
The member representing Shani constituency, Ibrahim Musa Inuwa Kubo, assured families of the slain men that government would not relent until justice is delivered, adding that the Borno State governor, his deputy, the Shank LGA council chairman, and himself, have been working to ensure the culprits are punished in accordance with the law.
Adamawa State's police spokesman, DSP Sulaiman Nguroje, said four suspects arrested in Borong in connection with the murder had been charged to court while several others remain at large.
Header Image Credit: Daily Trust