Nigerian media recounted the horror of an attack by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists on a family in the city of Abuja. Deborah Shettima, 48, lost almost everything she had to an attack by the insurgents. She survived, but recalled it recently as the blackest day of her life.
It was in April 2012 that Islamic terrorists shot and killed her husband, a janitor who was preparing that day to minister at his church. She recounted her ordeal in a press conference organized on February 4 by the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN) with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), to aid the victims of Boko Haram’s deadly raids on Christians.
Shettima told the assembled dignitaries and journalists, “On April 25, 2012, I returned from the clinic where I was working as a cleaner. Under the tree where children usually play in front of our house was deserted and this aroused my curiosity. I immediately rushed inside the house, where I met my husband, who was preparing for the evening service.”
“My husband asked that I should give him water to bathe before going to minister in the church. On my way to fetch the water at the backyard, suddenly, I saw five men in a tricycle riding towards our house. I stopped to see who was inside the Keke. Four out of the five occupants came down and ordered me to lead them inside the house. On getting to the sitting room, we met my husband praying. He was ordered to stop and all of us in the house, which included me, my husband, and my two daughters were all ordered to lie down.”
Continuing with her tale of woe, Shettima said “They told my husband that they were in our house to do God’s work. I started begging them because once they say they want to do God’s work: it means they want to kill. They turned their gun from facing my husband and pointed it at me and they threatened to kill me. I started pleading with them, but they won’t listen. In fact, one of them asked why were we not serving the Lord in Muslim way? “
“At this time, my husband said I should not talk again and concentrate on praying. He turned to the wall and said ‘God, I know my time has come to meet with You, please accept my soul into your kingdom. Forgive me of all the sins I have committed and grant me the grace to meet with you.’ The killers shouted at him and roared that despite the gun pointed at my husband, he was still praying to God in Jesus name.”
“My husband did not mind them and kept worshipping God. Suddenly, they started raining bullets on my husband until they ensured that he was dead.
“I started shouting and crying aloud, not minding that I could get killed as well. They moved towards me and pointed their guns at me. One of them used the butt of his gun to hit my right eye, which has remained blind up till now. My two daughters, Bintu, 9, and Baby, 7, started shouting and pleading with the killers not to kill me since they had already killed their father. They retreated, but seized the two girls by their clothes and went away. Up till this day, I have not set my eyes on any of the girls, whether dead or alive.”
“So, right under my very eyes, my husband was shot dead, my two daughters taken away, and three months later, my 17-year-old son was shot dead by the same people.” Shettima lost one eye in the attack.
Authorities aided Shettima in her search for the two abducted girls, but have not encountered any leads.
Visibly shaken in telling her account of the atrocity, Shettima filled in more details. It was three months later that the same terrorists returned for her 17-year-old son. They shot and killed him instantly, on the third anniversary of the leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf.
Sobbing and disconsolate, Shettima continued “By this time, they did not even waste time. The only thing they said was that so we are still going to church? They killed King Solomon, my son who was consoling me over the death of my husband and the abduction of my two daughters and left me totally dejected.”
But her trial was not yet at an end. Supporters of Boko Haram returned to her home and demanded that Shettime leave immediately since she remained a Christian. She and her remaining three children are now destitute and homeless. Shettima begged for help to find her missing daughters and a job to support herself.
The leader of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, Dr. James Fadele, said that CANAN has now contributed $50,000 as initial relief fund for displaced people. Speaking at the conference, “If backers of terrorists are raising the money to perpetuate acts of terror, supporters of and advocates of peace can no longer look the other way. We want to join CAN today to call on Nigerian philanthropists, businesses, captains of industry, well-to-do individuals and all people of goodwill to consider the apparent financial plight of Boko Haram victims and lend a helping hand,” he said.