Former Information Minister and Peoples Democratic Party for Nasarawa province, Labaran Maku, talks to COLLIN SUNDAY about the assassination of his campaign ambassador, Zakari Umaru-Kigbu, by some gunmen last Saturday.
How was your relationship with the late Zakari Umaru-Kigbu, who was killed last Saturday at his home in Nasarawa?
He was my brother, my friend and my political partner. We met many years ago in Lagos State. We were young at the time but supported each other and lived happily ever after.
At the time, he was working with the Nigerian Air Force. He later resigned, and we both returned to Nasarawa Oblast. Since our return, he has served as president of our cultural group, the Eggon Cultural and Development Association; he also worked with the state-owned Isa Mustapha Agwai Polytechnic in Lafia and served as the National Commissioner of the People’s Commission in Nasarawa State.
He worked with the military using his high school diploma but later earned two different degrees in Mass Communication and Law. He was expecting to go to law school while studying for a PhD at Nasarawa State University in Keffi.
How did you get the news that the gunman had been killed?
It saddens me that for about two hours when criminals try to break into his house, Zakari tried to call the police and the army but failed to rescue him. Some people went to report to the local police station that the police sent only two staff members who came with one firearm but when they saw that the criminals were fully armed, they returned and left Zakari and his family in that condition.
What amazes me is that his house is not far from the road in Azuba Bashayi, Lafia North Development Area in Lafia Local Government Area of the state. By the time the soldiers arrived, she had been killed and taken to her two children. My prayer is that Almighty God will receive his soul and give him eternal rest.
How would you describe maru Kigbu?
He loved God very much. Whenever we met, he always talked about living a happy life that could please God. He was very worried about the way he lived with people. He was not a troublemaker.
Zacchaeus did not sleep at night with anger in his mind. If anyone offended him, he would always forgive him before going to bed at night. He always told me that forgiving people made him happy because that is what God wants for all people. He was patient and always willing to listen to me.
It was sad to find a father dying in a pool of his own blood – a daughter
Who are you to the late Zakari Umaru-Kigbu?
I am the fifth child of Zakari Umaru-Kigbu and his only daughter. My name is Umaru Hajiya Asheku.
Where were you last week on Saturday when he was attacked in the past?
On that difficult day, May 28, 2022, I was in our home with my father, mother, and siblings; we were watching the program on television.
How did this incident really happen?
While we were watching the program my father and mother went into their rooms to sleep. Some of my siblings also fell asleep because the incident happened around 11pm. I was left in the room of another brother, who was transferring some files to his computer. Suddenly we heard gunshots in our compound. One of my siblings quickly ran to lock the kitchen door leading to the back yard. Some of us ran to my father’s room to hide while others hid in our mother’s room. The robbers, fully armed, forced the door open and headed straight for my father’s room. When my father saw that they were coming to his room, he told us to go out and hide in the storeroom.
The attackers tried to break down his door but failed because it was a strong door. They started looking for us. Realizing that they could easily find us in the barn, we went into my mother’s bathroom to hide while praying for God’s help to get out of that situation.
They kept looking for us in the house, wondering where we were. So, while they were searching the house, they heard a commotion in the bathroom where we were hiding. Then they asked us to leave or they would break down the door and shoot us all. Fearful, we refused to leave. So they told some of their members standing outside to shoot us in the bathroom window. So, they started firing but we all bent over while they were shooting.
As the attack continued, Father made several attempts to summon the Nigerian Police Force and the military to assist us, but he did not receive a positive response at that time. So, he had no choice but to leave his room to protect us and that is where they shot him. When we heard the gunshots, we all ran outside and saw him at the bottom of his pool of blood.
How many attackers were there?
There were four occupants of the house but others were in the compound. We also learned from neighbors that some members of the gang had been stationed in several street corners on that fateful night.
Does the family know what caused the attack?
We do not know. We are not bullies; so we did not expect such an attack.
Does the family think there is politics as your father was an ambassador for the one who wanted the position of chief?
Our father was very close to politicians because of the positions he held in the state and his contributions to the growth of society but as I said earlier, we do not know the reason for the attack.
Did your dad tell you, or any of your siblings or moms that you had problems with someone else?
He did not say that to any of us. I don’t think he had any problems with anyone because he was a man of peace. He always forgave those who offended him because he was a devout Muslim.