The family of Fatima Babagana, a 19-year-old student of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) who was part of about 30 people killed last Sunday by Boko Haram fighters, have been left heartbroken.
Although Ms Babagana is only one out of the many who were burnt to death and others reportedly abducted, her case has drawn attention since the incident occurred, with colleagues and teachers at school paying tributes on social media.
Babagana was recently offered admission to study political science after a diploma in mass communication. She told people of her desire to become a journalist.
Her dream came to an end after the militants set fire on stranded travelers caught in a roadblock in the remote village of Auno.
Dozens of travellers were prevented by soldiers from passing through the village marked as one of the gateways into Maiduguri. The soldiers, Babagana’s uncle told CNN, said they had missed the 4pm curfew.
The uncle, who did not want to be named for fear of being attacked, said they had to pass the night in their vehicles.
At the time the militants arrived in droves shooting everyone in sight, most of them were asleep, he said.
“Fatima was sitting in the backseat and typing on her phone. They saw the light from the phone because it was very dark. Next thing I knew, they had shot her in the head,” her uncle said.
According to him, they kept shooting at people fleeing into the bushes.
Babagana’s uncle said he was able to escape with his friend. They later saw flames and smoke billowing from where they had fled. The attack lasted more than four hours.
Borno State governor’s media aide, Isa Gusau, told CNN that 18 vehicles, including those carrying food and other goods to be taken to a market the next day were burnt.
Her mother, Hafsat, told Daily Trust on Saturday via a telephone interview that Babagana was planning to get married in March.
“I am pained by the state they left my daughter’s remains. It wasn’t enough that they shot her dead, they went ahead and burnt her beyond recognition. They should’ve left her body for us to see and give her a befitting burial,” she said.
Babagana’s remains, which were recovered from the burnt car, have been buried, her uncle said.
Her father is a soldier fighting in Maiduguri under Operation Lafiya Dole. Hafsat said he was injured recently, went through surgery and was on six months leave. He left Kano for Maiduguri on Monday morning when the family got the news.
Hafsat blamed the soldiers for the attack, saying they were ‘reckless’ and ‘careless’.
“Since they knew that they were not going to pass the night there, they should have allowed them and this unfortunate incidence would have been averted. They blocked the road and vanished into thin air,” she said.
On a condolence visit to the state on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari was booed by a crowd of people in Maiduguri.
Buhari came directly from Addis Ababa, where he had been attending an African Union Summit for heads of state. He met with rulers and security agencies in the state asking for their support in the fight against the militants, according to a statement from his media aide, Garba Shehu.