In the climax of world’s outrage to the killing of a second aid worker, Hauwa Liman, by a faction of Boko Haram, her distraught family are still hopeful she is alive.
Hauwa, who works with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was reported killed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the second aid worker to be killed by the jihadists after Saifura Ahmed.
Her father Mohammed Liman says the heart-breaking news, barely a month after another aid worker – Saifura Ahmed – who was abducted with her in March was killed, is hard to believe.
“We feel so bad and we are in doubt if she is dead or alive because we didn’t expect her to be killed so suddenly,” Liman told Channels Television at the family home in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The family had expected that the insurgents would give the government time to meet their demands.
“In fact, we are in doubt because, unless we see her corpse or any evidence that shows she is dead, we still believe that she is living.
“She is living,” her father insisted with her mother and other women in the home breaking down in tears intermittently.
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Liman appealed to the insurgents to understand that Hauwa was not a warring party and should not have been made to face the ordeal she faced.
“I appeal to the insurgents to release her because she is not a warring party. She is a humanitarian worker. She treats the young and the women and she is so helpful, even to them; not only to the whole society – even to them,” he said.
As many across the world struggle to make sense on the ever-more brutal approach adopted by the terrorists that have ravaged Nigeria’s northeast, Hauwa’s family wants the government to help them get closure.
“We appeal to the government, if she was dead at all, we want the corpse to be brought and we bury her. That will give us peace of mind. Otherwise, we will never forget such an incident in our lives,” her dad pleaded.
Hauwa’s mother, Iyakachi, like her dad, is struggling to make sense of the nightmare she has had to endure.
Despite repeatedly breaking down in tears before speaking to Channels Television, she remains hopeful.
Speaking in Hausa, she explained that she did not expect that it would come to this.
“Up to this moment my mind has not told me that my daughter is dead. Because if you see what happened, these people want money. Now after Buhari agreed that he’d give the money, why is the gap between when he gave his consent and when this incident happened so close?
“If a person wants money and they agreed to give him the money is he supposed to do this? Another thing is they (Hauwa and her colleagues) are humanitarian workers and are not supposed to be killed, and they are women.
“Why were they killed? And the ICRC had already pleaded with them to spare their staff and they even rendered them help as humanitarian workers. If this truly happened then it’s wrong. And, me, I strongly believe, that my daughter is not dead.”
“The government should investigate; if this girl is still alive, they should just bring her back. I don’t need anything except my child. If they can try and confirm that my daughter is well and alive, they should bring her back; that’s all,” she said.
Hauwa and two other aid workers – Alice Loksha and Saifura Ahmed Khorsa – were abducted by ISWAP on March 1, 2018.
While Hauwa and Saifura functioned as health workers with the ICRC, Alice worked with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
They were captured from Rann, a small town in Borno where thousands of internally displaced persons live in an IDP camp.
The raid that led to their abduction was a bloody one with three other female aid workers and some soldiers killed.
Two of the aid workers killed in the attack were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), working as coordinators in the camp believed to contain up to 55,000 IDPs who fled their homes because of the Boko Haram insurgency.