Sunday 16 October 2016

MY JOURNEY THROUGH HELL – Dogo-Nahawa massacre survivor

Six years after his near death experience in the hands of suspected Fulani herdsmen, Daniel Chuwang, in this highly revealing interview with Shola O’neil, (South-south Regional Editor) opened up on a very traumatic experience and how the Arm of Hope Foundation, has turned his life around.


Even by the recent standard of reprehensible killings in the country, the gruesome murder of children, pregnant women, aged and able-bodied men and women on the night of March 6, 2010 as witnessed in Dogo-Nahawa, was, to say the least, barbaric. Dogo-Nahawa is a sleepy hitherto unknown rural community located in Plateau State. A midnight raid left 354 persons dead and scores others injured. Among the survivors was Daniel Chuwang, a teenager, whose father and two brothers were hacked to death on the mad night.

Daniel was barely 15 when the killings that shook the nation and reverberated throughout the world occurred.

“I was sleeping with my brothers when I heard the first gunshot. Nobody knew what it was because it was not unusual to hear gun shot in the night. But that one was different, because it was not just one single shot as we used to hear.”

When the gunfire died down hours later, over 350 bodies sprawled all over the length and breadth of the northern Nigerian town. Aside corpses, ashes were the only inkling to what used to be house of thousands of denizens of the community. The dead, Daniel recalled, included men, women; some of whom were pregnant, children, babies; some barely weeks old. Countless others were lucky to survive; howbeit with varying degrees of machete and gunshot wounds.

As his mind travelled six years back into that dark, horrific night; the pain was apparent in Daniel’s voice, although the angst of the nightmare-filled days after had receded. His situation is also starkly different. In place of the blood-drenched calico he came away with on the night, he wore a simple but neat pair of trousers and shirt in the comfortable home of his new father and best friend, Apostle Eugene Ogu in a suburb of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. His voice was mellow, in spite of the anguish; the anger and venom of vengeance were missing. He was calm and even smiled intermittently as he told our reporter, not just his encounter with ‘God’, but his transformation from a hopeless teenager to one filled with the ‘glory of Christ’ and hope of a very bright future.

“I was born and raised in Dogo-Nahawa, Plateau State. Everything was peaceful until the fateful night of March 6, 2010, when the crisis began. My father was among those killed and I was badly affected.

“The following morning people were crying and I didn’t know what was happening because I was covered in blood. I was also rushed to the hospital that Sunday.”

His fight for life was punctuated, he said, by images of butchered men and women, the face of a dying woman he couldn’t help and his last glimpse into the panic-stricken face of his brother and relatives. “It was driving me crazy any time I see everything afresh.”

“I was sleeping, myself and my brothers, when we heard the first gunshot. At first, I thought it was my father because he was in one of the armed forces. But then I heard it the second time and I heard noises from the neighbours. I was asking what was happening, but nobody was answering; everybody was running. It was even more difficult for us because my father didn’t sleep at home that night.

“I and my entire family began looking for where to hide and when we got to a particular compound, we didn’t know that those people were there and they all ran and left me. I saw a man with a long knife walking towards me. He tried to cut me, although he missed my throat, he cut my shoulder. That was when I began running without a destination in mind.

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