The most heartrending story I’d read in recent times, is no doubt the tragic tale of young Zubairu Yusha’u. For those who might have read it, you may recall that he is the Gombe teenager whose two hands were amputated after the punishment he received from his tsangaya teacher rendered them useless.
It is so unfortunate that a healthy boy has been made a disabled by the sheer heartlessness of the man in whose care he was entrusted. According to Aminiya and the Daily Trust on Saturday, young Zubairu was accused by a lady of stealing her small Tecno handset. When she reported the theft to his teacher, the Quranic school pupil quickly produced the phone and explained that he saw it lying around and thought it was a spoilt phone, cast away by its owner. Apparently, his teacher Malam Surajo Muhammad wasn’t convinced by this explanation, though the phone had been returned to it’s owner. So taking the law into his hands, Surajo tied up Zubairu hands with a rope and sent his to sit in the sun.
In no time at all, the hands began to swell, a situation made worse by the fact that Zubairu kept trying to untie himself by rubbing the hands together.
After he was untied, they resorted to self-medication in a condition that needed urgent hospital care. In short Zubairu’s case worsened and by the time he was finally in hospital, the doctors had no option but to amputate what had become his gangrenous limbs.Now all the teacher had to say was that he had about 1500 almajirai pupils in his care and had been in the business for the past 27 years without any such occurrence. He therefore appealed to Zubairu’s father for pardon and was promptly granted. But I don’t believe this is enough to end the matter. Though Malam Suraj is in police custody, it is my ardent hope that when he gets to court, the judge will rule that he gets his two hands cut off as well. This is a case that deserves ‘an eye for an eye’ verdict. We must invoke the old Mosaic law in order to give this teacher a taste of his own medicine and to deter other overzealous disciplinarians from meting this kind of inhuman treatment on their pupils.
I mean, in a matter of days he had turned a healthy teenage boy to a handicapped person for life. If Zubairu was begging to eat, as an ordinary almajiri, he may now beg as his only means of survival, since he is now disabled. How can the man who caused his doom be left scot-free?
The only ray of hope in Zubairu’s tragedy is the interest Gombe state government has shown in his case. According to media reports, the governor has instructed the state’s commissioner for women affairs to visit him and take care of his medical bills. The government also resolved to provide him with artificial limbs when he is well enough to have them.
It is also heartening to know that the state commissioner for justice, has told Zubairu’s father that the government will do all in its power to ensure justice for the boy. At least with the weight of government on his side, it is safe to assume that Malam Surajo will get the punishment he deserves.
Meanwhile men like Malam Yusha’u, Zubairu’s father should learn their lesson from the tragedy that befell his son. Reports say he bundled Zubairu, who was ten and his seven year old brother and brought them to Malam Surajo, as soon as they lost their mother three years ago. Why couldn’t he remain with his orphaned sons and take care of them himself? Why should he expect a total stranger to provide a parent’s love and care to his children, when he wasn’t willing to do so himself?
It’s really high time Northern governors come together to enact laws that will prohibit any one from taking their children to any town apart from their place of residence, for Qur’anic studies. This will surely make parents alive to their responsibilities and end the physical and mental abuse of almajirai.