Boy, 13, Loses Limbs For ‘Stealing’ Phone

For 13-year-old Almajiri pupil, Zubairu Yusha’u’s, it is no fun has he had both hands amputated following a punishment by a proprietor of his Tsangaya School in Gombe after he allegedly stole a mobile phone.

The second child in the family, Zubairu was born in Lakkau village of Yamaltu Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State. He left home three years ago alongside his brother of seven years, shortly after the demise of their mother while giving birth.

Zubairu and his brother were enrolled in the Tsangaya school with a population of over 1, 500 Almajirai pupils in Kagarawal area in the outskirt of Gombe metropolis.

Despite his young age, Zubairu and his brother alongside several other children in the same age bracket spent a lot of time roaming the streets than they do to learn at the school.

On March 3, 2018, Zubairu, as usual went to beg for alms when he sighted a mobile phone abandoned in one of the houses he frequented for food. He took the phone thinking it was not useful and was using it as a toy.

However, after three days, the owner of the phone came to his school, where she reported that her phone was stolen by Zubairu when he went to beg for alms.

“On that fateful day, a lady who was the owner of the phone came to his teacher and reported that she suspected that my son has stolen her phone and demanded for it,” Zubairu’s father, Malam Yusha’u narrated.

He added: “When Zubairu overheard them speaking about the phone, he quickly turn it over and apologized saying he thought the phone was dumped and out of use that was why he took it. However, not satisfy with his explanation, his teacher asked for a rope which he used to tied his hands and left him under the sun, by the time he untie him already the hands have swollen and got infected.

“At the beginning, he was administering some traditional herbs, but when the wound was deteriorating, he called and informed me about the incident. By the time I arrived he was already taken to hospital by the police. Unfortunately it was too late, doctors at the Federal Hospital, Gombe, have to cut off his hands to prevent infection from reaching other parts of his body,” Yusha’u said.

On Sunday at the Gombe State Police Command headquarters, when he was paraded by the police, Malam Suraj Mohammed, 50, the Proprietor of the Tsangaya school explained: “An Almajiri pupil under my care committed a crime by stealing a phone, when the matter was reported to me, I pressed him and he admitted that he stole the phone and hid it in a refuse dump site. The phone was later found in the location he described to us, but we couldn’t find the battery and the SIM card.

“He attempted to run away and escape punishment and therefore I used a rope to bound him and prevent him from running away. Afterwards, my attention was needed at my private house, which far away from the Tsangaya.

“When I returned after an hour, I was told that the boy’s hands had swollen and got injured when he was struggling to untie himself. I immediately asked them to free him.

“When he was brought to the hospital, doctors told us that his hands were badly infected and have to be amputated to prevent the infection,” he said.

According to him, it was the first time anything of such happened at his Tsangaya noting that for over 27 years teaching in the Tsangaya with over 1, 500 pupils he was never found wanting.

“I regretted what I did to him and I am calling on proprietors of Tsangaya schools and other members of the public to exercise patience whenever they are provoked by their children or people under their care,” the proprietor noted.

When on Sunday visited Zubairu’s hospital bed, he narrated his own side of the story collaborating what happened.  “While coming out from the house that morning, I saw a phone abandoned outside, picked it thinking that it was not in use. Then about three days later, I overheard my teacher speaking with the purported owner, telling him that her phone was stolen, I rushed and told them that the phone is with me.

“But Malam Suraj was not satisfied with my explanation and was angry that I stole the phone. He asked for a rope and tied my hands. He left me in that stage under the sun and by the time I was freed, my hands have swollen. I was later brought to the hospital and when I woke up, I saw bandage and my hands gone,” he said.

Gombe State Commissioner of Police, Mr Tairu Shina Olukolu said the police is still investigating the case.

“The case is still under investigation, we are also waiting for the boy to be discharged from the hospital, to determine the next line of action and what charge to proffer against the suspect before we take him to court,” he said.

Our correspondent also gathered that since Zubairu was brought to Gombe three years ago, he never visited home, with only his father coming to see him at intervals and that is the bane of many other Almajirai children.