It was supposed to be a seventh wedding anniversary on June 29 for Khadijah Ahmad and Abubakar Idris. The conjugal union had produced two daughters before tragedy struck.
On August 2, last year, Mr Idris, who is better known as Dadiyata, was abducted by unidentified assailants who seized him from his residence in Barnawa neighbourhood of Kaduna State.
He was returning home at about 1 a.m. that day when some armed men breached his home’s security and whisked him away in his BMW car, the state police said at the time.
It’s almost a year since that happened, neither he nor his car have been found.
“I don’t even know how to start,” Mrs Idris said in a hushed tone when asked how she has been coping. “All I do is to keep praying for him.”
As she spoke, her two daughters, Hanifa, 7, and Fatima, 2, stomped around the room, the younger one intermittently smacking her lips as she fiddled with her mum’s dress.
There are days Hanifa asks Mrs Idris of her dad’s whereabouts. When an unconvincing response comes, the seven-year-old would insist that mum calls dad.
On both occasions, the elusive answers Mrs Idris give are that Hanifa’s dad travelled and his phone was switched off.
The elder daughter, too, is optimistic like her mum. She often tells her sister that their dad, whom she calls Abah, would join them soon.
“She (Hanifa) is even telling her sister that ‘did you see Abah?’ I’m just looking at them,” Mrs Idris said, smiling for the first time during this interview, her smile mirroring both hope and anxiety.
Mr Idris, who should be 35 this year, known for his critical stance against the ruling class, especially the ruling APC, has an appreciable following on the microblogging site Twitter, his virtual activism space.
In his bio on the site, he professes himself as a believer in the Kwankwasiyya ideology, a movement by Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State, and an opposition faction in Kano politics.
He would often tweet condemning the non-payment of salaries in Kogi State, trolling President Muhammadu Buhari for his certificate forgery allegations, and poking jibes at the Kano State governor, Umar Ganduje, who was filmed stuffing bribes into his babanriga, a local outfit worn in the northern part of the country.
— Mr.Ahmad Ilu (@IluAhmad_) August 1, 2019
Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa is a walking contradiction and an ungrateful lad.
He is strategically shortsighted in his thinking. Always fails to see beyond his nose and the next "meal".
— L.A.W (@Jvllvh_) August 1, 2019
Notorious for arresting critics and often times keeping them incommunicado without trial, agents of the State Security Service (SSS) were, at first, fingered for Mr Idris’ bizarre disappearance.
For what she considered an illegal detention, Mrs Idris sued the SSS Kaduna command, the commissioner of police and the state government, seeking the “unconditional release” of her husband and payment of the sum of N50 million in damages.
But, both the SSS and police denied arresting Mr Idris. Their denial deepened worries on what might have been Mr Idris’ fate, especially because his captors have also not demanded a ransom, about a year after.
Regardless, some Nigerians still believe Mr Idris’ disappearance has to do with his critical anti-government political views.
His “disappearance” is at odds with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, a part of which reads: “No circumstances whatsoever, whether a threat of war, a state of war, internal political instability. . . may be invoked to justify enforced disappearances.”
Like his family, a student of the Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina State, where Mr Idris taught History of English Language before his disappearance, Fadilat Dada, yearns his return.
“He was a very serious, jovial and disciplined man,” Ms Dada said, recalling how he encouraged her after she made a “perfect presentation” in one of his classes last year.
Authorities not aware
While the hope for Mr Idris’ return heightens, little has been heard from the nation’s security authorities about his whereabouts. Repeated calls to the Kaduna State police spokesperson, Mohammed Jalige, were unanswered.
When he returned the call and was asked about the update on the search for Mr Idris, he said he couldn’t speak where he was and promised to call back. He did not. Subsequent calls to his line over two days were not answered.
READ ALSO: Kwankwaso speaks on Dadiyata’s disappearance
The state’s police commissioner, Muri Musa, also said he has no information about Mr Idris’ disappearance because he was five months on the job. He asked this reporter to send Mr Idris’ details and promised to give an update tomorrow.
The Kaduna governor’s chief press secretary, Ibraheem Musa, also said it is still “a police matter,” and he is not “competent to comment” as he has no information about the abduction.
Also, the spokesperson of the SSS, Peter Afunaya, declined requests for comments.
Mrs Idris told this reporter that nothing has been heard from both state and federal security operatives either.
“I have not heard anything from them (in a long time),” she said when asked if state security agents give her their assurances.
The only people that give her assurances and hopes are families and friends, she said, and some Nigerians who have been asking: “Where is Dadiyata?”