When Fatima Babagana, a student of the University of Maiduguri, joined her uncle for a ride from Maiduguri, she probably did not know that she would not make it to Postiskum, her destination in Yobe.
Babagana was among the 30 people killed when Boko Haram attacked stranded travellers in Auno last week.
In an interview with CNN, Babagana’s uncle, who reportedly did not want his name to be mentioned, said the insurgents launched the attack when most of them were asleep.
He said his niece, who wanted to be a journalist, was shot in the head because the attackers could see the light from her phone which she was fiddling when they struck.
He said they ended up spending the night at Auno because on their way to Potiskum, soldiers at a roadblock in Benisheikh, a town 45 miles west from Maiduguri, ordered them to go back for their safety.
Babagana’s uncle said the officers had warned them that they could be ambushed by Boko Haram. He said they heeded the military’s advice and quickly turned back without knowing that a more perilous journey was ahead.
They traveled for another hour before encountering another military blockade in Auno village, one of the gateways into Maiduguri, and they decided to sleep in the car till the next morning.
“Fatima was sitting in the backseat and typing on her phone. They saw the light from the phone because it was very dark. Next thing I knew, they had shot her in the head,” he reportedly said.
Babagana’s uncle said while the insurgents kept shooting at people in the attack that lasted for about four hours, he and his friend, who was also in the car, managed to escape into the bush.
He said they would later see smoke billowing from where they had fled from.
“I wept all night. I kept thinking about what these terrorists would have done to her and others that were there,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Babagana’s uncle said when they returned to the scene of the attack on Monday morning, the cars were still burning.
“We tried to put out the fire, but we were helpless. It was just too hot,” he said.
Speaking when he visited the scene of the attack, Babagana Zulum, Borno governor, accused soldiers meant to secure the community of deserting the people around 5pm on a daily basis.
“I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeal for the military to establish their unit in Auno,” he had said.
“They are here but as soon as it is 5 pm, they close the gate and lock the people and go back to Maiduguri. This is not right.”
President Muhammadu Buhari visited Borno to condole with the people over the killings but he did not get to Auno.
Angry residents had booed Buhari in Maiduguri.