The old practice of “lost but found” seems to have lost acceptability among people nowadays, especially where the item is of some value, like a sizeable amount of money.
However, the story is different with Malam Kiri Umaru, a Damaturu-based commercial driver, who returned over N1.7 million he found at different times to their rightful owners.
Despite spending about 40 years conveying passengers and goods between towns and villages in cars he drove for others, Umaru’s honesty has not allowed him to even think of keeping for himself, the money he has found forgotten by their owners at various places and times.
Aged 60, Umaru is married to two wives and has 12 children who all depend on what he gets from his job as a driver.
He said the last amount of money he found and returned to the owner was N1,380,000.
He found it in a sealed bag and took it to the leadership of the drivers’ union to be returned to the rightful owner.
Umaru explained that he had loaded passengers on his way to Gashua from Dapchi on that fateful day.
“On approaching Garin Alkali from Bayamari, I sighted a nylon bag abandoned by the roadside and I became curious so I asked my passengers to excuse me and I parked.
“I took the bag but hid before opening it, only to discover that it was full of money.
“I put it in my car boot without informing any of the passengers what I found.
“Upon reaching Gashua, after all the passengers have disembarked, I drove to the leadership of my union, the road transport union.
“We counted the money together and I handed all the money to them to find and hand it over to the owner.
“On returning to Damaturu, I received a call that the owners of the money had been found and they insisted they wanted to see me, but I told them I couldn’t return to Gashua.
“They were so excited and they thanked me immensely.
“You may not know it but that was not the only money I found and returned to their owners; I have at different times also found N150,000, N50,000 and the last one was N1,380,000 and returned all the monies owners,” he said.
On what motivated him to return all money he found to their owners, Umaru said, “I passionately believe that whatever I found not from my sweat is not meant for me.
“Of course money, over one million naira, was huge to anyone in my class; it can pay for a new car, and I found it all alone, without anybody knowing, including my passengers.
“But I would not have peace of mind if I hold on to it for my use.
“I may get involved in an accident and die in the car as the money is not my legitimate earning.
“So I felt whatever God has not ordained for me would never come my way and I don’t demand any reward for doing what I believe in.”
One of the union leaders, Saleh Bakoro, disclosed that Umaru’s gesture has since earned him respect among his peers.
He said: “To be frank with you, many people want to hire him to drive their cars because he always makes payment to the car owner as agreed.
“We never found him wanting in all the years we have known him.
“He is always honest. In fact, we all want to emulate him.”
He said Umaru had once returned N150,000 he found belonging to a driver who had declined to give him a N3000 loan.
“He was lucky Umaru was the one that found the money.’’
For his uncommon attitude, the Network for Yobe Civil Society Organisations (NYCSO) has traced Kiri Umaru and presented him with an award of ‘Ambassador of Honesty and Contentment’.
While presenting the award, the Executive Director of the network, Alhaji Baba Shehu, noted that finding people such as Kiri Umaru is now very difficult hence the need to honour him.
He also got cash support of N250,000 and food items from Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni in appreciation of his honesty.
The donations, which were handled through the State Focal Person for North East Development Commission, Dr Ali Ibrahim Abbas, were meant to support Umaru to keep to his good principle.
The governor said the token donation was also aimed at encouraging people from all walks of life to imbibe honesty in whatever they do.
Culled from Daily Trust