Mecca Stampede: Monarch, Wives Feared Killed
• Atiku, El-Zakyzaky, CISLAC Condole With Victims’ Families
THE traditional ruler of Zing, Taraba State, Alhaji Abbas Ibrahim, and two of his wives may have died in the stampede, which happened in Saudi Arabia, last week.
The tragedy claimed the lives of more than 700 people and left as many wounded. The emir and his wives were among hundreds of Muslim that left the state for the yearly pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Sympathizers have since been pouring into the palace, expressing grief and shock over the sad incident.
Although the deaths have not been officially confirmed by the state government, associates and family members of the ruler said he and his wives would be greatly missed.
“Kpanti (as he is fondly addressed) was a very good leader who worked round the clock to ensure peace in his domain. He didn’t care which religion you practised or which ethnic group you belonged to. All he was after was peace. He tried as much as possible to embrace all people he came across,” one community member said tearfully.
The Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) has also expressed shock over the death of Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, its former national leader and veteran journalist, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Mairo Sani, leader of FOMWAN in Plateau State, described the deceased as “God-fearing and compassionate woman.”
Sani, in Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday, said: “Bilkisu will be remembered for her humility, as a mentor, mother to all, an advocate of peace and someone whose door was open to anyone that required her counsel.”
Sani added that the late Bilkisu would be remembered for her doggedness in championing the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons affected by insurgency in the North East.
NAN reports that the late Bilikisu was the first female editor from Northern Nigeria. She worked as editor of the New Nigerian Newspapers and the Citizens magazine in Kaduna. She also worked with the Triumph Newspaper in Kano and as a columnist.
The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) yesterday described the death of Bilkisu as unfortunate.
Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole, National President of the association, said Yusuf’s death came as a heavy blow to the association. She observed that the deceased had contributed in no small way in the training and mentorship of young female journalists.
“The sudden demise of Yusuf at a time when the association and the nation needed such outspoken woman journalist is disheartening. She was an exemplary member of the association and a veteran journalist of international repute, a columnist, journalist ombudsman and civil society activist. NAWOJ, therefore, prays to God to grant her immediate family, the association and all Nigerians the fortitude to bear the loss,” Omowole said.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar also expressed deep regret and sorrow over the Mecca tragedy.
A statement by his media office in Abuja, yesterday, described the incident as one of the saddest accidents to have befallen Muslims in recent memories.
The former Vice President noted that such colossal loss of human life was rare and remarkably regrettable, adding that the Muslim world should be united in grief and offer prayers to God to avert this kind of accident of calamitous proportion.
Atiku Abubakar described the late Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf “as the shining light of journalism profession in Nigeria, and a pride to Northern Nigeria for being the first female Editor of the North’s two major newspapers – The Triumph and The New Nigerian.”
He noted that the late Bilkisu Yusuf was not only an outstanding editor, but also an internationally recognised activist on women and development issues.
Prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, also condoled with the families of Nigerians who lost their lives in the stampede, including Hajiya Bilikisu Yusuf and the Deputy Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Professor Tijjani Abubakar Miskin.
SheIkh El-Zakzaky in a statement in Kaduna yesterday, expressed sadness and grief over “the death of Hajiya Bilkisu, Prof El-Miskin, and others.” He prayed that God would grant the families of the deceased the fortitude to bear the loss.
The Board, Management and Staff of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in a condolence message to the family and colleagues of Hajiya Bilikisu Yusuf, described the deceased as a rare breed that would be missed by the country.
In a statement yesterday, the group said: “We mourn the death of a reputable Nigerian anti-corruption crusader, human right and gender activist, and the first northern female editor.”