Saturday, 2 May 2020

Faces Of Prominent Nigerians That Died Due To The Strange Illness In Kano

Since the news of mass deaths, especially of the elderly in Kano on April 21, the number of deaths has continued to surge. Kano is in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80 new cases recorded in the state on Thursday alone, making it the second in the country. With 219 confirmed cases and three deaths attributed directly to the disease, Kano has overtaken Abuja in second place, with 178 cases and second only to Lagos with 976 cases. With hundreds of deaths recorded in the state in the last couple of weeks, the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammed Garba said the deaths were unconnected to the COVID-19, but mostly caused by complications from other health conditions.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said the unexplained deaths were not out of the ordinary. During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 earlier in the week, the minister said, “There’s national concern about the sharp increase of COVID-19 positive cases in Kano, concentrated in seven municipal council areas and also about certain so-called ‘unexplained’ deaths. The authorities have explained that the latter were not out of the ordinary.” After the broke the story of the unexplained deaths on Tuesday, April 21, with 150 people buried within three days, the state government at first denied the deaths before explaining that it was not unusual.

However, the authorities have decided to adopt verbal autopsy to determine the causes of the unexplained deaths as autopsy is frowned at by the “religion and culture of our people,” as the government said. Dr. Tijanni Hussein, the state coordinator, Technical Response Team on COVID-19, said they had since started investigations by administering questionnaires and conducting verbal autopsies to determine the causes of deaths and the exact figures.

“We will get to the bottom of this. And whenever this investigation is concluded, we will make known our findings,” he said. However, concerns have continued to rise over the unexplained deaths, with very prominent senior citizens of the state passing away within days April 25 especially witnessed the passing away of dozens of prominent Kano citizens, amongst numerous others. Some of those who died on April 25 were the former chairman, of the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC) during the Obasanjo administration from 1999 to 2003, Professor Ibrahim Ayagi. The late Ayagi was a schoolteacher, university lecturer and former commissioner in Kano State who oversaw two ministries at a time. He held various positions in different financial institutions in the country. Also, his contributions in the education sector, especially in the development of science secondary schools in Kano, have been lauded.

Before his death, he was the chief executive officer of the prestigious Hassan Ibrahim Gwarzo Secondary School, named after his good friend, the late Grand Qhadi of Kano. The renowned economist, who grew up as an orphan, enrolled in school at the age eight and remained in the academic circle, rising to become a professor. He was a notable critic of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to a family source, Prof Ayagi, who was born in 1940, was ill for a long time. However, the exact illness he suffered from was not disclosed.

He was buried according to Islamic rites at the Dan Dolo Cemetery in the ancient city of Kano. On the same day, a former executive secretary of the State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) during the Shekarau administration, Alhaji Adamu Isyaku Dal, died and was buried at Gandun Albasa Cemetery. A family friend told Daily Trust Saturday that the late Alhaji Adamu, like Prof. Agayi, had been ill for a while, but his condition worsened in the last few days. Another high profile death recorded on the same day is that of a former editor of Triumph newspapers, Malam Musa Tijjani.

He too died after a protracted illness and was buried the same day. Also Alhaji Garba Dambatta, a younger brother to the late Alhaji Magaji Dambatta, died early on that day and was interred at Dan Dolo. “We are mourning the last of the family’s elderly member. He had been a father to all of us, but and as God willed, he is no more today. May his soul rest in peace,” one of his sons, Hussaini Dambatta said. A famous Kannywood artist, Ado Gwanja, also lost his mother on that same day. She too was buried at Gandun Albasa Cemetery. Musa Gwanja, a family member, described her death as a vacuum that cannot be filled again. “Hajiya died during this period when the elderly are dying. To us, it is an epidemic, but as Muslims, we believe she has attained the shahada,’’ he said. Also on the same day, Dr Sabo Kurawa, 75, a founding member of the Sociology Department of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), passed on after a brief illness. Sabo, who earned his PhD in 1977, retired from the BUK a few years ago.

He will always be remembered for his contributions to the establishment of the Department of Sociology in the university he served for decades. He too was buried at Dan Dolo. One of the most prominent deaths in that period was that of the doyen of Mass Communication at BUK, Prof. Balarabe Maikaba. He died on April 26, 2020 after a brief illness at his residence near the university. The father of 16 and husband of four wives was buried that evening. Prominent Kano women are also not left out in the season of deaths as Malama Halima Shitu, 55, a pioneer female Hisbah commander in Kano died on April 27. The mother of six died after a brief illness, leaving behind her husband, Sheikh Abdulwahab Abdullah, a prominent Kano-based Islamic scholar and preacher. Among her children is Malam Abdullah Abdulwahab, a system analyst at BUK. Malama Halima had

contributed greatly to the development of the Kano Hisbah command. He also contributed to the development of Islamic scholarship in the state. She was the chairperson of the Association of Muslim Women in Africa (AMEWA). She featured regularly in several radio and television programmes to educate the public on Islam. Also, Dr. Uba Adamu, a former sole administrator of Kano between 1970 and 1975, passed on the night of April 25. He left 17 children behind, including the vice chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu and Zahra’u Uba Adamu, a lecturer in the College of Arts, Science and Remedial Studies, Kano. According to his daughter, Malama Zahra’u, her father was ill for quite a long time before his death. “Baba is gone. He has been a father and friend to all of us. May Allah forgive all his shortcomings, and may he make Aljanna Firdausi his final abode,” she said. The late Adamu got his PhD in Political History at BUK and was a lecturer in the Kano State Polytechnic before he retired. Subsequent prominent deaths also include those of a former director of finance, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala, Alhaji Salisu Ado. He died Wednesday morning at Dala. Unlike the other cases, Alhaji Ado was admitted with severe breathing difficulties.

Also, a former commissioner for education and former executive director in one of the state’s agencies, Alhaji Aminu Yahya, passed away and was buried at GATC quarters, Kabuga, Kano. Hajiya Hamma Akilu, mother to a former director, Directorate of Military Intelligence, Brigadier -General Haliru Akilu, died at the age of 100 on Wednesday. Her son, General Akilu, was a high-ranking intelligence officer, who also served as director of the National Intelligence Agency and Chief of Defence Intelligence. Her grandson, Malam Aminu Akilu, said his grandmother passed away on Wednesday morning after a protracted illness. She has since been buried in Tarauni. April 27 saw the passing on of Sheikh Tijjani Tukur Yola, 86, a former chief imam of Murtala Friday mosque.

 A former Grand Khadi of Kano State, Uztaz Dahiru Rabi’u, born 1948, also died. According to family sources, the late Rabi’u had been battling an ailment before succumbing severe fever. Dr Ghali Kabir, a former head of the Department of Architecture, Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil, also passed away. The vice chancellor of the university, Prof. Shehu Alhaji Musa, announced Kabir’s death. Similarly, the first Hausa man to become a professor of Anatomy in Nigeria, Aliyu Umar Dikko, died on April 25, aged 65. Before his death, he was the head of the School of Medicine, Maitama Sule University, Kano

. He left behind a wife and seven children. Alhaji Aliyu Daneji, father of the national coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, also died. A source close to the family said Alhaji Daneji died Wednesday in Kano at the age of 96 after a protracted illness. Alhaji Daneji was a permanent secretary in the Kano State Ministry of Finance from 1972 to 1975. He was also a district officer in Niger, Benue and Plateau states.

 He was also the chairman, Kano Cooperative Bank and Kano Foundation. In a condolence message, an elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who worked with Daneji as permanent secretary while he was the commissioner for finance, described him as an astute, honest and dedicated civil servant. The deceased, whose funeral prayers were observed early on Thursday at his Sabuwar Kofa residence, was buried the same day. Hundreds of people have died since the incidents were first reported. And the authorities are still investigating the causes of the deaths.

Source:Daily Trust

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