Hajj: Ex-INEC boss Jega’s brother among dead ….. NATION

Hajj: Ex-INEC boss Jega’s brother among dead

• Appeal court judge, Taraba Amirul Hajj and 2 wives also
• Nigerian dead now 40, overall toll hits 769

The death toll in this year’s Hajj stampede has risen to 769 with Nigeria losing over 42 pilgrims.

Those injured were about 934 pilgrims as at the time of filing this report.

For three days, it has been difficult for National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and 37 state pilgrims’ welfare boards to ascertain how many Nigerians died and the number of those injured.

A source in Mecca said about 40 Sokoto pilgrims were being looked for in the last few days.

Official announcement by Saudi Arabia, as the Hajj was brought to a close on Friday, said 52 more pilgrims had died as a result of the stampede.

Saudi health minister Khalid al-Falih said: “The latest statistics up to this hour reveal 769 dead. That is an increase of 52 on the previous figures.

“Those are the ones who died in various hospitals since the event,” he said, adding that 934 people were wounded.”

But collating the number of victims on the part of Nigeria had been difficult.

According to a reliable official source, who spoke in confidence, more than 40 Nigerians might have died in the stampede.

The source said: “We have been compiling figures but we have not been able to arrive at a final figure. We are giving every missing person the benefit of doubt of still being alive.

“So far, we have lost close to 40 but I cannot tell you the number of those injured.

“From a local government in Sokoto State, we are still looking for 40 people, 72 hours after the stampede.

“We have directed State Pilgrims Welfare Boards and tour operators to conduct a census of all their pilgrims and search for the missing ones in order to determine those we have lost.”

Some of those confirmed dead were a traditional ruler in Taraba State, the Panti Zing, Alhaji Abbas Ibrahim ( who was the State Amirul Hajj) and two wives;  the presiding judge of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abubakar Abdulkadir Jega (who was a brother to the immediate past INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega); Justice Musa Hassan Alkali of the Ilorin Division of the Court of Appeal, the Deputy Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Professor Tijani Abubakar El-Miskin;  renowned Editor, Hajiya Bilikisu Yusuf; a pharmacist, Dr. Hafsat Shittu; the wife and daughter of Prof. Yaqwal of the Usman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto; three indigenes of Offa from Kwara State who performed the Hajj through some state pilgrims welfare boards.

It was learnt that the Kebbi State Amirul Hajj and Emir of Argungu, Alh. Samaila Mera, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and his deputy, and members of Governor Atiku Bagudu’s family were among the survivors of the stampede.

Other survivors were a former National Chairman of PDP, Alh. Adamu Mu’azu, the PDP Youth Leader, Abdullahi Maibarisa, the Deputy Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mr. Muhammed Babandede, and an Assistant Editor with The Sun, Alh. Akeeb Alarape.

Meanwhile, Governor Umaru Tanko Al – Makura of Nasarawa State has sympathized with the  families of those that lost their lives in the Hajj stampede.

In a statement through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Ahmed Tukur, the governor said:  “As believers, Al-Makura urges the Muslim Ummah worldwide to take heart and seek solace in God Almighty, the knower of all.”

Al – Makura, who said he was deeply touched by the tragic incidence, prayed to God for the avoidance of such tragic occurrence in future.

The governor sent special condolences to the families of Nigerian pilgrims who lost their lives in the stampede especially Professor Tijjani El-Miskin and Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf.

He urged all Nigerians to “join in praying for the quick and full recovery of those who were injured in the unfortunate incidentAl – Makura    also prays that Almighty Allah will accept the souls of the departed Nigerians who died a glorious death in the service of God and to grant the families of the victims the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”