Friday, September 25, 2015 10:09 am
Veteran journalist and civil rights activist Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf has been confirmed among the 717 people crushed to death in the stampede among pilgrims in Mecca yesterday.
Two other Nigerians were also confirmed dead: They were deputy Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Professor Tijjani Abubakar El-Miskin and pharmacist Hafsat Shittu.
And the death toll for Nigerians could be higher.
The deadly stampede occurred at the Jamarat Bridge outside Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
Many pilgrims from Nigeria as well as Niger Republic, Chad and Senegal were feared to be among the casualties in the worst stampede at the annual hajj in 25 years.
Saudi authorities said more than 700 people died in the stampede while hundreds more were injured.
The stampede occurred during the last major rite of the annual pilgrimage, the symbolic stoning of the devil.
There was a crush when a huge number of pilgrims turned out for the symbolic stone throwing and the pilgrims were going in opposite directions, contrary to the procedure.
El-Miskin’s death was confirmed by the Borno State Amirul Hajj, the state’s former deputy governor Alhaji Adamu Dibal who spoke to the state’s radio station.
In addition to his NSCIA duties, El-Miskin was the Executive Chairman of the Borno State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, a position he was appointed in 2013 when Governor Kashim Shettima reconstituted the agency’s board.
He was also a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Maiduguri and a former Director General of the Nigeria Arabic Village at Gamboru, Borno State. One of the country’s most versatile Muslim clerics, teachers and activists, Professor El-Miskin once taught at the Nigeria Defence Academy in Kaduna.
He was very prominent at academic and Islamic lecture circuits and has hundreds of seminar papers to his name.
Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf was the most prominent female journalist from Northern Nigeria for several decades. She was editor of Sunday Triumph in the early 1980s and became editor of the New Nigerian in 1987. She then became editor of Citizen Magazine in 1990.
Apart from journalism, Hajiya Bilkisu was also very well known for civil society activism and in particular for her role in the nurturing of Muslim Women’s NGOs.
She was Deputy National Amirah of the Federated Organisation of Muslim Women’s Associations of Nigeria [FOMWAN]. She wrote hundreds of seminar papers and attended civil society conferences all over the world. Most recently, she was deeply involved in helping persons internally displaced by the crises in the North East region.
She presented a paper on the issue at the Daily Trust awareness and fund-raising event for internally displaced persons in late August.
Hajiya Bilkisu also maintained the weekly column Civil Society Watch in Daily Trust. She has maintained the column for more than a decade and sent her most recent article, which appeared in yesterday’s edition, from Mecca on Wednesday evening.
*Source: Daily Trust