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Bauchi zakkat stampede: 13 orphans of late widow cry for help

A 53-year-old Hassana Adamu is one of the casualties of the March 24, 2024 stampede during Ramadan zakkat collection at the AYM Shafa head office…

A 53-year-old Hassana Adamu is one of the casualties of the March 24, 2024 stampede during Ramadan zakkat collection at the AYM Shafa head office in Bauchi, an incident that claimed the lives 16 people, mostly women and children while scores of others were injured. 

On that fateful day, thousands of people had gathered at the AYM Shafa head office, along Jos road to receive N10,000 as zakkat (charity.

The secretary of the Dungulbe main cemetery in Bauchi, Yahaya Mohammed, told Daily Trust Saturday that 16 persons died as a result of the incident.

“They first brought 14 corpses. They later brought one women from the Jahun area, and subsequently, another one from Zango in Bauchi metropolis, bringing the total number of corpses from the stampede to 16. They were buried here at the Dungulbe cemetery,” Mohammed said.

Until her death, Hassana was a widow and breadwinner of her family, catering for 13 children – her five children, another five children left behind by her late co-wife, and three grandchildren of her late daughter, all residing at the top of Dutsen Tanshi mountain.

Her husband, Malam Adamu, died in 2014 after a protracted illness and Hassana took over the responsibility of feeding the family through various small scale trades. She also struggled to pay the children’s school fees and buy learning materials, as well as take care of other necessities of the family. 

When our correspondent visited the family house at the Dutsen Tanshi mountain, it was observed that their poorly constructed house with three rooms was in a very pathetic condition. And there was no parameter fence. As a result of lack of facilities, they climb the mountain to the roadside everyday to fetch water and other food items for use in the house.

According to one of her sons, the burden of responsibility was one of the reasons that compelled the late widow to join hundreds of people in an attempt to collect the N10,000 to augment her sources of income to enable her take care of the family.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that despite their poor living condition, the deceased widow was able to train one of her daughters to acquire a university degree, one of her sons bagged a National Certificate in Education (NCE), while one other got a diploma in Computer Science. Unfortunately, she could not reap the fruit of her labour as none of them has gotten a job.

Lamenting the demise of their mother, one of her daughters, Nafisatu Adamu said, “The devastating shock of her death is immeasurable because she was a reliable pillar of the house. We all depended on her for our livelihood although we assisted her in running her petty trade.

“Our father died eight years ago and she took over the responsibility of feeding and caring for the entire family.

“Her absence has thrown the family into despair. At the moment, there’s no one else to take over the responsibility of the family. Life has not been easy since she left. Waking up to see her was a source of comfort and inspiration. 

“The most disturbing part of it is the way and manner she struggled to take care of us. She was dogged and resilient to ensure that everything went well in the family, but now, she has left this world. Whenever the sun rises, everyone will be looking out for her food and other basic needs. It is worrisome that there is no suitable replacement for her.” 

On what happened at the zakkat collection centre, Nafisatu said, “When she arrived at the venue, the crowd was overwhelming. She fell down during the stampede and people trampled on her. Allah destined that she would lose her life this way, so we leave everything to him.”

Further lamenting the death of their breadwinner and wondering how the family would survive, she said, “I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology (Education), but since my graduation in 2019, I have not been able to get a job despite my efforts. I have been hoping and praying to get a job to support her and put a smile on her face as a payback for the numerous sacrifices she did. Life has not been easy.

“Whenever I remember that I have not been able to get a job to help the family, I feel bad, but there is nothing I can do except praying to Allah and keeping faith. 

“We are appealing to AYM Shafa, the Bauchi State Government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to our aid because right now, many of the children she left behind are in school and there’s no one to pay their school fees and buy the necessary learning materials. I am also calling on good-spirited individuals, groups and the government to help me with a job so that I can support the family.

“Two of my younger siblings also have NCE and a diploma in Computer Science respectively but we have not gotten jobs. 

“Another younger sibling is pursuing his diploma, while the remaining ones are in secondary and primary schools.

“The ambition of our deceased mother was that all of us would acquire good education to have a decent and fulfilling life and achieve our individual dreams.” 

Nafisatu’s younger brother, Abdullahi, 18, who is currently in SS3 at the Special School, Toro, told Daily Trust Saturday that the death of their mother was like the fall of a giant shade amidst the scorching sun. He said, “Life had not been easy when she was alive and taking the burden of 13 of us; now that she has gone, the situation is worrisome because we don’t have a replacement to take the responsibilities of the family. It is a very bad experience.

“I was only 9 when my father died and my mother started playing the role of both parents. My greatest fear is the threat to my education. I don’t want to drop out of school. My younger brothers and sisters would also not want to drop out due to the death of our mother.

“I want to appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to help us by providing a job to our elder sister who was lucky to have graduated with a university degree, as well as two of my brothers with an NCE and a diploma so that they can support our family and education. I believe that with education we would overcome the challenges of life. I am pleading with both AYM Shafa and any privileged Nigerian to support our family.”

Maryam Adamu, a student of SS1 at Saadu Zungur Comprehensive Secondary School, said the death of her mother had already signalled the end of her education. 

“I am still in shock. My major concern now is the fear of dropping out of school due to lack of sponsor because my elder sister and brothers who were lucky to get educated up to tertiary institution are unable to get a job, not to talk of supporting our education. We are appealing to AYM Shafa to come to our aid. 

“Although AYM Shafa came and condoled the family, donated some food items and N250,000 to support us; we appreciate their gesture and thank them for the immediate relief; however, we are still pleading with them to support us with scholarship for our education and other basic things so that we can achieve our individual potentials. 

“My ambition of having good education as a girl-child and achieve my goals is being threatened by the passing away of our mother, but I am hoping and praying to get Allah’s intervention through a good-spirited person. I am appealing to well-meaning people to support our family at this trying time.

“Our mother was very industrious. Some of her trades include frying akara in the morning at the roadside, awara at home, selling of palm oil, groundnut oil, local spaghetti, vegetables, grains and even secondhand clothing materials, which proceeds she used in feeding the family and taking care of other needs. We are yet to start the business, but very soon, we will continue with some of her trades to support the family,” Maryam said.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that both the Bauchi State police command and AYM Shafa promised to investigate the cause of the stampede, but up till now, nothing has been disclosed regarding the cause of the unfortunate incident.

Also, after the incident, AYM Shafa, through the Abdulmuminu Foundation, visited families of victims and donated two bags of rice and N250,000 each, as well as released a statement thus, “We deeply regret to announce the tragic events that unfolded at the premises AYM Shafa Holding, Bauchi, resulting in the loss of  precious lives due to a stampede during zakkat collection. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones affected by this devastating incident. We extend our sincerest condolences and sympathy during this difficult time.

“As a charity foundation committed to the safety and wellbeing of the public, we acknowledge our responsibility in ensuring the proper management and supervision of events to prevent such occurrences. The safety and security of all individuals attending our events are paramount. We deeply apologise for any shortcoming in our oversight that may have contributed to this tragedy.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the stampede to understand what went wrong and to implement immediate corrective measures. Additionally, we are collaborating closely with local authorities and emergency responders to provide support to those affected and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“Words cannot express the sorrow and remorse we feel over the loss of lives in this unfortunate incident. We are committed to learning from this tragedy and taking all necessary actions to prevent such incidents from occurring again. Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the victims. And we stand ready to offer any assistance and support they may need during this challenging time.”

 

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