News filtered in on Friday that a great man of Azare had died. The name Aliya Ali Kwara was mentioned and soon, the whole of the ancient town in Bauchi State was thrown into mourning.
As the corpse journeyed from Abuja, where he died after a brief illness, sympathizers made their way to his home in anticipation of the funeral prayers.
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By early morning on Saturday, they were in their thousands and included the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, his deputy, Senator Baba Tela, the Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Faruk and other traditional rulers.
Hundreds trooped in from Azare, surrounding towns and cities across Bauchi and neighbouring states. They waited to say goodbye to the man the world simply knew as Ali Kwara. Hunter. Crime Fighter. Philanthropist.
When his remains arrived, the funeral prayer was led by the Chief Imam of Jama’atul Izalatul Bidi’a Waikamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS) Jumaat Mosque in Azare, Sheikh Bala Bako.
The number of people who attended the prayer caused a standstill in Azare and crippled socio-economic activities in the ancient city. The sheer number also made it difficult for cars to move, thereby forcing many to accompany the remains on foot to the burial ground.
Thorn in the flesh of criminals
For decades, Ali Kwara has played a significant role in subduing high profile criminals, bandits, armed robbers and terrorists in different forests, towns and cities, especially across northern states.
The legendary vigilante leader and crime fighter died in an Abuja hospital, Friday, after a brief illness, leaving behind a wife and four children.
His younger brother, Ahmad Muhammad, described Kwara’s death as a great loss, saying his brother was a devoted man of God, a generous giver and one who had the family at heart.
“We have lost a sibling we didn’t want to be separated from,” he said. “We lost a brother who is really helping out lives in all ramifications. There is nothing we asked or solicited from him that he didn’t give or responded to immediately. He built a single mansion that accommodates the entire family, including himself so that no one is separated from the family.”
Muhammad said since the death of their father 20 years ago, Kwara, as the eldest born, had taken over the financial responsibility for the family.
“Late Ali Kwara treated everyone with an uncommon humility and respected all. We have nothing to pay him back with except to pray Allah to forgive his shortcomings and grant him Aljannatul Firdaus,” he said.
Muhammad pointed to the mammoth crowd, weeping and crying over Ali Kwara’s death as a testimony to the kind of person he was and what he meant to people.
“The unprecedented crowd could not allow a single vehicle to carry his corpse to the burial ground, which at the end, he was carried on the shoulders of people who trekked a long distance to the Azare burial ground,” Muhammad said.
Another relative, Ustaz Adam Musa, told Daily Trust that the death of Ali Kwara is like a disaster to the downtrodden people, especially in Azare and other towns in Bauchi and beyond because apart from the fight against hardened criminals and bandits, the deceased was a philanthropist who supported thousands of people without knowing them.
“Even last year, he distributed over 500 bags of grains and rice from his farm to the needy without taking a single bag to his house. Whoever approached Ali Kwara with his problems whether financial or otherwise, he would offer his support immediately without verifying the complaint,” he said.
Kwara’s death, he explained, has created a vacuum that can be hardly filled, especially his fight against hardened criminals and bandits particularly with the current state of insecurity.
“His name alone is a nightmare to any criminal across the country and the nation will miss his intelligence, skills and resources of tackling security challenges especially restoring safety to villages and towns that were invaded by bandits and kidnappers,” he said.
One of the people mourning Ali Kwara is the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed. He described the deceased as someone who made landmark achievements in the fight against criminal activities not only in Nigeria but across the globe.
The governor, who delivered his condolence message when he paid a visit to the Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Faruk at his palace shortly after participating in the funeral prayer of the deceased, said the late famous hunter was well known for assisting security agencies in apprehending kidnappers, cars snatchers and armed robbers.
“We came to the Katagum Emirate Council to convey the condolences of the Government and people of Bauchi State over the loss of one of our illustrious sons of the state, Alhaji Ali Kwara. We believed this man deserved all the respect and honour and he has made us proud as a state,” he said.
The governor recalled how the famous hunter helped him secure the Federal Capital Territory when he was the FCT minister.
He also recounted the deceased’s contribution towards maintaining peace and security in the state especially assisting security agencies in apprehending high-profile criminals, kidnappers and armed robbers.
Responding, the Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Faruk thanked Governor Mohammed for participating fully in the funeral prayer of the deceased and extended his council’s condolences to the government and people of the state over the death.
On his part, Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Y Suleiman described late Ali Kwara as a rare gem who used his intelligence, hunting skills and resources to ensure the safety and security of towns and villages across the country.
In a condolence message to the family and people of the state, the Speaker said, “He took all risks and made all sacrifices to hunt armed robbers, kidnappers, bandits, insurgents and all form of criminals to make our country peaceful and secured. This is uncommon, this is extraordinary and will remain indelible in the history of this country.”
Suleiman also extolled the philanthropic gestures of Late Ali Kwara, especially to the downtrodden masses in his hometown of Azare, Bauchi State and some parts of the country.
According to him, the deceased made his door open to all for peacebuilding, advocacy, philanthropy and community services.
“Late Ali Kwara was one of the finest statesmen Bauchi state has produced who brought fame and honour to the State and the northern part of the country,” he said.
“He died at a time when the country is bedevilled with many security challenges, which required his intervention and expertise to take Nigeria out of the woods. We wished Ali Kwara lived longer so that we will continue tapping from his expertise and patriotic services to secure our country and make life better but the Almighty Allah knows best. We submit everything to Him,” he said.