Elder statesman and Second Republic politician, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim, on Friday said he was deeply touched by the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, saying he held the monarch in high esteem because of her exceptional attributes.
Ibrahim, who is in his 80s, spoke to Daily Trust Saturday in Abuja. He said he had a personal contact with the Queen and the memory had continued to linger.
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He said, “I received the death of the Queen with shock because I watched on television when she hosted the new British prime minister. It was not long thereafter that the queen was announced dead.”
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the symbolic ceremony for the new Prime Minister Liz Truss took place at the Queen’s remote Balmoral retreat in the Scottish Highlands, as the queen, 96, was deemed unfit to return to London due to ill health.
The elder statesman said, “It (death of the queen) was shocking, particularly to me. I saw her with the new prime minister. I thought she would be around for some time, not knowing that she would be dead.
“You will like to know how I know many things about her. When Alhaji Shehu Shagari paid the first state visit to the United Kingdom, I had the opportunity to be among the few people in the entourage. But only about four officials were allowed to be with Shagari in the Buckingham Palace.
“There was Dr Umaru Dikko, who was the minister of transport. There was Dr Chuba Okadigbo, the political adviser to the president; and there was Idrisu Ibrahim Kuta, who was the deputy speaker.
“Shagari was well received, but some of us did not stay in the palace. I have my own house in London, and the late Shettima Ali Monguno was married to a Briton. Monguno and Shagari were close friends, both of them were teachers and both served under General Gowon when he was the head of state.
“Therefore, the queen decided to organise a brunch (meal between breakfast and lunch) for us because she knew Shagari came with a large delegation but were unable to stay in Buckingham Palace. She decided to honour us. She was very jovial. Shagari introduced all of us but added that Monguno was her in-law because he was married to a British woman.
“The queen then asked whether I was also her in-law but I smiled and said I was married to a Liberian. She smiled and described Nigerians as versatile people. She cracked jokes with us and everybody was happy.
“And in-between, Chuba Okadigbo and Idrisu Kuta decided to show us their rooms. Okadigbo said, ‘I am the first Igbo man to stay in Buckingham Palace.’ I saluted him. I was at the time working at the High Commission office, locally recruited. I was an assistant information officer after I graduated in Hanover, Germany, where the queen’s family came from. I met both the queen and her husband. They were jovial and good people; they liked to talk.”
‘Queen stopped Umaru Dikko’s extradition’
The elder statesman also said that years later, the queen played a key role in stopping the extradition of Umaru Dikko.
“When I was in New York with the present president of Ghana, I was called and the lady was crying. I asked her what happened and she told me that she heard that Umaru Dikko had been kidnapped. I asked if she had spoken to the police and she said no. I told her not to call the police.
“I said I would keep her posted about what I was doing. I then called my business associate with the British Aerospace, who happened to be Major Hamset. He was a colleague of Queen Elizabeth’s security man. Hamset had decided to retire. He didn’t want to continue in the army; he said he wanted to make money. So, when I called him to tell him what happened, he said I should put my telephone down.
“He quickly called his colleague (the queen’s security man) and told him that they had kidnapped Umaru Dikko. He then went to the queen, saluted and said, ‘We have a bad news.’ He told the queen that they had kidnapped Dikko. She screamed and said Dikko was her guest. This goes to show you how sharp the queen’s memory was,” he said.
He said the queen then directed her security man to call Margaret Thatcher (the then British prime minister) and tell her what was happening.
“Can you believe it? Wallahi, within 20 minutes the British airspace, sea and ground was sealed. The whole Great Britain was sealed. Then, about 2pm or 2:30pm, Major Hamset called me and said, ‘I have a good news for you. Umaru Dikko has been found with a Jewish doctor in a crate.’”
He said the Jewish doctor was supposed to be injecting him until they put them in the plane for onward delivery to Nigeria..
The elder statesman said the queen loved Nigeria and would be greatly missed.
Orji Kalu pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, describes her as exceptional leader
The Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu, has described the death of Queen Elizabeth 11 as a colossal loss to the United Kingdom and the global community.
Kalu, in a condolence message issued on Friday in Abuja, described the deceased as an exceptional leader.
He said that during the 70-year reign of the late monarch, United Kingdom witnessed unprecedented and remarkable development.
The former governor of Abia State called on leaders across the globe to emulate the outstanding leadership qualities of the late queen. (NAN)
Royal mourning to last 7 days after funeral
Britain’s royal family will observe a period of mourning that ends on the seventh day after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, with flags at royal residences to remain at half-mast.
“Following the death of Her Majesty, it is His Majesty the King’s wish that a period of royal mourning be observed from now until seven days after the Queen’s funeral,” a statement noted.
Gun salutes will be fired in London at 1pm (1200 GMT) in Hyde Park, with one round fired for each year of the queen’s 96 years, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.
The palace did not say when the funeral would be held, but it is likely to take place within 11 days after the queen’s death on Thursday.
Buckingham Palace said flags at royal residences would remain at half mast until the morning after the mourning period, and royal residences would remain closed, although floral tributes could be left outside. (Reuters/NAN/www.nannewsng)
Queen Elizabeth’s death, a great loss to entire world – Abdulsalami
A former military head of state in Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), on Friday described the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as “a great loss to the entire world.”
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Minna on Friday, the former Nigerian leader expressed deep sorrow over the demise of Queen Elizabeth.
“The death of the queen, who led Britain through turbulent times in the world, is a great loss, not only to the British people, but also the international community,” he said.
Abubakar lauded the queen’s important role in world peace and stability.
“My family’s thoughts and prayers are with the new King Charles III, the entire royal family and all commonwealth nations at this time of mourning and sadness.
“The beloved queen represented the United and Commonwealth with balance and wisdom. She guaranteed stability in moments of crisis and kept alive, the values of tradition in a society in constant and profound evolution.
“Her spirit of service, dedication, and the deep dignity with which she held office for such a long time has been a constant source of admiration for generations to come. May the Queen rest in eternal peace,’’ Abdulsalami said. (NAN)
World Bank president condoles royal family, commonwealth
The World Bank Group President, Mr David Malpass, has issued a statement to sympathise with the royal family and the commonwealth on the passing on of Queen Elizabeth II.
The statement was obtained from the World Bank website on Friday in Abuja by the News Agency of Nigeria.
“On behalf of the World Bank Group we express our deepest condolences to the royal ramily and all the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
“The queen was admired by people everywhere. She witnessed enormous changes within the United Kingdom and around the globe over the last 70 years.
“Her Majesty travelled the world more widely than any other monarch in British history. She also supported over 600 charities, leading by example on issues ranging from wildlife preservation to creating opportunities for young people.
“We will remember Queen Elizabeth II as a beacon of stability and continuity, whose extraordinary life and reign were truly historic.” (NAN)
Her death a great turning point – ACDF founder
Mr Dele Ajayi-Smith, the president and founder, African Citizens Development Foundation (ACDF), on Friday said the death of Queen Elizabeth II marked a great turning point, not only in Britain but in global affairs.
Ajayi-Smith, who condoled with members of the family and Buckingham Palace, hailed the late queen as a great role model to the world.
The ACDF founder, who is also a Roving Ambassador, State of African Diaspora (SOAD), said, “She spent all her life in the service of her country and the Commonwealth of Nations, from being a military officer to monarchic role.
“May her soul be awakened on this new path. We shall greatly miss the quintessential queen.”