A brother to the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Justice Abdulkadir Jega; another Justice of the Ilorin Division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Musa Hassan Alkali; the Emir of Zing and Ameerul-hajj of Taraba State to 2015’s hajj exercise, Abbas Ibrahim and two of his wives have been identified as being among those that died in Thursday’s stampede in Saudi Arabia, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
Abdulkadir Jega was a judge of the Court of Appeal and also a brother to the Editor-In-Chief of Daily Trust Newspaper, Mahmud Jega.
A family source told one of our correspondents that the body of the judge, who was a member of the Kebbi State Government delegation to the 2015 Hajj, was found in a mortuary in Mina, Saudi Arabia.
This is as the death toll from the stampede has risen to 769.
The Emir’s death was confirmed to journalists by the Chairman of the state Pilgrims Board, Hamman Tukur, who added that some pilgrims from the state were still missing.
It was reliably gathered on Saturday that about 100 Nigerians might have died in the stampede that occurred when pilgrims were going to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil in Mina, Saudi Arabia.
An official of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, who confided in Sunday PUNCH, said more Nigerian victims were discovered when the commission’s officials joined their colleagues from other countries’ in Mina morgue to identify their nationalities.
The Nigerian hajj officials are still compiling the list of Nigerians affected.
Other prominent Nigerians, who have been confirmed to have died in the stampede, included the Deputy Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Professor Tijjani Abubakar El-Miskin and a veteran female journalist, Bilkisu Yusuf.
Meanwhile, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has begun a census of the country’s pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
SUNDAY PUNCH reliably learnt that the commission started the census on Saturday following reports that some Nigerians pilgrims were still missing.
The commission had on Thursday sent its medical team to hospitals in Saudi Arabia to ascertain the number of the dead and the injured.
It was gathered that the commission embarked on the head count when it could not account for some pilgrims.
Findings showed that the NHCN was conducting the census state by state and that the figure of the dead and the injured would be released officially on or before Monday.
An official of the commission, who confided in Sunday PUNCH, said, “You will recall that on Thursday, our medical team went round hospitals. We are still collating the figures, but some pilgrims are still missing.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reported on Saturday that five pilgrims from Gombe State had been declared missing.
This is as the Sokoto State Government announced that nine pilgrims from the state were among those who died in the stampede.
In a statement in Sokoto on Saturday, the government said that its officials, led by the Amirul Hajj and leader of its delegation, the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu, who was still in Saudi Arabia, confirmed the tragedy.
The Executive Secretary, Gombe State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Usman Gurama, in an interview with journalists in Mina, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday said the board had not located the pilgrims since Thursday.
Gurama, however, said that seven pilgrims from the state were injured at the scene of the incident and were responding to treatment.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Saturday expressed sorrow over the incident.
Atiku said this in a statement by his Media Office in Abuja. The former Vice President described the incident as one of the saddest accidents to have befallen Muslims in recent times.
The state quoted him as saying “we are bound by our common humanity.” It also quoted Atiku as saying that “we learn lessons from these tragic incidents, and take precautionary measures to ward off future disasters.”
Also, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Saturday in Sokoto, urged Saudi authorities to henceforth provide improved safety measures during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Sultan spoke on the sidelines of the presentation of the report of a technical committee set up by him to look into the state of the education sector in Sokoto State.
“The tragedy affected several countries of the world, Nigeria in general and Sokoto state in particular.
“Some local governments in Sokoto state like Illela, Binji, Gwadabawa and others were affected by the tragedy, although the actual casualty figures are still being ascertained by Saudi Arabian and Nigerian authorities,” he said.