Monday, September 28

Former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega's brother dies in Hajj stampede as death toll rises to 20

The number of Nigerian pilgrims involved in a stampede that occurred last Thursday 24th of September in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia has risen to 20 while there is still fear that the death toll might increase further as more states are still searching for their missing pilgrims.

Justice Abubakar Abdulkadir Jega, brother of former INEC Chairman, Profesor Attahiru Jega, another Justice of the court of appeal, Justice Musa Hassan Alkali, front line journalist and columnist, Hajiya Bilikisu Yusuf, among others have been confirmed dead.

The Emir of Zing, in Taraba state who happens to be the Amirul Hajj for the 2015 pilgrimage, Alhaji Abbas Ibrahim, and two of his wives are also among the dead. Also confirmed dead is a Sokoto state staff of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, (name withheld).

A survivor, Mr. Shittu, from Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State shared his experience with Premium Times In Makkah Saudi Arabia: Read below:

There was no way out, so people started scaling fences into tents of Algeria and other Arab countries. My friend and I, who were completely exhausted from the previous long distance trekking from Arafat to Muztalifa where we spent the night and set out that morning to Jamra, had no option than to step on other weaker pilgrims to survive.
You will see relations, mothers and parents abandoning their children and the aged. I was, however, helped by an Arab man to scale the fence into a tent. 
Many male and female pilgrims, dead or alive, were seen naked. We that survived had to scavenge for Ihram (white cloth) of corpses to cover our nakedness.
Those of us who were alive were gasping for breath in an exhausting struggle, some of whom were later offered ice block by volunteers. An Ethiopian pilgrim abandoned his mother who became a ‘ladder’ for those who scaled fences to survive. Many others too were crushed to death in such a manner.

He blames the Saudi Royal family

The pilgrim lamented that poor security contributed to the tragedy, saying there was not enough security around or any rescue team. There have been reports that the closure of two essential gates, reportedly at the instance of the Saudi Royal family who were receiving some visitors, was a major cause of the stampede, a fact
If the gates of those tents from both sides of the road had opened, the death toll would have been very minimal. 
The Arabs closed the gates and continued to hit the hands of any pilgrim with a metal as they attempted to scale their fences.
The survivor, who suffered an injury on his leg, lamented the inadequate medical attention received by some survivors, saying I did not receive any medical attention from either the Saudi, NAHCON (Nigerian officials) or Kaduna authorities despite my complaints. He said he saw corpses of many Nigerians from Lagos and Sokoto, whom he identified from their uniform.
“There was a woman, who was carrying a baby and I am not sure if she will survive because there were so many bodies piled on top of her and the baby.” He said.

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