Fear and anxiety have gripped residents of Kano, following the death of no fewer than 14 prominent citizens of the state within the last 48 hours.
This came as the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone5, Benin, explained how Francis Bissong, a Deputy Commissioner Police in charge of the Zonal Criminal Investigation Department in Benin, Edo State, died from COVID-19 complications at his official apartment in Benin.
Those reported to have died of ailments suspected to be COVID-19 include Professor Ibrahim Ayagi, the CEO of Hassan Gwarzo School and former Vanguard Newspaper columnist; Alhaji Dahiru Rabiu, former Kano Grand Khadi; Dr. Musa Umar Gwarzo; Mallam Musa Tijjani, former Editor of Triumph Newspaper; and Alhaji Adamu Isyaku Dal, former SUBEB Executive Secretary.
Others are Alhaji Salisu Lado; Hajia Shamsiyya Mustapha; Hajia Nene Umma; Alhaji Garba Sarki Fagge; Dr. Nasiru Maikano Bichi, Secretary, Student Affairs, North West University, NWU; Prof. Aliyu Umar Dikko of Physiology Department, Bayero University Kano; and mother of famous Kannywood artist, Ado Gwanja. They all died on Saturday.
Similarly, yesterday, former Commissioner of Education in the state, Alhaji Aminu Yahaya; and former Head of Department, Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano, Professor Balarabe Maikaba, were all also confirmed dead.
Although causes of the deaths of these prominent citizens of the state could not be ascertained at press time yesterday, Vanguard learned they all died of underlying ailments similar to those of COVID-19.
For instance, Kannywood star, Musa Gwanja, said his mother died of hypertension and diabetes at 80 and was buried on Saturday at the Darmanawa cemetery in Tarauni Local Government Area.
Similarly, a nephew to the former Grand Khadi, Adamu Balarabe, said his uncle died on Saturday after coming down with catarrh for only two days, after which he was buried at Dandolo cemetery in Kano metropolis.
‘Deaths under investigation’
Reacting to the spate of death in the state, a medical doctor working with Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Dr. Mukhtari Gadanya, said: “I would prefer not to speak because the matter is officially under investigation, therefore, whatever one will say is going to be speculation.
“It is important to note that it has not been ascertained that the deaths occurring in 2020 are more than those that occurred in 2019. Nothing has been confirmed as the cause of the deaths. So whatever one is going to say will only be his perception and not the reality on ground.”
A nursing staff who works with the Infectious Diseases Department of the hospital, Bashir Yusif, said most of those dying of recent had been exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, difficult breathing and cold, although they have not been tested to confirm this.
When contacted on the cause of the sudden deaths in the state, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, and his counterpart in Information, Muhammad Garba, failed to reply to text messages sent to the mobile phones.
‘We now bury up to 24 daily, up from 3 or 4’
Meanwhile, an undertaker at Abattoir Cemetery in Kano, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Vanguard yesterday that the graveyard was filled to capacity, saying they were left with no option than to look for space in between tombs to bury new corpses.
He said: “Mysterious deaths do occur from time to time during the peak of the hot season but this year’s is, indeed, overwhelming.
“Some of the relations mention that their dead ones died of underlying ailments such as hypertension, diabetes or typhoid. But we cannot say exactly what is killing people but we bury up to 24 bodies a day here, against the three or four we used to bury before this time.
“Residents of about four different quarters, including Fagge and Wambai, use this cemetery. Indeed, the rise in death is overwhelming. Another thing that is worth noting is that most of those dying are elderly and a lot of them are said to be having one underlying disease or the other.
“The graveyard is already filled to capacity, such that space is sought in between tombs to bury new corpses, as such the new tombs are scattered all over the place and not uniformly arranged.”
Kano State had lost about 640 in similar circumstances last week, according to reports.