How Kano lost Obasanjo's economic adviser, two Professors, editor to mysterious ailment in 24 hours

As authorities continue to beam searchlight into unravelling the cause of mysterious deaths in Kano State, several prominent people in the state dropped dead at the weekend due to the unknown ailment.

Daily Trust reports that over 150 died and were buried in three cemeteries in the state between Friday April 17 and Saturday April 18.

The rising death toll has heightened tension in the state as residents fear it could be as a result of COVID-19. Kano presently has 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and testing was halted last Wednesday over lack of testing kits at the newly established Coronavirus testing centre at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

The Kano State Government and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had dismissed suggestions linking the deaths to COVID-19.

Kano government which had initially discarded the reports as fake news, however, said on Sunday night that malaria and hypertension have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in the state in the past two weeks.

Among the prominent personalities who died of the unknown ailment at the weekend was Prof. Ibrahim Ayagi, an economic adviser to former president Olusegun Obasanjo and the owner of one of the most popular private schools in the state, Hassan Gwarzo School.

Ayagi was appointed as Chairman of the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC) in 1999 during the first term of Obasanjo.

Also on the list are – a professor of Mass Communication at Bayero University, Kano, Balarabe Maikaba; Prof. Aliyu Umar Dikko of Physiology Department and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano. Former Grand Khadi of Kano, Alhaji Dahiru Rabiu; and former Editor of Triumph Newspaper, Musa Tijjani.

Others include – former Executive Secretary of the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Adamu Isyaku Dal; Secretary, Student Affairs, Northwest University, Kano, Dr. Nasiru Maikano Bichi; among others.

The rising deaths have raised concerns among Kano residents and Nigerians who are demanding full investigation into the cause.

A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has called on the Federal Government to release a copy of the report carried out by the Kano state government on the mysterious deaths in the state.

In a letter to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, he said since it appeared that the Kano State Government was "completely overwhelmed" the Federal Government should "take over the management of the crisis without any further delay."

He made the request in his capacity as the Interim Chairman of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 Action Programme and Beyond and threatened that should the minister fail to accede to his group's request, he would institute a court action against the minister "to compel official disclosure of the findings of the joint team constituted to investigate the cause of the strange deaths and mass burials in Kano State."

He added, "In addition, we are compelled to request for a certified true copy of the report of the joint investigation conducted by the federal and Kano State ministries of health into the strange deaths and mass burials taking place in Kano State.

"As this request is made pursuant to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, you are required to furnish us with the information within seven days of the receipt of this letter."

Bauchi State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde, in his tribute to Prof Aliyu Dikko, also called on the federal government to take over the affairs of Kano state.

"There is the need for Federal Government to take over the affairs if Kano in regard to the Covid-19 campaign. Something needs to be done and must be done; otherwise, no state in the Northwest and Northeast will be free of the merciless onslaught of the virus," he wrote

"Clearly, the situation has overwhelmed the state government. The city is too big and our social configuration and attitude are making matters worse."

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