Daily Trust (Abuja)

2 November 2012

Nigeria: A Tale of Two Neighbours in Auto Crash

Jos — Tragedy struck on Monday evening along Jos- Bauchi road when seventeen members of two neighbouring families in Jos were involved in a fatal accident that claimed the lives of nine of them. The dead included four children and grand children of Sheikh Abubakar Bafulatani, a renowned Tijanniya Islamic scholar in Jos, and his neighbour Idris Abubakar and his four of his children.

Sheikh Bafulatani, surrounded by mourners in his Sarkin Mangu home told Daily Trust that six of his children; Asma'u the eldest among them, Ummul Khairi, Amadu, Nuru, Muthari, Mustapha and two grand children were on their way to visit their elder sister who is married to Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi when the tragedy struck. He confirmed that Nuru, Amadu, Asmau and her young son had died while Muthari and Mustapha, Ummul Khairi and her daughter were presently receiving treatment at the Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital in Bauchi.

Narrating how he came about news of the tragedy, Sheik Bafulatani said: "the accident must have happened around 6:14 pm because I called them around 6:10 and they told me they had just passed Zaranda village. I tried calling them about 5minutes later but I couldn't reach them. Then someone, a resident of Jos who knows my family called to inform us. He saw the vehicles on fire and recognised that the bus was from my house; he therefore called some people here in Jos and asked them to tell us that a bus from the house was on fire along Jos-Bauchi road.

"As soon as we were told, we set out to the scene but on getting to Marraraban Gumau, we were told that a group of armed robbers were operating close by, so we had to wait for about 3 hours until some soldiers came and we followed them. By the time we got there, they had already been evacuated to the emergency unit of the hospital in Bauchi. We went there and behold, here they were, both the dead and the survivors. We stayed through the night until we were given their corpse around 1 pm the next day for burial. The other four are still in the hospital but Alhamdulillah they are getting better now."

The Islamic scholar explained that contrary to reports that the two vehicles had a head-on collision, he said the bus carrying members of his family was packed, and that it was accidentally crashed by his neighbour who was coming from Bauchi with members of his family.

He explained that "a Vectra came from behind and hit the bus and my children got out of the car to settle the matter with the driver. After they had settled, they went back into the bus and were about to move when my neighbour who was coming from Bauchi ran into them and the two vehicles went into flames. My neighbour and four of his children also died in the accident; other members of his family are also receiving treatment at the hospital."

Malama Talatu Haruna Idris, widow of the late Idris Abubakar who owns Sunnah Bookshop, next door to Sheikh Bafulatani's home said her husband and the children had travelled to see his parents at Juwara in Bauchi State, promising to return after a day. She said she was aware that he had left the village around 5pm that fateful day but when she noticed it was getting late, she called his number several times but couldn't connect to him.

The forty year old woman turned widow said by 3am when she couldn't reach her husband or any of the children he travelled with, she feared something terrible might have happened.

According to her after she said her morning prayers, she tired his number again but couldn't get across to him. Alas, she was soon to discover that he had been called to great beyond.

"I woke up his eldest son to tell him and we called Juwara but they told us he left the previous day. With that reconfirmation, we started making enquiries if there was any accident and we were told that there was an accident but that the victims were in the hospital. When we got there I had no strength to see them because they were burnt beyond recognition," she said.

With tears in her eyes, Malama Talatu said all four deceased children were hers while three of her other children and one grandchild were presently receiving treatment at the hospital.

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