The first female editor from Northern Nigeria, Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, and a prominent academic, Prof. Tijuana Almiskin, are among the 717 persons confirmed dead in the Saudi Hajj stampede. Hajiya Yusuf was a journalist by profession and a political scientist by training. She received a B.Sc. in political science from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and an M.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin, USA.
She studied journalism at the Moscow Institute for Journalism and International Relations and earned an advanced diploma in journalism and international relations.
Her previous work experience includes working in the Ministry of Information, Kano; editor of Sunday Triumph, Kano; editor of New Nigerian, Kaduna, and editor of Citizen Magazine, Kaduna.
Bilkisu was also a columnist for Daily Trust and LEADERSHIP newspapers. She was a founding member of several NGOs, including Women In Nigeria (WIN), the Federation of Muslim Women Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), and Advocacy Nigeria, where she was the executive director.
She was a consultant and trainer in media, gender and conflict management and peace building. She was on the board of FOMWAN, the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association Against Malaria (NIFAAM), Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON), ABANTU for Development, Vision Trust Foundation,
and many others.
Another prominent Nigerian fatality in the Saudi stampede that took place during the ritual stoning of the devil is Prof. Tijjani Almiskin, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, and one-time head of the University of Maiduguri Arabic Village in Gamboru where students of Arabic go for special training. The head of the Central Hajj Committee, Prince Khaled al Faisal, has reportedly blamed the stampede on “some pilgrims from African nationalities.”
Stampede and mass death of pilgrims during the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia has become a recurring tragedy. In 1990, more than 1,400 pilgrims died en route Mecca having been suffocated or trampled during a stampede in an air-conditioned pedestrian tunnel.
Similarly, about 111 pilgrims died while no fewer than 400 persons were injured earlier this month when a crane collapsed into a section of the Ka’abah (Grand Mosque) in Mecca.
Stampedes and trampling to death of pilgrims is a regular occurrence in Mina, a valley where the symbolic “stoning of the devil” is observed as the last major rite during the pilgrimage.
In 2006, about 350 people were also killed during the stoning of the devil ritual. The Saudi Arabian health minister had said the cause of yesterday’s tragedy was inability of “undisciplined pilgrims” to abide by safety instructions.