© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Over 300 people ‘mysteriously’ died in Azare within 14 days
It's a lie, figure exaggerated says Bauchi deputy gov.
By Haruna Mohammed Salisu
About 310 people have reportedly died of undisclosed ailments in Azare, the headquarters of Katagum local government area of Bauchi State.
In a letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by Hon. Ibrahim Baba, a former lawmaker representing Katagum who was deposed of his position by an Appeal Court in Jos, the former lawmaker alleged that there was “massive outbreak of coronavirus in Azare town and environs in Bauchi State, which has already resulted in over 100 fatalities in the last one week.”
The former lawmaker attributed the mysterious death to COVID-19, saying the incident has “thrown the entire area into great mourning, panic and confusion.
Ibrahim in the letter indicated that the “centrality and proximity of Azare to Bauchi, Kano and some major cities of Jigawa State make the town’s large population susceptible to the virus due to the already existing large cases of the disease in those areas.”
An independent verification conducted by The ICIR to ascertain the authenticity of the claims made in the letter to President Buhari by the former lawmaker shows that not fewer than 310 people have died ‘mysteriously’ within a span of 14 days.
Muhammad Muktar MK, a resident of Azare told The ICIR that a total of 310 people whom he described as “aged” have died in Azare in the last 14 days.
Another resident, Salisu Azare said “of course what you heard is true, the deaths may be more than that even and most of them are within the range of 60 years and above.
“But no one would tell you what killed them for a fact, I think only scientific examination could prove the kind of ailment that killed them, but we are really scared”, he said.
The ICIR recalls that a pioneer Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Muhammad Dahiru Saleh, who annulled the June 12 election, was among prominent people of Azare extraction that died during the period.
He died on Thursday at the aged of 83 and was since buried according Islamic rites.
When The ICIR placed a question to the Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Senator Bala Tela who is also the chairman of the state’s taskforce on COVID-19 and Lassa Fever regarding the actual figures of fatalities and the ailment that killed them, Baba Tela debunked the reported figures, saying the numbers have been exaggerated.
“I don’t know the exact number of casualties, but what I have gathered is that about six persons die every day for a period of 7 days”, Baba Tela said.
The Deputy Governor also said about 7 medical health personnel consisting of 5 doctors and 2 nurses have tested positive for the virus in Azare.
Baba Tela said the ailment that killed the people in Azare town were yet to be established by health workers in the state; “but we are liaising with the WHO and UNICEF to retrain our health care workers in Azare to boost their capacity to respond to the situation on ground”, he added.
The Deputy Governor also debunked the figures unveiled by Hon. Ibrahim Baba who wrote a letter to the Presidency alleging that about 100 persons have died of COVID-19.
“I’m sure he has not counted the deaths and he has not gone to the grave yard or had a conversation with people who buried the deaths, so how could someone come up with figures just like that”, he insisted.