Azare Mysterious Deaths: That Daily Trust Disturbing Headline
By Gambo Audu Azare
If the world is in grief mourning loved ones as the coronavirus pandemic rages, Africa is not exempted just as Nigeria cannot exist in isolation of the continent so also is Bauchi State and Azare as an integral part of the state. It cannot be affirmed that the mysterious deaths in Azare, a cosmopolitan town in Bauchi State is as a result of the raging world’s epidemic because the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), the agency saddled with the authority of affirming who and where the disease brakes out in the country has not said so, it is also uncharitable to ascribe authenticity of deaths anywhere in the country to it. Azare like other towns and cities before it has in the recent time experienced mysterious deaths leaving many families in grief and disheartening, but the report of Daily Trust, a national newspaper that the deaths is as a result of abortion is most grievous and agonising.
The report of the newspaper of 30th May, 2020 on the Azare mysterious deaths under the headline “Illegal Abortions Responsible for Mysterious Deaths in Azare,” is sadder and atrocious coming from a respected national media outfit that many relied on for authentic information. If the report is carried on all comers social media platform, it will be understandable as those concern will know that it is the trend in vogue, but to quote Daily Trust as the source, makes it a mischief that either the reporter or the editors have something against Azare that is yet to be unfolded. By the report, one wonders if journalists have jettisoned the ethics of checking and crosschecking information and its source before making it public.
The embarrassment that the news report has caused Azare and her people is that if abortion is the cause of the deaths, what about women that have reached menopause, male casualties as well as children that died in the mass death, were they also carrying out abortions?
According to the report, the source was attributed to the Executive Secretary of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed (who is Governor Bala Mohammed’s younger brother) at an interactive session organized by the Bauchi State Public Health Media Network in Bauchi. He alleged that a “preliminary investigation shows that illegal abortions by unqualified medical practitioners is the cause of mysterious deaths in Azare,” this is where it is worrisome that a reporter said to be representing a media outfit of Daily Trust standing, could not go beyond merely hearing from a source or an individual to investigate the allegation before going to the press with falsehood, this is where the report is an embarrassment to Bauchi State, Azare and her citizens.
I, on behalf of Azare the people averred that the Daily Trust story is insulting and demeaning to the pious women that passed away in the said sad mysterious deaths and that the report has offended the sensibilities of our people and culture. The report did not only insult our women and children that were victim, but also undermined our hallmark of morality and decency. Azare people disagree and reject vehemently the purported result of this investigation and are on the standpoint that the purported result is reversed and the correct thing done to restore Azare good name and dignity.
It is most disappointing that a state official of Dr Railwanu’s status could descend to vulgarity of saying “married women aborted unwanted pregnancies,” it is an unexpected comment from a state official worth his calling that could be called to represent Bauchi State in a bigger fora.
We, the Azare people wonder if Dr Railwanu is aware that a report is said to be from a preliminary investigation and that a sensitive preliminary investigations are not allowed to be publicized according to world ethics of scientific research, because a conclusive result of applied social research often vary with the preliminary investigations because it deals with human beings, which is a subject that researchers have no control upon.
This keeps us in the dark of what Dr. Rilwanu is aiming to achieve by his allegation on Azare people or that he is acting on a script designed to tarnish Azare image? This is because the misleading information has been published by one of the renowned national dailies earlier.
Dr Rilwanu said in the report that the deaths in Azare resulted from unwanted and unplanned pregnancies by both married and unmarried women of childbearing ages. A doctor of any description should know that scientific research is acceptable only when figures and facts are presented; but Dr. Rilwanu’s statements are without scientific evidences to back it up. The breakdown of deaths from end of March to the 29th of May 2020 culled from Azare cemetery death register are as follows: Total deaths – 424 – 100%, males – 315 – 74.3%, women – 109 – 25.7% and number of women that died at childbirth – 21 – 4.9%. Out of these 109 women, 69 ranged between the ages of 52 to 100 years whom were already in their menopausal period. Only forty i.e. 9.4 % were between the ages of 15 to 51 where pregnancy is possible. Moreover, 21 women who died with pregnancy issues died at child birth point, not abortion as Rilwanu claimed.
The federal government team sent to Kano to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic led by Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, were also at Azare, Katsina, Maiduguri, Hadeja and other states in northern Nigeria to unravel the mystery behind the mass deaths. His findings were that the cause of deaths was as a result of excess heat, high grade fever, hard and dry cough among others. The federal government team or any other agency of government never attributed the deaths in Azare to abortion; this is why Dr. Rilwanu’s claim to preliminary findings is a manufactured wishful thinking.
Azare has the best death register in all the states and towns visited by Dr. Gwarzo and his team in northern Nigeria. The register contains name of the deceased, age, gender, residence, cause of death, date of death, next of kin and phone numbers. Gwarzo told the BBC that he was impressed by the death register at Azare and advised others to emulate this in order to keep up to date record of deaths in their communities.
Records of illegal abortions are not easy to come by anywhere in the world. It will be unethical for any hospital to indulge in illegal abortion and keep the record in its file. It is a wonders where Dr. Rilwanu got his record from.
Azare is a Muslim community and in Islamic jurisprudence, marriage and sex are acts of worship, and are clearly explained in sharia texts, for Dr Rilwanu to advise Azare to teach sex education calls for a mental examination.
Azare people enjoined Governor Bala Mohammed to call government officials to order as unguided statements from them will be termed as government backups and it is on record that unfavourable comments of governments are reserved for its disadvantages in the future.
Gambo Audu Azare (Al-Gambos) writes from Kano.