As the ferocious wind came howling, pregnant housewife Hajara, her co-wife and the latter’s six children all took refuge in a room in their house at Kumuiniya village, Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State. The wind struck where they were holed up and took the life of 20-year-old Hajara while others who were also buried in the wreckage of their collapsed house, survived the tragedy.
Over 1,000 houses and property worth millions of naira were destroyed in the Wednesday 27th June disaster. Among communities affected include Gida Tudu, Birjingo, Warankai, Mallamuwa, Shinaka, Taloka, Kumuiniya and Goronyo town, headquarter of the local government.
The worst-hit area was Kumuiniya, where over 500 houses were reportedly destroyed by the devastating storm.
Many structures were destroyed in Goronyo town, with the only science secondary school in the area and the newly-constructed Local Government Council secretariat also affected.
Forty-year-old Iliyasu Maigoshi, husband of the late Hajara, said he was still in shock over the loss of his wife.
Hajara was his second wife, and was expecting her first child.
The bereaved spouse recalled: “Around 8:30pm on that Wednesday, a dark cloud hung over the sky from the east. There was thunder accompanying it, and from all indications it was a sign of rain coming.
“While the storm was gathering, I was performing ablution in my wife’s room [the deceased] and we were chatting but mindful of the impending storm. After the ablution, I hurried out of the house to the village mosque to observe the Isha prayer.”
Maigoshi said they were done with the prayer before the rain started. “It was while we were about to disperse that the storm started at an alarming speed.
“As I was struggling to pull myself together, some boys came and informed me that my house had collapsed after the roof was blown away and my two wives and six children were trapped inside.”
Maigoshi rushed to rescue his family and with the help of some good Samaritans, they pulled them out one after the other.
“The other seven escaped the calamity unhurt but Hajara died,” he revealed.
The seven include the first wife Malama Rakiya, 34, and her children Shakira, 12, Hafsa, 10, Balikisu, 8, Gaddafi, 5, Maryam, 3, and one-year-old Fatima.
According to the husband, the deceased had always entertained fear about her pregnancy.
“She used to speak about it in a negative manner that she might not survive the ordeal,” he recalled.
“She was taking shelter at her co-wife’s room, alongside the six children. Few minutes before the tragedy, we were chatting happily until I left for the mosque.”
The husband described the late Hajara as an obedient and respectful wife.
An elderly resident of the village recollected that Hajara once experienced similar tragedy when she was eight. She was in a room with another child when the building collapsed on them. Hajara had then escaped with a fracture on her hand while the other child died.
At Shinaka, the deceased’s family house, her father Mamman Dan Ginda, 53, said the last time he was with his daughter was during the Ramadan when she came for ante-natal visit at the hospital.
“After the clinic, I gave her transport fare and prayed for her safe return back to her husband’s house,” he disclosed.
The traumatized father said he felt exceptionally bad that evening even though he was used to feeling fatigue from farm work. “I just felt something was not right when I received the news of collapsed structure at Kamuiniya not knowing that it claimed my daughter’s life.”
Hajara was the 9th of her father’s 13 children and the 3rd of her mother’s three offspring. “She was a quiet, reserved, and shy person who was very obedient,” the father said.
The situation of an over 90-year-old granny Jikko evoked empathy. She sat in a make-shift structure at a corner, sadness written all over her face after her room was severely ruined by the storm. “My child, you can see for yourself the kind of condition we are in,” she said.
Also, 65-year-old Muhammad Salihu’s four rooms were wrecked, as well as the Islamiyyah school where he teaches. His four wives and 18 children took shelter at a neighbour’s house, and he said he had spent four days trying to salvage what was left of his property.
Ibrahim Usman, a politician in the area, also noted the destruction of his structure which he insisted was strong. He said five rooms were destroyed by the raging storm. He had commenced repairs.
Another victim, Sani Jamilu, 37, lamented that the roofs of all his three rooms were ripped out. He appealed to government for support to cushion the effect of the disaster.
Similarly, piqued by the level of destruction, the Sokoto State House of Assembly called on the state government to come to the aid of victims.
The member representing Goronyo Constituency, Wahab Goronyo, had in a motion on matters of urgent public importance, noted that disasters occur without notice, stressing that “Securing lives and property is one of the cardinal objectives of any government, hence the need for this matter of urgent public importance.” DT