By Emeka Mamah & Abdulsalam Muhammad
KATSINAâ€” WORLD leaders, notable Nigerians and the masses, yesterday, bid late President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, a final farewell as he was interred in his family compound in Katsina, capital of Katsina State.
While world leaders like President Barak Obama of the United States, United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and President of the European Commission, Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, among others, paid glowing tributes to the memory of the departed president, several notable Nigerians personally attended the funeral.
The roll call of notable Nigerians and foreigners who witnessed Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s burial include two former Heads of State, Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saâ€™ad Abubakar III, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Naâ€™Abbah, and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Minister of State for Defence, Alhaji Murtala Yarâ€™Adua.
Others included the National Chairman of Action Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, National Chairman of the ruling Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Yayale Ahmed, his predecessor in office, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and the former Governors of Kaduna and Niger States, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure respectively.
Serving governors at the burial
Serving governors at the occasion included those of Kaduna, Rivers, Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Cross River, Kogi, Kwara, Edo, Ogun, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom and Osun states as well as Emirs from Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Bauchi and some other northern states.
Most of the visitors were received by Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s relations including Alhajis Wada and Manir Yarâ€™Adua.
Social and economic activities came to a stand still, yesterday, in Katsina as people from all walks of life paid their last respects to the late President.
As early as 10.00 a.m., armed soldiers and policemen were positioned at strategic locations to ensure that trouble makers did not use the opportunity of the burial to disturb the peace.
The large crowd of eminent personalities waited from about 11.30 a.m under the scorching sun till about 3.05 p.m when the ambulance with the corpse of the late President arrived at the family compound at Yarâ€™Adua Quarters.
The Toyota bus ambulance with number plate K 721 A30 which belonged to the General Hospital, Mani, was led into the family house by another bus carrying most of the governors in the country.
Yarâ€™Adua buried at Danmarna cemetery
The late Umar Yarâ€™Adua was laid to rest at 4.45 p.m., at the Danmarna Cemetery after the funeral prayers led by the Chief Imam of Katsina, Alhaji Mohammed Lawal, at the Katsina Township stadium, a few metres away from the Yarâ€™Adua quarters in the metropolis.
It took the family about two hours to produce the corpse at the stadium for the funeral prayers because, as a Muslim, they wanted to â€œclean him for the final journey.â€
An unruly crowd caused commotion at the stadium when they protested security agencies refusal to grant them access. The security agents formed a ring around Governors Sullivan Chime, Enugu; Adams Oshiohmole, Edo; Chibuike Amaechi, Rivers; Chief Theophilus Orji, Abia; Senator Liyel Imoke, Cross River; and Chief Akpabio, Akwa Ibom, to enable them depart unhurt.
There was water tight security around the Yarâ€™Adua quarters several hours before the arrival of the corpse from Abuja via the Katsina Airport, as major roads and streets in the area were cordoned off by a combined team of military men, police, Road Safety officials, Civil Defence Corps and members of the National Youth Service Corps.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike led top military officers to the funeral.
Vehicular movement was restricted as vehicles were diverted from about two and a half kilometres to the Yarâ€™Adua quarters, while only dignitaries visiting the family house on condolence were allowed to drive into the area.
Former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida arrived the family house at about 12.10 in a black Mercedes Benz S550 with number plate DU 314 ABJ and was received by members of the Yarâ€™Adua family. Babangida who emerged a few minutes later from the building, however, declined comments when approached by reporters, insisting that he had earlier spoken to reporters at the Airport.
Governor of Niger State, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, who arrived the family house at 12.29 p.m., left for the airport in a bus with number plate KTHA 66 belonging the Katsina State House of Assembly while Kaduna State Governor, Mohammed Namadi Sambo arrived the family house at about 12.55 pm with his predecessor in office, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and were received by Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s younger brothers.
Minister of State for Defence, Murtala Yarâ€™Adua who attended to some visitors left at 1.05 p.m in a convoy of cars belong to the Katsina State government, while former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, his Deputy, Ibrahim Mantu, former Imo State Governor, Achike Udenwa and FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, arrived in a bus with number plate KT 27 A 44 belonging to the Umaru Yarâ€™Adua University, Katsina.
Speaking with newsmen at the Katsina airport earlier, the former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu described the death of Yarâ€™Adua as a rude shock to the country, pointing out that Yarâ€™Adua will be remembered for his policy of trying to uphold the rule of law during his tenure.