She was one of the thousands of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the distinguished leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky that the genocidal forces massacred in Zaria between 12th and 14th December, 2015 on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She was killed by Nigerian army at the Gyellesu residence of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. I was reliably informed earlier during the pogrom by someone who met a lady survivor that Nusaiba was last spotted inside the Sheikh’s compound on that fateful day, at the time the soldiers set the house ablaze, and at that time she had already been shot. The narrator said as he made his way to safety from the inferno and rampaging soldiers, he heard her final call for help. Unfortunately, it was too late.
It would not be surprising if Nusaiba was among the martyrs that were finished off and their corpses burned, even after they were earlier shot and wounded by the soldiers.
My heart is heavy and I am unable to come to terms with the ferocity of the Zaria massacre. One could speak volumes about each of the victims. And as for Nusaiba, I often say that even if she was the sole victim, it would have been an irreparable loss to the Movement, that hearts would continue to grieve till the end of time.
Islamic Movement has most certainly united hearts. I first met Nusaiba in our prime of youthful years. It was during one Islamic Vacation Course in Zaria, one of the activities initiated by Mu’allima Zeenat Ibraheem, may God reward her abundantly. She had worked tirelessly to ensure that young souls were given the right start and appropriate guidance to attain their full potentials in life.
However, it was only in the last four to five years that we got close to each other, especially through the use of social media such as 2go, Facebook and WhatsApp platforms.
Her immeasurable contributions along these lines were quite remarkable. I recall one day she called me and said she wanted to discuss an issue with me, and I should go online. As I got online, her message came in. Part of what she wrote was that, “Salam. Saifullah, I hope you are doing great. I have a suggestion. I have opened a new group on WhatsApp platform, and I named it ‘Fiqh page.’ I don’t know if you could spare time to provide us with Fiqh lessons in that group, even if it is just twice a week? The group is exclusively for sisters, you will be the only male teacher.”
I replied her that it was an excellent idea to have groups exclusively meant for teaching different branches of Islamic education and even western education in a structured manner, because the great majority of groups we have on WhatsApp at that moment were dedicated to disseminating the news only. I however told her to find someone better educated in that field, especially a lady like them so that they could relate better. Nusaiba however insisted I should do it. “I know you don’t hoard knowledge. Please try and give us this education. We would certainly benefit from this. I doubt if anybody else will have the time for us as you, especially as you are additionally a prolific writer.” She told me they were already 33 in the group.
I conceded to her requests and asked her when does she want us to start and from where. She said lessons could start immediately and from the beginning. She wasted no time in adding me to the group.
It was then I realized that she had gathered so many who were my teachers and some old enough to be my parents even. I however told myself that it would not matter since we will only be doing things like revision.
We spent the first six months learning Fiqh, everyday between 9pm and 10pm, unfailingly. We had covered topics such as purity, ritual baths, ablution, prayers and we were on the topic of fasting when the class stopped. While the lessons lasted, everyone benefitted. I personally benefitted and learnt a lot. It made me read a lot, because I had to revise all reference books on the topic before our lessons for the day. That made me learn so much that i never knew prior to that. I also learnt that to deal with women, one has to have extraordinary reserve of patience.
However, the lessons unfortunately stopped when it became near impossible for me to continue with the lessons, combining it with my studies in Mass Communication lectures in the University. At the same time, she (the Admin and founder of the group) too went to school in Sokoto. She told me she was going to close the group until some other time. Nay! It was not to be by this dedicated and hardworking sister.
Anytime I recall this immense contribution of Nusaiba, and how it impacted the lives of so many others, I feel I owe her a duty to continue in her footsteps. May God crown our efforts and send the rewards to her gentle soul.
Just about twelve days before her brutal murder by soldiers, she told me that there was an assignment given to her and myself by Hammad Zakzaky. She had said when we met she would let me know. Now both herself and Hammad were murdered in cold blood, and there is no way of knowing what the assignment was. I pledge to carry out this assignment once I get a reliable hint of what it is or I even dream of any of these two and they tell me what it is. That will be a befitting honour and tribute to both.
May your gentle soul continue to rest in peace, Nusaiba, great and distinguished Martyr with a difference.
This special tribute on Martyr Nusaiba Yakubu was written by Saifullahi M. Kabir.