It was double calamity for the family of former Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Zakawanu Garuba who died in the early hours of Friday, July 18 at the age of 55. His widow was reportedly kidnapped while escorting the corpse of her late husband to Edo State from Abuja for burial according to Muslim rites. She was, however, released few hours after. It was learnt that she regained her freedom around 8. pm. Late Garuba, who was Speaker between 2007 and 2009, family sources hinted Tell, died of COVID-19 complications. He was said to have taken ill three days after his return to his Abuja base from Benin where he participated in the June 25 indirect primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which produced incumbent governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki as the governorship candidate of the party.
The family was however been thrown into confusion and panic following the abduction of his widow by gun men on their way to Auchi to prepare for his burial earlier scheduled for 4 pm. Hassana Garuba, grieving wife of the deceased and her three children, as well as the late Garuba’s aged mother were traveling in the same vehicle when they were attacked at Kabba junction in Kogi State. Zakawanu’s wife and the driver were taken away leaving the three children and their grand-mother stranded in the vehicle. This is the second time Hassana Garuba, a lawyer like her husband, would be kidnapped. The first was in September 3, 2016 when she was abducted along with some other commuters at Obadan village near Benin on her way to Ehor where she was a magistrate. She was released few days later after ransom was paid by her husband, now late.
Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki had expressed shock at the news of the kidnap of the wife of the late Garuba, and tasked the state Police Command to immediately launch a rescue operation. A statement by the special adviser to the governor on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said “Governor Godwin Obaseki is deeply saddened by this incident, which he described as distressing more so, with the passing of Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba, earlier today. He has ordered the Police Command to ensure that the kidnap victims are rescued. The Commissioner of Police has contacted his Kogi State counterpart and leading the rescue operation.”
Obaseki had in an earlier statement mourning the demise of the former speaker, described it as “a deep personal loss to him.” The governor said “I received the news of the passing of Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba with a heavy heart. He was an outstanding Nigerian and a good man. He worked for the good of the people and contributed his quota to the development of his immediate community and the state.
“As Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services & Supervising Executive Commissioner, Operations at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria, late Garuba performed brilliantly, distinguishing himself as a true Edo son with his commitment to duty, innovativeness and sheer dexterity. As a politician and Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, he performed his tasks diligently, served the people meritoriously and provided sterling leadership to the legislative arm of government”.
Obaseki also stated that the deceased excelled in his private practice as a constitutional lawyer, bringing panache to the noble profession, stressing that “The former speaker was indeed an astute politician and his wise counsel will be greatly missed. We pray that God grants his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss”.
Garuba, a two-term member of the state House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP, was a former management team of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was born in Auchi, Etsako West local government area of the state on August 23, 1965. A lawyer by profession, Garuba was a product of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State. After his stint at SEC, he went into private legal practice until his sudden death.