Abdulwahab Magaji (1983-2024)


It appears like it was just yesterday, but it’s been over 40 years now since you were born. I was with your mother, Hajia Aishatu Magaji (my older sister), at the Specialist Hospital in Bauchi state, Nigeria; laying on a mat and patiently waiting for your arrival.

Your mother was in pain and could hardly move her legs. She woke in the middle of the night –just before you arrived–  for me to help her out with something, but I was fast asleep. She tugged and threw whatever object she could get a hold of in my direction to wake me up.

When you eventually arrived in this world, you were received with great joy. You were beautiful inside and out. You were very cute, and you were showered with so much love by your parents, Alh. Audu Magaji and your mom.


Your grandmother, Mama Maryamu Ibrahim, your great grandmother, Nana Jummai Ali Lubo, your grandfather Daddy Magaji Difa, Your grandmother Kaka Jummai Magaji Difa, many more grannies, grand Aunts, Aunts and more were elated about your birth.

I guess I was the first to see you after the midwife and your Mom. Immediately, I claimed you to be mine. I thought you looked like me, even though your wife, Maryam, doubted it.

You were about two years old when your father travelled to the United Kingdom for his studies where your mom would later join him. I was left with you and your older brother, Bashir Magaji. We bonded.


When you were of age, you joined the Air Force Military School in Jos for your high school, I guess owing to a “spell” of grandmother, Mama Maryamu Ibrahim. She always referred to you at a very tender age, as “soja” (soldier) and to your older brother Bashir as “likita” (doctor).

You were mostly proactive, determined, ambitious and had a taste for good quality. I remember shortly before COVID-19, in 2019,  we spoke by phone. I was in a shoe outlet in Italy that was going out of business and I called to ask if you would be interested in some shoes that you could resell in Nigeria.

You said: “Ok, how much?” It was supposed to be a joint business. I bought the shoes, but I couldn’t send them immediately. Later on another trip, I brought some. When you saw them, you did not make any comment, which signalled that you had no interest in discussing “our business” further.

The shoes were not up to your standards, I could tell. You know quality and insist on it. Indeed, you were seldom known for reacting under strenuous circumstances or heard to place blame on others.


Friends and family can attest to your reliable ability to cover for others when they may be exposed or could be in an embarrassing situation. Part of your charm was admitting your mistakes, even in the face of adversity. It was a brave position you always chose to take.

How charming to combine all these with the powerful virtues of humility and the ability to competently accomplish tasks.

You did your National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Abuja and stayed at our house in Wuse, which was your home for over 12 years – until your demise.

Aries law firm (Dionisotti’s Chamber), our legal firm, gave you your first job after NYSC. Even though you read nothing related to law, you were able to fit into any role the office assigned to you.


You later joined a security outfit in Abuja and afterwards, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), where you rose to become a Chief Superintendent of Customs.

Your last two promotions in the service came in rapid succession. We were thrilled. Before the promotions, you had indicated your desire to move on from customs to do something else in life.


I encouraged you with the Hausa saying “kada a sake reshe ka kama ganye” –Don’t let go of a branch and hold onto a leaf– essentially, don’t be in a hurry to leave the service until you are sure of your next move. You agreed, and that made your promotions a time for joy and thanksgiving.

Your new position in the service, as a senior officer, humbled you even more. Whenever I visit Nigeria, despite my busy schedule, I see you almost every morning and every evening.


You would always “stand at attention” to greet me with a charming, never-ending smile – oh my Mallam Officer (my name for you). You always unearthed a murmuring stream meandering with the serenity of innocence, the real you.

You churn and whirl in the hearts of many. Most importantly, your wife Maryam, your three beautiful girls, Laila, Zara and Maryam (Mini), your adoring mother (whom I wasn’t sure would survive the next day since your passing, but by the grace of the Almighty Allah, she has).


Your Dad, siblings Yaya Bashir Magaji, Hussaina and Hassan Magaji, close and distant families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and people you have never met felt the charm that exuded from you.

On May 20 I returned to Abuja after spending time with your beautiful family in Kano and in Gombe, and a little more time with your mother (we mourn in the community). I arrived at our house, the one we shared in Abuja, with Uncle Joseph Audu, his family, Mallam Bello (our security guard) and his wife. Emotions ran high.

I thought I would be able to get a hold of my emotions, but I was wrong. The entire house of about 10 people erupted with mourning, and tears flowed freely.

After about two hours, Mallam Bello found his voice and said, “Our house is empty because Abdul is gone”.

Uncle Audu, whom I thought had it under control, broke down completely and kept saying, “Uncle Abdul has never lied to me in the over 12 years I knew him, but this time he deceived me.

“He told me he was travelling to visit with his family in Kano and coming back, but he is not coming back and it pains me deeply.”

Abdul, my Mallam officer, you were a charm, you retreated silently and loudly; sounds like an oxymoron; indeed, it is.

Your trap of charm was unassuming. You snapped shut on us. Sometimes you were an element of surprise; however for the most part, what you see is what you get.

Over the past few days, I and many uncountable others have lamented, saying that we should have been careful not to have given you the “keys to your hearts”. You have used those keys to lock us up in a cage of “awe and shock”.

My singular wish is that you are here to see how much you are loved and how we miss you so, so much – your daughter, Laila, also said that amid tears.

Your heavenly soul, Mallam Officer, now nests in the heights, it’s a true awakening union with the Almighty Allah. It was indeed tired of its house on earth, so it abandoned the flesh, the body, and took its final flight to the skies.

Abdulwahab, you are also a pearl now at the bottom of the sea, now so hard and difficult to reach. There was probably a lot going on inside you for you to detach yourself from these worldly splendours and glisten to be alone and rest.

Since your unexpected journey to that greater space, we are trying to make sense of your absence with us. Every time we try to dive into this sea of our unimaginable longing to be with you, the waves keep pulling us back.

We are yet to overcome those waves. We will continue to dive deep into our being and find the tiny pearl of unity with you as we, all mortals, will have to confront our end as well. Someday we hope that the tiny, invisible pearl nestled deep inside the endless Ocean of our soul will connect us.

For now, this is a bet that none of us has taken. We love and attach ourselves to the people and things in our life. We can’t imagine any other way. But all these people and things in life, as great as they can be, also have the potential to pull us away from God. And that is why we often feel a deep emptiness or sadness inside, even though we may be surrounded by the people and things we love.

May we be sober and learn that the key to happiness is to be one with God, the secret sound of the soul which can be heard by the spiritual heart, not by one’s ears or mind. It requires deep and tranquil silence, honed through many hours of reflection, meditation, letting go and letting things be.

As we immortalise you in every way, we desire to enter into the quiet silence of the soul to listen to what it reveals, its secrets, true wisdom, and peace.

While we sojourn this lowly earth, your passing is reminding us that we too, one day will travel to the deep or fly to the skies, when our soul which is from God, returns to Him. (Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajiun)

You are missed. You made your silent retreat from your deceptive charm. Only now, I am beginning to realise that it was bait after all. I will keep listening to that secret sound of revelation when your quest aspires to the skies. Fly away from this lowly earth, you did.

Sleep on, beloved husband of Maryam, and adoring father of Laila, Zara, and Mimi. A son like none, of your parents, Alhaji Audu and Hajia Aisha, brother to Bashir, Hassan, Hussaina and Umar, a lover of people, a giver without boundaries, a nourisher of millions, a young man with boundless capacity, an officer with goodness in your heart.

Sleep deeper because you have no yearning in your heart to wake. Sleep on with countless facets as we send you off with the highest level of admiration and love to the divine entity until we join you in your deep sleep.

With sincere gratitude to the ALL Powerful, Merciful, ever-knowledgeable Almighty Allah, rest Mallam Officer, our star in the galaxy, the charming thief who steals hearts and never fails because you are the friend of the One and in unity with HIM, GOD, THE ALMIGHTY.

P.S. Abdul, you must know that I wrote this piece over several weeks. It was a difficult one to write.

Ibrahim (Esq) wrote from Milan, Italy.

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
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