How Nigerian Imam, Alabi Escaped Death In New Zealand Attack. (Image Credit: Stuff)
How Nigerian Imam, Alabi Escaped Death In New Zealand Attack. (Image Credit: Stuff)

Grieving families of the mosques terrorist attack victims in Christchurch are anxious to be reunited with their loved ones.

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Concise News reports that Linwood mosque leader, a Nigerian, Lateef Alabi, escaped death when the attacker struck in one of the mosques on Friday.

“Everybody is angry, everybody is upset of course, and they want to see their dead ones and just want to pay their last respects and let them go to the grave, but the police have to complete their work and go through the normal procedure before they are released,” Alabi recounted the terror.

Alabi said the community leaders had requested the process be done as quickly as possible.

He and other leaders wanted the mosques re-opened with increased security.

“I’m very sad for what has happened, but I believe this country is a peaceful country and I hope something good will happen after that and the security will become tighter.”

The mood at the hospital was tense at times as some family members expressed their frustration and grief over the situation.

“They just want to express the anxiety and the pain they are going through … that’s all. Our people are very good; it’s not that they are angry with the police or the work they are doing. They just want to see … just to know that … ok, my father is gone, my brother is gone … so I just want to get him beneath the ground, beneath the earth.”

No time for the release of the bodies for burial had been agreed, but Alabi said it would “probably” start from Sunday.

Alabi became emotional talking about the grieving families.

“I never thought this would happen in New Zealand, never, never, never, believe me.

“But it’s happened, it’s happened, so it will happen anywhere and …. we just feel bad about those who have passed away … and for their families … I will pray for them.”

The volunteer imam states that he was in the middle of prayers when he saw the gunman outside the mosque.

“He shot one brother coming towards the mosque; he shot him from the head.

“I stopped my prayer, I peeked through the window, and I saw the person with a machine gun, heavily dressed. By the time I looked on the ground and saw dead bodies I thought this is something else, this is a terrorist.”

Alabi told everyone inside to “get down”, but it wasn’t until the gunman shot someone through a side window that everyone dropped to the floor.

He said the gunman ran out of bullets and dropped his gun. A man inside the mosque followed the shooter as he left the mosque. He picked up the machine gun and smashed it into the gunman’s car windscreen. After the gunman ran away, Alabi returned to the mosque.

“I started picking up the bodies to know who was dead and who was alive.”

Lateef Alabi at the entrance to Christchurch hospital after attending a police briefing detailing the return of bodies to grieving families of the mosque shooting victims. Alabi was unaware he was on the front page of The Press newspaper on Saturday. (Image Credit: Stuff)
Lateef Alabi at the entrance to Christchurch hospital after attending a police briefing detailing the return of bodies to grieving families of the mosque shooting victims. Alabi was unaware he was on the front page of The Press newspaper on Saturday. (Image Credit: Stuff)

Alabi said he had never expected to experience a terrorist attack in New Zealand.

“I’m very sad for what has happened, but I believe this country is a peaceful country and I hope something good will happen after that and the security will become tighter.”

It would take some time and lots of reassurance before many members would feel safe to return to the mosques.

“Probably even going to the mosque will be hard for members unless some serious security is provided.”

“I believe New Zealand will do it. The PM has promised it, and she will do it,” he said.