A former Nigerian beauty queen and doctorate student based in Philadelphia, United States, Najeebat Sule has been shot dead.
The 24-year-old, who was known to her loved ones as Najee, was killed while sitting in her car in front of her family’s home, and now her parents are in hiding out of fear for their lives, DailyMail reports.
Sule, who had only recently earned a Master’s degree in public health, was shot multiple times shortly before 6pm on March 12, just steps away from her residence in 8800 block of Frankford Avenue.
However, nearly three weeks after the unfortunate incident, police have not found a motive and have made no arrests, leaving Sule’s family and friends searching for answers.
Sule was sitting in her Toyota and texting with a friend outside her parent’s home when a gunman approached her and opened fire.
She was rushed to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.
According to Philadelphia Inquirer, Sule’s close friend, Habibat Magaji, who was among the last people to have seen Sule alive before she was gunned down, said; “I can’t think of anything that would make anyone want to kill her.”
The two women had spent the night before at Magaji’s home, eating snacks and watching Netflix together.
Less than 24 hours later, Sule was sitting in her gray Toyota Corolla, exchanging text messages with Magaji, when an unidentified man walked up to the vehicle with a gun drawn and shot her several times.
Sule’s father, Adewale Sule, heard the gunfire and emerged from the house just in time to see the suspect fire the last of the shots at his daughter.
“I saw the guy shooting my daughter. He shot the last round and I pursued him. He ran back to his car.”
In 2019, Sule became second runner-up at Miss Nigeria International and at the time of her violent death, she was pursuing a doctorate degree from West Chester University.
On her part, Sule’s mother, Tawakalitu, said she last heard from her daughter less than two hours before the shooting, when her daughter asked her when she was going to be home.
“All of my children have been crying every day because of their big sister. They really miss her. I miss my daughter.”
Najeet, Nigerian Beauty Queen, is survived by her parents and two sisters. ‘She was very talented, smart and funny,’ one of her siblings told 6abc.
The family are currently staying at an undisclosed location over unspecified concerns for their safety.
Sule and her family immigrated to Philadelphia from their native Nigeria in the early 2000s.
In 2019, she was crowned a second runner-up at the Miss Nigeria International pageant.
Pageant organisers speaking about her death on Facebook wrote;
“Queen Najibat was an amazing young lady whose presence at the Miss Nigerian beauty pageant left a great ripple that continues to resonate. She was a breath of fresh air and her presence added a distinct touch that made the event memorable. She carried herself with great dignity and grace and her strength of character and approachability made her such a joy to work with.”
Sule’s shooting death comes amid a surge in gun violence in Philadelphia, which has seen a 29 per cent homicide rate increase over the last year.
In the first three months of 2021, there have been 120 killings in Philadelphia, with 15 of the victims being children.