A former Nigerian beauty queen and doctorate student from Philadelphia has been shot dead 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.
Najeebat Sule, 24, who was known to her loved ones as Najee, was killed shortly before 6pm on March 12, just steps away from her residence in the 8800 block of Frankford Avenue.
Nearly three weeks later, police have not found a motive and have made no arrests, leaving Sule’s family and friends searching for answers.
Nigerian pageant queen Najeebat Sule, 24, was shot multiple times and killed in Philadelphia on March 12. She had only recently earned a Master’s degree in public health
Sule was sitting in her Toyota and texting with a friend outside her parent’s home when a gunman approached her and opened fire
‘I can’t think of anything that would make anyone want to kill her,’ Sule’s close friend Habibat Magaji, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Magaji was among the last people to have seen Sule alive before she was gunned down.
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,’ said the father. ‘He ran back to his car.’
In 2019, Sule became second runner-up at Miss Nigeria International
At the time of her violent death, Sule was pursuing a doctorate
Najeet was rushed to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.
Her mother, Tawakalitu Sule, said she last heard from Najeet 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,’ she said.
Najeet 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.
Sule had only recently earned a Master’s degree in public health from West Chester University and was pursuing a doctorate.
In 2019, she was crowned a second runner-up at the Miss Nigeria International pageant.
‘Queen Najibat was an amazing young lady whose presence at the Miss Nigerian beauty pageant left a great ripple that continues to resonate,’ pageant organizers wrote on Facebook. ‘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.’
Friends remembered Sule for her love of travel and fashion, and her feminine style
Nearly three weeks later, Philadelphia police have no motive and no suspect
Friends said Sule loved shopping and travel, and had an ultra-feminine style that was reflected in her all-pink, sparkly bedroom décor.
Sule is among 120 people who have been killed in Philadelphia so far this year
Her Instagram page, which has more than 3,000 followers, features photos of the glamorous PhD student modeling a wide variety of fashionable outfits and accessories.
‘Our joke was that she was like a Nigerian princess,’ Sule’s high school friend Tamira DeSeignoria told the newspaper. ‘Whatever Najee wanted, Najee got.’
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, reported Fox 29.
‘This is absolutely unacceptable,’ Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said on Wednesday during a meeting about the latest crime statistics, stressing that ‘these are human beings that we’re talking about.’