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Hanifa’s Murder: When A teacher Becomes Cheater

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By Bilyaminu Gambo Kong-kol

Kano is not only the commercial hub centre of Northern Nigeria but also a city that pours out hard news that attracts national and global concerns.

The inconclusive election and creation of four emirates in 2019, the dethronement of HRH. Muhammadu Sanusi II and the deaths of professors during Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, the emergence of strange diseases, Abduljabbar debate as well as incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his predecessors, Engineer Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau political conflicts have formed big banner headlines of many newspapers in Nigeria.

However, the report by the Daily Nigerian online Newspaper that suspected kidnappers had abducted a 5-year-old girl identified as Hanifa Abubakar around 5 pm, on Saturday, December 4, 2021, in Kano had attracted both attention and sympathy.

The news became devastating on Friday, the 21st of January, 2022 when the Kano State Police Command, through its Police Public Relations Officer, SP Haruna Abdullahi Kiyawa, released a video of the kidnapper, and killer of Hanifa Abubakar. In the video, Abdulmalik Muhammad Tanko, 34, the Proprietor of the Hanifa’s school, Noble Kids Academy, Kano who admitted to killing the young girl, told the Police that he succeeded in kidnapping Hanifa in a second attempt.

Mr. Tanko explained that he took the girl to his house after the kidnap and called her parents through the phone number they dropped in her file in his school to demand six million naira ransom. He, however, decided to take her life by giving her rat poison after realizing that his fellow teachers paid a suspicious visit to his house. After killing her, he called his friend, Hashim Isyaku, to help him bury the corpse.

In the video, the police went ahead with its medical team to dig the grave of Hanifa. Her body was found decomposing in a sack. Though the killer denied it, reports have it that he butchered the little girl to fit in the sack.

How did it begin?

The parents of the murdered 5-year-old girl, Mallam Abubakar Abdulsalam and Murja Sulaiman, in a separate interview, narrated the event that led to the arrest of the teacher who turned into a cheater. The girl after making du’a for leaving home, her last words were mummy buy me colourful candy when you go to the market, I want to give charity. She left home on Saturday, 4th December last year by 8:00 AM. On their way back home around 5:00 PM, they were given a lift by a man whom she identified as an uncle, the father said.

The lift turned to kidnap as it took Hanifa days without returning home. Shockingly, the kidnapper was among the sympathisers who paid a visit to the parents. He cried and prayed for her safe return, the parent said.

Eight to nine days after, the kidnapper texted, saying he could prove that the girl is with him by sending her sweater, badge, and picture. After sending them, he texted and asked the parents, did they see what he promised? They replied yes but demanded to hear her voice to confirm if she was alive. The kidnapper was rejected, citing reasons that he could be arrested. From that day, the mother could neither eat nor sleep

He texted again saying he would send them another evidence at Kwankwasiya village. There, he dropped her hijab and sent a text demanding six million ransom, adding that he would kill her if not paid.

Thereafter, the parents dropped a hundred thousand naira at the Kwankwasiya village for him. Security agencies planned to arrest him but he carried the money before their arrival. He texted them in less than 20 minutes, lamenting that if the money was not completed from Sunday to Wednesday, he would kill her.

The security personnel were informed. For the second time, the DSS arrested him while he was trying to pick up the money. Out of guilt, he told them that he was from Tudun Murtala and was there to interview his newly employed teacher, the parents revealed.

The following day, the parents were informed that the girl was killed. They both demanded justice and called on parents for proper monitoring of their children.

What are leaders saying?

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, expressed the nation’s condolences to the family of the schoolgirl whose body was discovered in a shallow grave in Kano after almost two months of fruitless search.

The President specifically ordered the police and the Ministry of Justice to uphold the integrity of the detective work that busted the case by preparing well and presenting a good case that will earn the respect of the court.

On his part, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, insisted that justice must be done to the gruesome murder of five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar Abdulsalam. He has vowed to sign a death sentence without further delay if given by the court where the suspected killer of Hanifa Abubakar is facing trial.

Also speaking on the same matter, the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, described the devilish act as unexpected in Kano but could be seen as a test from Almighty Allah. While condoling the parents, the Emir stressed the need for proper surveillance of children by their parents and guardians. He urged all titleholders to monitor schools under their domains. He also called on the authorities to treat the case with urgency and punish the culprit severely.

Also in a video circulated on social media, Malam Abdallahi Gadon Kaya, a Kano-based cleric, demanded that Tanko be killed the same way he killed Hanifa.

“His (Tanko’s) life is not more than this girl’s life, the way he took her life, his life should be taken also and let it be done publicly so that another person wouldn’t repeat such”, Cleric said in the video.

Reacting on her Instagram account, First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, who reposted the cleric’s video, said: “We are behind Mallam’s stance.”

In his article, a Public Health Advocate, Dr. Khalid Sunusi Kani said: “most of all, the mother is at risk of committing suicide. Yes, she is! This occurrence could ignite a series of events that could ultimately lead to her demise. It is worthy of note that the deceased is the only child in the family.

“At this point, it is crucial that her (Mrs. Abubakar’s) relatives monitor her closely, and offer her much-needed moral and psychological support. Please, it is also advisable to take away anything that could be used to harm oneself, be it a knife, chemicals, or drugs. If possible, let her be with someone that would be able to console her and lift her spiritually. That would comfort her and make her leave things to Almighty God. Surely, she shall get justice on the day of resurrection. All these tips are parts of the psychological therapy that she desperately needs at this critical point in time.”

Aisha Abdu Ghali Tade, who is a Primary two pupil, told her father that Hanifa’s murder has left everybody in grieve and sorrow.

In what seems to be correcting a wrong with a wrong, the Voice of America reported that irate youths burnt down the rented school building of Nobel Kids Academy on the 24th of January to express their anger at the ungodly happening.

How far so far at the court?

Abdulmalik alongside Hashim Isyaku and Fati Jibril was arraigned by the Kano State government through Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Lawan Musa Abdullahi before the Magistrate court on charges bordering on criminal conspiracy, kidnap, confinement, and culpable homicide contrary to sections 97, 274, 277, 221 of the penal code. The Chief Magistrate Judge Mohammed Jibrin after hearing the case on the first day, adjourned it to February, 2nd 2022.

However, Kano State Director, Public Prosecution, Aisha Mahmoud, has informed the Magistrate Court trying three suspects in connection with Hanifa’s death that it would terminate the trial following the successful filing of a fresh case before a Kano High Court.

What are the learned lessons?

One of the lessons is that trust is gradually diminishing. We could see that someone who is trusted and given child to train and educate her turned out to be her kidnapper and killer. Her file in his school became a channel through which he copied her parent’s contact and photocopied her passport to prove that he was the kidnapper.

Parents must be security conscious by having in-depth knowledge of the schools they send children to. We should investigate to know what are the morals and characters being thought in the school, who are the teachers? And what are the vision and mission of the school?

As humans, we also learned that despite your piousness and righteousness, you could be tested by the God Almighty. The teacher of Hanifa has been recognized by his community that he is a good member of society. This test is not for him only but for the entire people of Kano as it was never expected in the ancient city.

The government must learn to respond to issues with immediacy and urgency to avoid public disorder through misinformation, mal-formation or disinformation. The energetic angry youths could not have burnt the school if urgent action by the government was taken. We also need to get the vibrant youths with koboless pockets engaged in what to do if not for anything but for peace to reign in our state and Nigeria at large.

The case also exposed that we are technologically underdeveloped. The killer told the parents of the girl that if he called them, he would be arrested. This means that either he is using an unregistered line or bought a line that was already registered. Whatever the case may be, Nigeria must be up and doing in its technological advancement. Let us have a Nigeria where whether a text or a call, the person can be traced.

Finally, we must commend the police for their intelligence efforts.

Bilyaminu Gambo Kong-kol, Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano. bilyaminugambokonkol20@gmail.com



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