SPECIAL REPORT: Inside the Story of Missing Bauchi Man Tortured and Vanished, as Family Push for Justice

The disappearance of 35-year-old Alhaji Sabo Halilu of Burnuku village in Gamawa local government of Bauchi State, over six months ago has left his family members and relatives grappling with a year-long uncertainty. 

Alhaji Sabo Halilu, a local businessman and father of nine, vanished under suspicious circumstances after being taken into custody by the village head on allegations of theft. What followed was apparent extrajudicial actions, influence peddling, and then a family’s relentless pursuit of the truth.

Front Picture of Alhaji Sabo Halilu

It was a typical afternoon when Sabo was summoned to the residential house of Ballanna village head’s (Bulama), Alhaji Ado house to answer charges of stealing two donkeys – a charge he vehemently denied. Witnesses saw him enter and tired up, but he never came out. 

The village Head insisted that Sabo would be taken to the District head of Gamawa, a claim the family members said findings proven to be untrue, “They did not take him to the District Head. Likewise, we moved to the Police and no report of him.”

Bulama, in his statement before the police, acknowledged keeping the missing Sabo in his house over alleged theft, but asserted that one Jauro Tukur and one Teri (residents in the community) came and went away with the victim, a claim the duo refuted.

Jauro Tukur and Teri maintained that they saw the victim tied up in the Bulama’s house and passed on to their way leaving him tied with the Bulama.

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Driven by a thirst for justice, Sabo’s family pushed for an investigation which eventually saw the trio of Bulama, Jauro Tukur and Teri, as well as local vigilante attached to the Bulama’s house Amadu stand trial in a court and remanded for 20 days.

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The alleged influence of some top political figures of Bauchi State in the case tarnished the hope for justice, with allegations of bribery surfaced, tainting the proceedings and ultimately leading to the bail of all four accused.

However, Jauro was reportedly killed in another dubious circumstance weeks after the bail.

As months passed, with no word from Sabo, his family’s desperation grew. His children, unable to grasp the full scope of the tragedy, frequently asked, “Where is Baba?” His brother Buba told WikkiTimes.

With little information and nobody to be found, the family was tormented by unanswered questions. Had Alhaji been killed? And if so, where was his body? The uncertainty of his fate was a constant grieve over the family.

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Over six months later, the wives and other family members of Sabo demanded to know the fate of their elder member. “Let us know if they killed him, we go to mourning – Sabo deserves justice as any other human being.”

Burden on Sabo’s Brother

Barely a year after Sabo Halilu left behind three wives and their 13 children, thrust into a world of uncertainty. In the absence of a breadwinner, it fell upon his immediate Buba Halilu to step forward and assume responsibility for his brother’s shattered family.

Despite the financial strain and emotional toll, each day, Buba rises before dawn to start his work as a commercial motorcyclist. As also a family man his earnings are not solely for his family; they are also a lifeline for Alhaji Sabo’s three wives and nine children.

Sabo’s three wives are forced to become temperamental widows, and Buba feels a growing sense of dread, “We knew something terrible had happened,” Buba recalls, “Alhaji was a good man, dedicated to his family and honest. He didn’t deserve this. 

Buba Halilu, a brother to missing Alhaji Sabo Halilu

“He was never convicted of any crime. He was going to the Garin Alkali market to get food for his family when the Bulama himself intercepted him.”

Ahmed Wakil, the Spokesperson for the Bauchi State Police Command said the police act when a case is reported, and he does not have records of such incidents from that area.

However, WikkiTimes learnt that the case was initially handled by the Assistant Commissioner (AC) in the state before it was taken to the court.

Barr. PB Elisha, the counsel to the Sabo family, told WikkiTimes that what happened to the victim was a clear violation of human rights. “After the torture, did they kill him? Is he alive? We don’t know. Our utmost demand is to know his fate – dead or alive – and we deserve to know this.”

According to him, the case is now being taken over by the Bauchi State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, with three different adjournements without hearing the case before the court.

He lamented that most of the cases where laws are taken into non-state actors, innocents are always affected and sometimes lead to death, “and this is what we don’t want. Let him be prosecuted before any court and if convicted, the wrath of the law should go aginst him. But mob justice or taking laws into our hands usually result to extrajudicial killings of innocent, and we must protect that.”

The case of Alhaji Sabo caused anxiety within the community, as residents began to fear the unchecked power of their leaders. “If this could happen to Alhaji Sabo, it could happen to any of us,” said Salisu Mamuda, a local businessman.

In 2023, three people falsely accused one Usman Abubarka for robbing one of them of his manhood and subsequently lynched him to death. But investigation later confirmed that the deceased was innocent. And this one of the several examples where innocents are mistakenly or unlawfully killed by criminals.

Innocent lives are often lost due to mob justice, mistaken identity, or the excessive use of force by security forces. And addressing these requires a concerted effort to uphold the rule of law, protect human rights, and ensure accountability for those responsible for unlawful killings, according to Barr. PB Elisha.


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