Sympathy and anxiety climbed to the zenith in Kano state yesterday as the principal suspect in the killing of five-year-old child Hanifa Abubakar told how and why he killed her. Abdulmalik Mohammed Tanko, 30, proprietor of Hanifa’s Noble Kids Academy, Kwanar Dakata in Nassarawa Local Government Area, Kano State, said he used N100 rat poison to murder her after collecting a ransom of N100,000 from the victim’s parents.
Moments before he was paraded at the State Police Command headquarters in Kano yesterday, Hanifa’s distraught mother, Fatima Maina, had charged at the suspect, raining slaps on him for putting her in sorrow. Hanifa’s father, Abubakar Abdulsalam, was however calm but tearful. He said his daughter’s killers “have not been fair to me, neither have they been fair to the world.”
He expressed optimism that God “will fight for me.”
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday mourned her death and sent a condolence message to her parents. Nigerians took to social media to demand justice in the matter while the Kano State Government shut down the school immediately. Giving details of the alleged murder, the principal suspect said: “I picked her inside Keke NAPEP and I carried her to my own house where I lied to my wife that the girl was a daughter to one of the women working in my school and that the mother travelled and pleaded with us to keep the girl for some days. My wife accepted and kept the girl for that reason.
“I realised that the girl’s parents were informed that while picking her, she made mention of ‘uncle’. This gave me the impression that they might be suspecting me as the uncle.
“Then after some time, after some days, some of my teachers visited my house very early in the morning and when they came, I was also suspecting that they were sent over to the house to find out whether the girl was there with me. That was on the fifth day after the kidnap. So, I decided that it was better I found a way before I would be caught.
“I first thought of sending the girl to another state, but again, I thought the whole town was aware that she was missing. If the girl was going to be sent out through the main roads, we would be caught. That was when I conceived the idea of killing her.
“I picked her up at home. She was already sleeping because it was getting to 11 pm. I picked her up… I used to take tea always… I was drinking tea at that time, so I put the remaining tea in an empty container of BoBo yoghurt and then I poured in this rat killer poison inside and gave it to the girl, not in my own house.
“When we went to the other school when we were passing, I told her that I was taking her back to her uncle’s house.
“So as we were going, I gave her the drink on the road and she drank it and then we entered one branch of the school; the branches are two. We entered the other branch with her and I told her I was going to pick something inside. She entered and that was where she finally died.
“I bought the poison for N100. I buried her in the school.
“Let me clear this doubt: people are thinking that it has to do with rituals. This is not rituals. I buried her inside the school simply because I was not able to find any secure place to dig a hole.”
Tanko was paraded along with Hashim Isyaku.
An uncle of the deceased, Suraj Sulaiman, said the principal suspect wept profusely when he visited Hanifa’s parents to console them following her disappearance in December.
Victim’s mother pounces on suspect
Hanifa’s mother, Fatima Maina, could not hold herself yesterday on sighting Abdulmalik Tanko at the Police Command Headquarters.
She and her husband, Abubakar Abdulsalam, had gone to the police headquarters in connection with the case.
They got there before the handcuffed suspects were brought in.
As soon as she saw them, Fatima charged at Tanko and began to rain slaps on him, demanding to know why he killed her daughter.
Fatima had to be stopped by police personnel who immediately whisked the suspects away.
Allah will fight for me, says Hanifa’s father
But Hanifa’s father, Abubakar Abdulsalam, was restrained. In a video posted by Daily Trust, Abdulsalam said he was leaving the matter to Allah to handle.
“I’m really in sorrow for what happened. I can only thank Allah. This can happen to anyone and it is said that everyone who lives will die someday. So I leave everything to Allah.
“But till I die, I will never forget this. Those who did this to me have not been fair to me, neither have they been fair to the world. Allah will fight for me.
“I am also thanking the Nigerian security forces, especially those whose efforts found my murdered daughter. May Allah fight for our rights. I am sincerely grateful to you. I can’t thank you enough, only Allah can reward you.”
Buhari mourns her
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed the nation’s condolences to the family of Hanifa Abubakar. He also praised the security agencies for unravelling the mystery behind the disappearance of Hanifa, and particularly for the arrest of her teacher and alleged accomplices. Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said in a statement that the entire nation which followed up on Hanifa’s travail every day since her disappearance in December last year was hoping for the girl to be rescued alive and well.
He said the thorough and painstaking detective operation by the law enforcement agencies which led to the discovery of the corpse and the arrest of the suspects who have already made confessions was commendable.
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Kano shuts down school
The Kano State Government yesterday shut down the school with Education Commissioner Muhammad Kiru saying the government would “commence an investigation of unregistered private schools and teachers to check such criminal activities.”
He said the breakthrough should instil more public confidence in the authorities.
“When breakthroughs like this happen, people will talk differently of law enforcement,” said the President.
Buhari prayed for the repose of the soul of the little schoolgirl and urged her parents to bear the sad loss with courage and fortitude in God.
The President urged the Police and 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.
Nigerians outraged by killing
By yesterday afternoon, Nigerians had posted 15,000 tweets on the hashtag #JusticeForHanifa. They sympathised with the family and called for justice to be served. Some others called for the death penalty for the suspect as contained in Kano Anti-Kidnapping Law. Salihu Tanko-Yakasai, a former media aide to Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, said: “The Kano Anti-Kidnapping Law states that anyone that kidnaps someone & the victim dies in the process, death penalty is the punishment for the kidnapper! I call for the death penalty for the barbarians that kidnapped & killed this little angel #JusticeForHanifa”
Mohammed Jammal popularly known as ‘White Nigerian’ tweeted: “This is too painful. #JusticeForHanifa”
Adam Sharada lamented:
“After kidnapping Hanifa for many weeks, she has been murdered! This is indeed a heavy slap to the face of Nigeria and the security sector. Verily, Hanifa has lost in doom and gloom. The challenge question is: Who killed Hanifa? #JusticeforHanifa”
Jacob Sule said:
“Very devastating news about the death of this young girl who was allegedly kidnapped and later killed by her teacher in Kano State. This is such terrible news, and I join my voice to demand for justice. No child deserves to be killed. #JusticeForHanifa”
Senator Shehu Sani, who represented the Kaduna Central Senatorial district posited that “the school is the only place you can trust your children to a people you don’t know. When teachers started becoming kidnappers, nobody’s child is safe. You can’t read the mind of man from his smiles. He fed Hanifa with rat poison, he deserves to be fed with it.”
Ganduje vows to secure justice for her
In a separate statement yesterday, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje pledged to “meticulously monitor and ensure the prosecution of anyone found culpable” in the kidnap and murder of Hanifa Abubakar.
Ganduje said through Information Commissioner Muhammad Garba that the operational licence of the school had been withdrawn.
“Government is terribly disturbed that people entrusted with the care of children only turn out to be their murderers,” Ganduje said.
He added that the government had been in touch with the family of the child and would remain so until justice prevails in the case to serve as a deterrent to others. He commended security agencies in the state for their prompt action that led to the arrest of those allegedly involved, stating that while the investigation was ongoing, the government would follow the case to its logical conclusion. The police on Thursday announced the arrest of the principal suspect who had allegedly abducted the girl and killed her even after collecting a N100,000 ransom. He had initially demanded N6 million as ransom.
Upon his arrest, Tanko, who confessed to the crime, led a combined team of operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and Operation Puff Adder to the shallow grave where he and his accomplice, Hashim Isyaku, buried the minor. The body was exhumed and taken to the Mohammed Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital for examination before releasing it to the family for burial according to Islamic rites, police said. Police spokesman, Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said: “On December 4, 2021 at about 2030hrs, we received a complaint from a resident of Dakata Quarters, Nassarawa Local Government Area of Kano State, that one Hanifa Abubakar, aged 5 years, was kidnapped and a ransom of N6 million was demanded.
“On receipt of the report, the Commissioner of Police, Sama’ila Shu’aibu Dikko, met with heads of security agencies in the state, strategised for effective service delivery and raised a team of Operation Puff Adder led by SP Shehu Dahiru to rescue the abductee and arrest the culprits.
“Sustained efforts led to the arrest of one Abdulmalik Mohammed Tanko, aged 30 years, of Tudun Murtala Quarters, Nassarwa, Kano State and one Hashim Isyaku, aged 37 years, of the same address.
“The suspects will be charged to court upon completion of investigation.”
Father of the slain girl, Abubakar Abdussalam, who was in the crowd of onlookers at the police command where the suspects were paraded, demanded the full length of justice. He appealed for “immediate prosecution” of the principal suspect (Tanko), screaming in tears.
“Kill this bastard now. Please do not spare him, please I beg you in the name of Allah,” he told police officers.