By Seyi Odewale, with agency report
A Kano High Court yesterday sentenced a school proprietor, Abdulmalik Tanko, and his accomplice, Hashimu Isyaku, to death by hanging for the murder of a five-year-old pupil, Hanifa Abubakar.
Tanko, Isyaku, and a 26-year-old woman, Fatima Musa, who all reside in Tudun Murtala Quarters, Kano, were arraigned on February 14, on a five-count charge of criminal conspiracy, attempt to kidnap, abetment, kidnapping, and concealing of the kidnapped person.
Delivering judgement, Justice Usman Na’abba, held that the prosecution proved its case with ingredients beyond a reasonable doubt.
“PW1, PW2, exhibit 11, 12, 13, and oral evidence of the defendants tendered by the Prosecution proved their case. The court discharges and acquits the third defendant Musa for abetment. She is sentenced to two years imprisonment being a mother for conspiracy and attempt to kidnap,” the Judge held.
Earlier, the Defence Counsel, Mrs Hasiya Muhammad-Imam, pleaded for leniency and urged the court to temper justice with mercy on behalf of the defendants.
“My Lord Tanko is a father of three, Isyaku is the bread-winner of his family while Musa is a mother,” she pleaded.
But the prosecution counsel, Musa Abdullahi-Lawan, who is also the Kano State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said the case was a crime against humanity.
“I urge my Lord to impose the maximum sentence against the first defendant. The First defendant decided to kidnap Hanifa and decided to kill her because she is old enough to recognise him. The mother of late Hanifa should have justice,” Abdullahi-Lawan said.
The prosecution counsel presented eight witnesses and tendered 14 exhibits to prove their case against the defendants and recovered N29, 000. The defence witnesses were the three convicts.
Tanko, who is the proprietor of Nobel Kids Comprehensive College, Kano, kidnapped Hanifa, on December 1, 2021, and held her hostage in his house at Tudun Murtala for days before killing and burying her in a shallow grave on December 10, 2021.
In Tanko’s confessional statement, he gave Hanifa some tea mixed with rat poison and collected N100, 000 as ransom out of the N6m he demanded.
The offence, the prosecution said, contravened the provisions of Sections 97, 85, and 276, 274(b), 95, and 277 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kano State, 1991.
•Kano Gov, Ganduje, waiting to sign the death warrant
Meanwhile, in January this year, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said he would sign the death warrant immediately if the suspect arrested over the killing of Hanifa Abubakar is sentenced by the court.
The governor assured the family that justice would prevail in the case, adding that there will be a speedy trial.
“There is no doubt, just like our scholars have said, this incident that happened is a situation we have not experienced before. But like they said, it is God that gave us this girl and she has returned to her creator. You can only continue to pray for her,” the governor said in Hausa.
“As the governor, we will ensure that there is true justice.
“The ministry of justice has also assured us that good judgement will be carried out. Anyone who has been confirmed to have killed a person unlawfully has committed a murder offence.
“According to the Nigerian constitution, if anyone is found guilty of murder and convicted, the governor will be asked to approve his sentence and by the grace of God, if they reach such a decision, the governor will not take even a second to sign the sentence.
“The court should give the order and ensure anyone who commits such an act is sentenced without wasting time.