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    Little Hanifa: Tortuous road to justice

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    By Francis Ekeh, Abuja

    At last justice has come the way of little Hanifa Zubair after eight months of court trial of three suspects accused of the murder of the 5 year old pupil of Noble Kids Comprehensive College in Kano.

    The suspects are Abdulmalik Tanko, Hashimu Isiyaku and Fatima Musa.  However, Abdulmalik Muhammmad Tanko, the school proprietor was alleged to be the prime suspect.  On Thursday, a Kano State High Court, presided over by Justice Usman Na’abba, sentenced two of the suspects to death by hanging, bringing relieve to the parents of the late toddler and nation.
    However, the prosecution failed to establish the charge of abatement against Fatima, a nursing mother, but she was sentenced to one year for conspiracy and one year for attempting to commit the offence.

    The State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje had in December 2021 vowed to implement the verdict of the court.

    Hanifa’s murder shook the entire nation and called to question the competence and reputation of school managers in the country and their level of administration.

    The sentencing also brings to an end the wish of the Kano people in particular and Nigerians in general, to see the judiciary uphold justice.

    This is so because elsewhere across the country, similar cases involving abuses by school owners and administrators on pupils and students alike are still lingering in courts while many are yet at the prosecution stages.

    The instances are replete; from Lagos, Delta, Osun states, private school owners and administrators enjoy the luxury of official cover-ups at the highest levels of the Nigerian society aided by security and judicial officers.

    Although, Tanko, Hashimu Isiyaku and Fatima Musa were arraigned on charges of culpable homicide, kidnapping, concealing, and confinement of a kidnapped person, they confessed to the crimes even before arraignment. But many people thought the matter would fizzle out like those before it
    They were alleged to have kidnap and subsequently murdered Hanifa Zubair with rat poison powder and, thereafter, buried her in a shallow grave after collecting the sum of N100,000 being part payment of the N6 million ransom they demanded from the parents of the victim.

    Hanifa Zubair was reportedly kidnapped for ransom on December 2, last year, by the school proprietor Abdulmalik Tanko, and later murdered even after the ransom had been paid by the deceased’s parents.

    Tanko had confessed to the crime, claiming he murdered Hanifa following fears that the late girl was going to expose him for the crime.

    Hanifa’s remains were discovered buried in a shallow grave when policemen visited the school located at Kwanar Dakata in Nassarawa Local Government Area, Kano, last Thursday. She was the only child of her parents.

    Already, the state government has revoked the operating license of the school, Noble Kids Comprehensive College, even as angry youths in the state set the institution ablaze.

    The case which was originally listed at a Magistrate’s Court was in February this year transferred to the state High Court for hearing.

    This followed the request of the Chief Magistrate Muhammad Jibril of Magistrate Court 12, sitting at Gidan Murtala in Kano State who had ordered the case of Abdulmalik Tanko and his accomplices to be transferred to the State High Court number 6 before Justice Usman Na’abba on February 9, 2022.

    Counsel to the state government by Aisha Mahmoud applied to the court to adjourn the case to a higher court as the magistrate has no jurisdiction over the case.

    “The offences alleged to have been committed by the defendants are not triable by this court, so we are applying for a count charges before the High Court,” Mahmoud said.
    Delivering judgment on the case on Thursday, Justice Na’abba said the convicts conspired to kidnap Hanifa from Sheik Dahiru Bauchi Islamic Foundation in Kano, and killed the child.

    The five-year-old girl was then buried in a shallow grave in Northwest Preparatory School, located at Kwanar Yan Ghana, in Nassarawa Local Government Area, Kano.

    The prosecution team, led by the Kano State Attorney General, Musa Abdullahi Lawan, in his effort to prove his case, called eight witnesses and tendered 14 exhibits.

    The witnesses included the mother of the deceased, Murja Suleiman Zubair, DSS operatives that arrested Abdulmalik, and police officers that investigated the case.

    The exhibit tendered included confessional statements of the convicts, a photograph of the deceased, a hijab, and an Islamic school badge, among others.

    Last December during a visit to the family of the deceased, Ganduje pledge the determination of his government to endure justice for the late Hanifa

    “I will abide by the constitutional provision as the Governor of Kano to assent to the death sentence in the circumstance the judgment passed by the court against the culprits.

    “We have good confirmation from the court handling the process that justice would be done. No stone would be left upturned.

    “Whoever is found guilty of this heinous offence will also face death without wasting any time. As a government, we have already started the process.

    “Our constitution provides that, when a death sentence is passed, it is the constitutional power of the governor to assent to the execution of the culprit. I assure you all that, I will not waste even one second,” Ganduje added.

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