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Brutal murder of young Hanifa by proprietor of her school melts hearts, builds outrage; loss of moral compass yielding an amoral Nigerian society

Hanifa Abubakar, inset: The kidnap and murder of a five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar by her school proprietor, Abdulmalik Muhammad Tanko, in Kano, northwest of Nigeria has raised outrage on the social media.

The kidnap and murder of a five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar by her school proprietor, Abdulmalik Muhammad Tanko, in Kano, northwest of Nigeria has raised outrage on the social media.

Elsewhere in Zaria, residents have been thrown into mourning after one Kabir kidnapped an eight-year-old Asma’u – the daughter of his next-door neighbour, Alhaji Shuaibu Wa’alamu – and killed her after keeping her for over 40 days.

To veil his involvement in the heinous crime and divert attention from suspicion, Tanko, the proprietor of the school young Hanifa attended before her death, was among the early consolers at the home of the parents of Hanifa.

Believing that Hanifa had recognized his face, Abdulmalik Muhammad Tanko, the school proprietor, had his late pupil, dismembered her body and buried her in a shallow grave in the school premises.

Hanifa, the only child of her parents, was named Murja, after her aunt, who is also her guardian since she was two years old. She was abducted in December and her captors had demanded N6million ransom.

The mood in Kano metropolitan areas, with its over four million population, has been sombre since Thursday evening, with individuals gathering in groups to try to come to terms with the development.

“What did Hanifa do to you? Why did you kill my daughter?” Fatima Abubakar, Hanifa’s mother, demanded, as she charged towards Tanko at the Kano State Police Command on Friday. Hanifa’s father, Abubakar Usman, could not hold back tears when he spoke with journalists at the command.

“I am really in sorrow for what has happened. I can only thank God because this can happen to anyone, and it is said that everyone who lives today will die one day. So, I leave everything to God, 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. God will fight for us,” he said amidst tears.

The suspect, who did not show any remorse, confessed to using N100 rat poison to end the life of Hanifa. Tanko admitted to have picked Hanifa in a tricycle, taken her to his home, and telling his wife that Hanifa was the daughter of one of the women working in his school who travelled and that the girl would be staying with them for some days.

“I realized that the girl’s parents were informed that when picking her, she made mention of ‘uncle.’ This gave me the impression that they might be suspecting me as the uncle.

“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 5th day after the kidnap. That was when I conceived the idea of killing her,” Tanko admitted.

Tanko further revealed that it was around 11pm when the girl was already sleeping that he woke her up. “I was drinking tea at that time, so I put the remaining one in an empty container of yoghurt and poured a rat poison inside and gave it to the girl,” he narrated.

He said he later took her to one of his schools, where she died, adding that he buried her in the school because he was not able to find any secure place to dig a hole.

Neighbours had no suspicion that Tanko, a reserved person and proprietor of Northwest Preparatory School, could be associated with such unconscionable murder.Jummai Rufa’i, Tanko’s neighbour at his Tudun Murtala residence, said the entire community was still shocked by the gruesome murder he reportedly perpetrated. She said that despite the fact that she operates a provision store beside Tanko’s house, she never had any reason to enter his house as he normally kept to himself.

Another neighbour, Muhammad Garzali, also said that despite being a close neighbour, he could not speak on the character of the suspect as “he is very reserved.”

“The only person you would see him associating with is the other suspect he was caught with – his school guard. He visited him often and they would stand, discuss and leave.

Musa Abba Dan Kawu, executive secretary, Kano Private and Voluntary Institutions, , said the two schools operated by Abdulmalik Tanko were all legally registered, but henceforth cease to exist as they have placed closure notice on their premises. The schools are Noble Kids Academy and North West Preparatory School. While Hanifa was buried in the latter, she was attending the former.

For the kidnap and murder of eight-year-old Asma’u in Zaria, Kaduna State of Nigeria,  Asmau also known as Husnah, was said to have been lured by a neighbour identified as Kabir who later handed her over to his accomplices in December 2021.

The suspects were said to have killed the eight-year-old after collecting a ransom of over N3million from her parents. The father of the deceased, Shuaibu Wa’alamu explained to journalists in Zaria that his daughter was kidnapped on December 9.

“At first, we thought she had lost her way home so, we placed announcements in various quarters before reporting the matter to the police. However, we later discovered that she had been kidnapped after a call was placed to us demanding the sum of N15million for her release.” 

The father of the deceased said they continued to bargain with the kidnappers and eventually agreed to pay N2million for Husnah’s release.

“I was directed to take the money to a place at Rigasa, in Kaduna and I did. But to my dismay, after a while, they called and told me to bring another N1 million and N45, 000 before they will finally release my daughter.”

“This time around I was instructed to take the money to Tudun Wada, near Albania Cinema in Zaria and I complied. Though at that time, I requested to hear my daughter’s voice to be sure if she was alive and they obliged me. That was when she said, ‘Daddy, it is Kabir.’”

On January 9, he received a distressing call that his daughter was dead.

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