A school proprietor in Kano, Abdulmalik Tanko, being tried along with others for the kidnap and murder of his pupil, Hanifa Abubakar, has opened his defence.
On Monday, he opened his defence, denying committing the offence.
Mr Tanko, 34, alongside Hashimu Isyaku, 37 and Fatima Musa, 26, all residents of Tudun Murtala Quarters, Kano, are standing trial before the Kano High Court.
They face a five-count charge of criminal conspiracy, attempt to kidnap, abetment, kidnapping and concealing the dead body of the five-year-old pupil.
Led in evidence by M.L. Usman, his defence counsel, Mr Tanko said he and two other defendants did not know how the pupil died. He told the court that in December 2021, he had a financial problem and went to the bank to secure a loan but was told he had not satisfied the requirements.
“On December 4, 2021, I decided to go and pick Hanifa from Islamiyya School with a tricycle, which I hired and took her to my house situated at Tudun Murtala Quarters Kano. On arriving home, my wife asked me whose child she was, and I told her she was the daughter of one of my staff who travelled and would be back in two to three days,” the accused explained.
Continuing, he stated, “On December 10, 2021, I was on my way to the market when I met one Habu, who applied for a job as a security guard in my school but was yet to be employed. I told him I had a simple job for him and that he should come over to the school at Tudun Murtala. I told him that there was a child he would look after for me for only one day, within the school premises.”
He further told the court, “We exchanged telephone numbers, and he accepted to come over at 11:30 p.m., after which we parted ways. On the same date, at about past 10:00 p.m, I left the house with Hanifa while she was seriously sleeping; the distance from my house to the school is not far. Hanifa slept in one of the offices on a three-seater chair in the office, and I locked and left her in the school.”
He also testified that on his way back home, he tried reaching Habu, adding that the next day at about 7:30 a.m., he went to the school and was shocked to find Hanifa still sleeping in the same position he left her.
”I touched her hand, and there was no response”, he added, telling the court that he lied to the second defendant to come over to bury the corpse enclosed in a sack on his school premises.
During cross-examination, the prosecution counsel, Kano’s attorney general Musa Abdullahi-Lawan, asked the defendant if the second and third defendants knew the pupil was kidnapped and how she later died. Mr Tanko responded that the two were unaware that the pupil was kidnapped and of the circumstances that led to her death.
The judge, Usman Na’abba, adjourned the matter until May 10 for the continuation of the defence.
The prosecution counsel had, on April 12, closed its case against the defendants with nine witnesses and tendered 14 exhibits.