Interview by Punch
Can you give us a hint of your background?
I am Pastor Mike Agbahime, one of the senior pastors working at the Deeper Life Bible Church, Kano State. We (my late wife and I) were also into the business of plastic production in Kano. I am from Orodo, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State.
How long have you lived in Kano State?
I have lived in Kano for the past 45 years. I left for Kano on Wednesday, February 17, 1971 and reached there four days later on Sunday, February 21, 1971.
What happened the day your wife was murdered?
I was in one of our shops on Thursday, June 2, 2015. We usually closed by 3:30 pm and from the shop, we go to church. But there was one Dauda Ahmed, who had formed the habit of washing his legs (ablution) for prayers in front of my wife’s shop.
He did that each time he wanted to say his prayers. He would leave his shop, which was a bit far from my wife’s own, to do that. We reported the matter to the owner of the shop, one Alhaji Mustapha. Mustapha warned him many times to desist from doing that. He told him (Dauda) that if he wanted to do (ablution), he should do it in his shop. Also, the President of the Hausa Plastic Association in Kofar Wambai market, Kano, Alhaji Aminu, also warned him when the incident was reported to him. Aminu even told Dauda that they (market union) would take him to court if he did not change. He (Dauda) continued. Dauda was also fond of putting his goods in front of my wife’s shop in the early hours of the day.
Before she got to the shop, he would occupy the frontage of the shop with his goods. Whenever he was told to stop doing that, he (Dauda) would start uttering abusive words.
On the day my wife was murdered, a call came from one of our church members (who also has a shop in the market) while I was waiting for my wife to leave the shop so that we could go to the church. He told me on phone that some Hausa people were making trouble with my wife. I asked him why and he answered, “I don’t know.” It was then I asked him to give my wife his phone so that I could talk with her. Do you know that the (Hausa mob) did not allow the man to give her the phone? It was then that I quickly packed my wares to go and find out the problem. As this was going on, I met the same man who was with my wife at the market. He said, “Daddy, don’t worry, they have left her (my wife).” Later, my wife appeared. She told me that it was the same Dauda that did ablution in the front of her shop. She said that she told Dauda, “Why won’t you allow me to finish packing before you start pouring your water for ablution in my shop?”
After telling Dauda this, she told me that he held her hand and asked her, “Mekai fatah?” This phrase means “What did you just say?” My wife asked him, “What right do you have to hold my hand?” She asked him to leave her hand. She stated that if he did not leave her, that she would use one of the plastic products in the shop to break his head. Immediately Dauda left her, he started shouting “Allah Akbar.”
What did you do?
I then told my wife that since Dauda had started his trouble again, that we should go and see Alhaji Mustapha, the owner of the shop.
What happened after?
Alhaji Mustapha ushered us in. He (Mustapha) told us to go and come back on Saturday, June 4, 2016, so as to speak with Dauda and settle the disagreement. His office was upstairs. But as we were leaving through the staircase, we saw a teeming mob with weapons. Alhaji Mustapha tried to disperse them. He told them in Hausa that he would resolve the matter the next Saturday. They started abusing him, throwing stones at him. They called him kafir, meaning somebody who does not know Allah. When Mustapha saw that the mob was getting more aggressive, he opened his office, told us to go in and locked it. When they saw that Alhaji Mustapha had let us in and locked his office, they continued shouting Allah Akbar. As they were shouting, many others joined them.
What did he (Mustapha) do when they were gathering in greater numbers?
It is painful to tell you that Alhaji Mustapha, seeing how aggressive they were, slumped. But before he slumped, he had called the police. The Divisional Police Officer of the area came in with two other policemen. The three could not calm the angry mob. The mob climbed up in their numbers, broke the window, and jumped in.
What were you doing with your wife while this was going on?
We were praying to God to save the situation. When they later entered the office where we were hiding, they hit my wife on the head with very heavy iron objects and she immediately slumped and died. Having completed their mission, they all went back. They did not touch me.
What did the police later do?
The DPO later came in after my wife was killed and asked me, “Is she dead?” He was the one who told the other policemen to bring the police vehicle so that they could take her corpse to the mortuary. When they (mob) heard ‘mortuary’, they reinforced. When the DPO saw that they were coming in again in greater number, he called the area commander, complaining that they had killed my wife, adding that their own lives were in danger.
What was the response of the area commander?
The area commander deployed more policemen in the area. They arrived immediately and started shooting canisters into the air to disperse the crowd. It was the policemen who helped me to put her corpse inside the vehicle to the mortuary. The mob continued to throw stones at the vehicle as we were going to deposit her corpse in the morgue.
What happened next?
Not satisfied, the mob moved to my shop and vandalized it. They also smashed my car, which I bought not up to a year before the incident, to pieces.
Did the Kano State Government meet you after the incident to console you?
The true story was that on June 3, 2016, Governor Umaru Ganduje called a security meeting that involved all sheikhs, ulamas, state executive council members, Christian Association of Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Eze Ndigbo in Kano, Yoruba monarchs, Edo leaders, other ethnic nationalities leaders and the state commissioner of police. In that meeting, I was asked what happened, and I narrated the incident. After other comments, Governor Ganduje condemned the act, saying it was un-Islamic.
What was the resolution reached after the meeting?
The meeting resolved that justice must prevail and that the perpetrators of the act must be brought to book. It was also resolved that my family must be taken care of by the Kano State Government and lastly, that the state government would establish Islamic schools, where Islamic scholars would teach the people (Muslims) the real Islamic doctrines and traditions.
We learnt that Igbos in Kano wanted to launch a reprisal.
The resolutions of that meeting, which were announced on air, made them change their minds on carrying out a reprisal. There was a serious reprisal scheduled to hold on Friday, June 3, 2016; probably a state of emergency would have been declared in Kano State if such had happened. It is pertinent to state that Eze Ndigbo in Kano also called an emergency meeting immediately, where Igbo and other ethnic groups, were asked not to take the law into their hands and that the state government had, in totality, condemned the act.
Were there other developments?
While my wife was still in the mortuary, leaving our only son and me, the police arrested the suspects. They succeeded in arresting Dauda Ahmed and one other person. This was when Solomon Arase was the Inspector-General of Police. The then IG also dispatched a team of detectives from Abuja to Kano. The detectives arrested three suspects. I gathered from a reliable source that Dauda confessed to the crime in writing (in Hausa language), saying that he planned and killed my wife in order to take over the shop. The other suspects also confessed to the crime. I was later called by the police to identify all of them, which I did. This was because I knew all of them.
What is your assessment of the way the police handled the matter?
It is painful to disclose that after a while, the other two runaway suspects reappeared in the market. The police were informed about this development, but for a reason which I did not know, they (police) shielded them (from arrest). Again, when the police had completed their investigations, they told me that they were ready to prosecute the suspects. But for a reason best known to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kano State, he refused, for five months, to file a charge against Dauda and the other arrested suspects.
He (commissioner) refused to take the suspects to the High Court for prosecution. On the contrary, the police in Kano wrote to the then Deputy Inspector-General of Police, who is now the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for advice. To the dismay of the general public and the international community, a court recently released the suspects, declaring them innocent. It is important to note at this point that the case was in the magistrates’ court for five months without being charged to … Read full in Punch