Husband of Igbo trader killed in Kano, Pastor Mike Agbahime, tells GIBSON ACHONU about how his wife was murdered and his cry for justice.
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 High Court.
Before the day your wife was killed, has there been a threat of violence against your family?
No, there was nothing like such.
How did your child and your relations receive the news of your wife’s murder?
My son and the entire Agbahime family, including my in-laws, Igbo community, church and other well-wishers were completely devastated on hearing the gruesome murder of my wife. This was because my wife was very committed to church activities. She was every good thing one could think of in a woman.
For how long were you married?
We got married on Saturday, November 20, 1982, and we have lived together for the past 34 years.
Did your wife ever complain to you that she was being threatened by any Muslim youth before the incident?
No, the only complaint she raised was about Dauda. Put simply, she was not in any trouble or had a problem with any person (Muslim), apart from Dauda Ahmed.
Did you get her corpse for burial?
Yes, when the burial was fixed for August 26, 2016, at Orodo, my home town, I had to take her corpse from the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital, Kano mortuary to Imo State for burial. We left Kano early in the morning of August 25, 2016, and got to Imo very late the same day. The burial took place on August 26, 2016. I appreciate my church and some members of the public for their assistance in the course of the burial.
Did the Kano State Government meet you after the incident to console you?
Before the suspects were declared innocent, I went to him (Ganduje) to notify him that the suspects had not been charged to court. He said that he would do something about it, but never did. What he did was to pave the way for them (suspects) to be declared innocent of the murder case.
Why did you relocate from Kano State?
I had to relocate because I reliably gathered that some Muslims were planning to kill me. This was because I am the prime witness to the matter.
How have you been coping five months after the incident?
It has been like hell on earth. I say this because after they killed my wife, vandalized my vehicle and destroyed my two shops (mine and that of my wife), I now depend on my siblings and members of my church for financial assistance. Presently, I am not doing anything.
What fresh things did you learn about Nigeria after the matter, especially on the call for national unity?
The saying, “One Nigeria” is just mere balderdash. I say this because the leaders’ mistake is a ‘leading’ mistake. To buttress it, if our leaders cannot keep the oaths of their offices and cannot respect the sanctity of life and our constitution, there is no need to talk about oneness in Nigeria. I also say this because even if the constitution condemns killing in one part of the country and declares other people who killed in another state innocent, I wonder what kind of constitution that is.
What steps did the Imo State governor and the House of Assembly take to get justice for you and your family?
In spite of several letters I sent to the state government and the Imo State House of Assembly, nothing has been done by the government to correct the abnormality and ensure justice for the murder of my wife, an Imo State indigene. Apart from the burial, which the Imo State Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere, some executive council members and Eze Imo, HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri, attended, there has not been a correspondence between the state government and I.
I want the Presidency, Senate, House of Representatives and the judiciary to compel the Kano State judiciary to re-arrest the suspects and charge them to a High Court in Abuja, where human right activists and NGOs, among others, would monitor the proceedings. This is because I have lost confidence in the Kano State judiciary.
The court ruled that the suspects had no case to answer. Do you know any of the arraigned suspects from Abdulmumeen Mustafa, Abdullahi Abubakar, Zabairu Abubakar to Musa Abdullahi apart from Dauda Ahmed?
Yes, I know all of them. Even at the police station, I identified all of them. All of us were in the same market (some of them in the same line). Permit me to state that Dauda Ahmed mentioned some of his cohorts on the run, but the police never arrested them.
A similar case happened in Kano in 1994 when a mob beheaded one Gideon Akaluka. Were you aware of the incident?
Yes, I was in Kano then.
What do you want the government to do for you?
There was a four-point resolution the Kano State Government took after the meeting.They should religiously implement those resolutions.
Has Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo invited you since you arrived in your state?
Yes, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State invited me and promised that the law must take its course on the murderers.