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ELEGY FOR PROFESSOR AHMAD MUSTAPHA FALAKI

Today, this Column is singing yet another dirge, this time on the tragic murder of one of our own, Professor Ahmad Mustapha Falaki of Ahmadu…

Today, this Column is singing yet another dirge, this time on the tragic murder of one of our own, Professor Ahmad Mustapha Falaki of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, who was callously killed near Fala, Tudun Wada Local Government Area of Kano State last Saturday. He was buried on Sunday in Kano. Allahu Akbar! May Allah forgive him and admit him to paradise, amin.
Earlier reports of what happened were so wild and so unbelievable that one waited eagerly for the truth. At first it was said the professor and his travel colleagues had run into armed robbers, abandoned their vehicle, escaped into the bush, met Boko Haram militants on the prowl, and were killed by them. Another version, which was peddled by the police and carried by several newspapers, was that the professor was lynched by the peasants of Fala village, who ‘suspected’ he and his colleagues were Boko Haram. Incredible! Unbelievable! For a person that has spent his entire life working for the peasants?
Finally, the truth came in the form of a petition addressed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) written by the professor’s family and signed by his brother, Aminu Mustapha Daneji. The petition is reproduced here almost verbatim:
“On Saturday February 14, 2015, at the village of Fala, Tudun Wada Local Government Area, Kano State, at about 18.30hrs, Professor Ahmad Mustapha Falaki of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, was attacked by police personnel on the pretext that he was a suspected member of Boko Haram. He was a renowned Professor of Agronomy and substantive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) of the ABU, and was the former Country Director of the SASAKAWA Project in Nigeria. He is survived by three wives and 18 children.
“[Professor Falaki] was in the company of his driver, Lawal Ahmad and younger brother, Abbas Mustapha Falaki [on the trip leading to his death]. The account given by the police was that they [the police] had killed one Boko Haram member and injured two others who were in their custody. This was broadcast over the radio. Another version the police offered was that the deceased and his fellow travellers were lynched by a mob in the village.
“Based upon the testimony of the accounts of the survivors of the attack and other eye witnesses to the events of that day, we stoutly dispute both versions and briefly state our understanding of what transpired that fateful evening as follows:
“At about 16.00hrs, when Professor Falaki realized that their Hilux van had had a slightly deflated tyre, he asked his driver to park by the roadside and replace it… Just then, some unknown persons, nine in number and riding three motorcycles, descended upon them and demanded for the vehicle’s key. The deceased immediately directed his driver to hand over the key. The nine riders sped away with the vehicle, abandoning a motorcycle on the scene.
“Using his mobile phone, the deceased made frantic attempts to notify his transport officer at ABU to have the vehicle electronically tracked. Meanwhile, members of the public from the village were milling around and sympathizing with the deceased and his party on this apparent armed robbery. At this point, the professor notified his family members by phone on their predicament. For close to two hours, the deceased was busy making contacts with ABU staff as well as friends in Bura village and Kano, and mingling with the villagers. In fact, they even prayed at the scene.
“Suddenly, some persons who identified themselves as policemen appeared on the scene, allegedly in pursuit of Boko Haram members who had earlier laid siege on the Police Post in Kibiya town of Kano State. Professor Falaki identified himself to them, presenting them with his ABU Identity Card and his Driving Licence. The driver also identified himself with his Driving Licence.
“For some inexplicable reasons, the policemen ignored the identification, insisting that for all they cared the deceased and his entourage were members of Boko Haram who had escaped from Kibiya. They then began to strike the professor and his fellows with machetes, clubs and gun butts. The deceased was struck a fatal blow, and he died on the scene. Abbas the brother sustained deep cuts to his forehead, face and body. Out of fear, the driver attempted to flee but was chased and apprehended, and also beaten up.
“The body of the Professor Falaki was transported to Murtala Muhammed Hospital, Kano, by the police. The driver and Abbas were chained and detained at SARS in the premises of the State Police Command, Bompai, Kano. Therefore, the police account of ‘lynching’ is not true at all. The deceased was not lynched by the villagers of Fala. In fact, the deceased had mingled with the sympathetic Fala villagers for over two hours before the arrival of the police. He had even prayed there.
“In view of the foregoing, we make the following demands: That this suspected act of extra-judicial killing be thoroughly investigated and any person who has a hand in it be appropriately dealt with, as provided by law; That the report of the investigation be made available to the members of the family of the deceased and his employers, A.B.U, Zaria; Pending the conclusion of the investigation, we request for retraction of the statement by the police that the deceased and his entourage are members of Boko Haram, and the retraction must be given the widest publicity possible.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, we reserve our legal rights to pursue other remedies in other appropriate fora, including the enforcement of their rights, as guaranteed by law and the Nigerian constitution,” concluded the family.
Inna lilLahi wa inna ilaiHi raji’un! (We are from Allah, and to Him shall we return.) There are so many good things to say about the late professor: he was immensely humble and kind; he was tireless in his work for the farming peasants; he was a community leader who was accessible to all. But, because of space constraints, we shall have to limit the ‘WHO Ahmad was’ for another day, and concentrate on the ‘WHY was he killed’.
To put pressure on the IGP to immediately cause the incident to be investigated, the authorities of ABU, the institution’s academic staff union, ASUU, as well as an NGO, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) based in Ilorin, have weighed in on the family petition too. (As does this Column!)
In a follow-up letter to support the petition, ABU Vice Chancellor Professor Abdullahi Mustapha urged the IGP to take immediate action. (And the IGP is said to have promised to take the action required.) On their part, the ABU ASUU, in a statement Thursday signed by their Chairman and Secretary Dr. Muhammad Kabir Aliyu and Dr. Mustapha Liman respectively, also urged the IGP to arrest those responsible for the murder or universities in the country may be forced to shut down. And the MMWG, in a statement by its National Coordinator Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, asked a very pertinent question: Are policemen so illiterate in Nigeria that an academic of such high calibre could be killed in such a heartless manner after he has produced evidence to identify himself?
May Allah forgive Ahmad Mustapha Falaki; may He grant his family and us all the fortitude to bear this loss. Particular condolences to his sister, the one we call Yakumbo, the Grand Matron of Hassan Ibrahim Gwarzo Secondary Schools, Kano. Allahummaghfir li Ahmad, warhamhu, warhamna ba’adahu, amin.
HasbunalLahu wa ni’imal Wakeel! (Allah is Sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs).

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