Abdulmalik Mohammed Tanko aka ‘Babanniya’ the self-confessed killer shocked many Nigerians when he admitted using N100 worth of rat poison to end the life of Hanifa, one of his students, because he feared the little girl would eventually identify him as her kidnapper. Daily Trust Saturday takes a peep into the life of the suspected murderer.
The 34-year-old vibrant and ambitious youth, married to Halima, and blessed with three kids reside at Tudun Murtala area of Kano state.
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He shot into the limelight albeit notoriously when it was uncovered that he was the main suspect in the abduction and eventual murder of five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar.
He attended Fatima International Primary School and then proceeded to Government Secondary School, Stadium, both in Kano metropolis and later attended Kano State Polytechnic where he obtained his Higher National Diploma in 2011.
As at the time he was arrested for the murder of Hanifa, Tanko was the proprietor of two schools, Noble Kids Academy and Northwest Preparatory School at Dakata and later at Tudun Murtala areas of Nassarawa Local Government Area of Kano.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that Tanko’s father, Muhammad Tanko, is an indigene of Rogo Local Government Area of Kano while his mother hails from Gumel Local Government Area of Jigawa State.
Tanko began a career as a school teacher at Ete-Inoh International School Tudunwada area of Kano where he was employed as a computer and general subjects teacher.
He was well known in Tudunwada area because he taught many young people in the area at one point or the other.
Mr Paul Inoh, who first employed Tanko as a teacher and subsequently appointed him the headmaster of his school, described the murder suspect as a reserved person who does not talk much or mingle much with people.
“I have known Abdulmalik Tanko since 2013. I employed him as a classroom teacher. I groomed him to be a well-trained teacher. He was doing very well up to the time an opportunity arose and I appointed him as headmaster of the school. He was the headmaster of the school for three years”.
Inoh added that though Abdulmalik left the school as a result of misappropriation of school fees, their relationship remained cordial.
He said the last time he saw Tanko was two years ago when he came to his house and requested for the receipt of all the money he was alleged to have misappropriated, promising to ensure proper reconciliation.
“I never set my eyes on him again until I heard of this unfortunate incident,” Inoh said, adding that he is yet to recover from the shock of the news.
“I don’t know what pushed him to do this. I don’t know whether it is the influence of his new friends that changed his character. To me, the whole incident is just like a dream, I couldn’t believe it. I have been crying for some days.”
Zainab Ahmad was a teacher at Tanko’s Northwest Preparatory School at Kwanar Yan Ghana Tudun Murtala, in Nassarawa Local Government.
“He was very good to us. He never quarrelled with us (teachers). He trained us to be good teachers to the pupils,” she said of Tanko.
“I left the school last year when I got admission. Though I have not been paid my last salary because of some financial issues in the school, I still respect him as my first employer”.
Malam Adamu Tela, a neighbour to Tanko’s Northwest School and also a parent of some of the pupils of the school, said that he withdrew his children from the school as a result of financial issues he had with Tanko.
“My children were among the pioneer students of the school. I later withdrew them when we had some disagreement over the school fees. You know as a low-income earner, I used to pay the school fees in instalments which Abdulmalik disagreed with. He preferred the payment to be at once,” he said.
Dahiru Sani, who described himself as a childhood friend of Tanko, said they grew up in the same neighbourhood.
He said they also worked together at the same private school at Tudunwada.
“He was the headmaster and I was the cashier of the school. The working relationship between us was cordial until when he requested some money from the school that he wanted to open a business centre at the school of health technology around 2015/16.
“I lent him the money out of the school’s treasury and he promised to pay back within the shortest possible time. That development led him to conspiring with other teachers to send me out of the school before the time of repayment.
“At last, he was caught for financial misappropriation which led to his dismissal, and he went to open Northwest Preparatory School at Tudun Murtala,” Sani said.
Also speaking, one of his students said, “He taught me from primary one to six. I am now an undergraduate. He’s really a nice person. Our houses are located in the same area, so we went to school and came back together most times.”
When Daily Trust Saturday visited Tanko’s house, a day after the unravelling of Hanifa’s whereabouts, Jummai Rufa’i, a neighbour at his Tudun Murtala residence, said the entire community was still shocked by the gruesome murder he reportedly perpetrated.
She said 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.
“Our children don’t enter his house. I even had my two children enrolled in his school; Northwest Preparatory before the school activities began to decline and I removed them this past term.
“It is unfortunate that someone people trusted with their children could go to this length. I couldn’t sleep yesterday,” he said.
On his Facebook profile, Tanko described himself as “Loving, caring, self sacrificing, compassionate, imaginative and expressive, cool-headed individual.”
A further check on his wall shows that the last post was on November 12, 2021, weeks before he allegedly kidnapped the child.
Efforts to reach his parents and siblings prove abortive as the parents are nowhere to be found and siblings met declined speaking to the media.