A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to death by hanging for killing his father, mother and three siblings in Kano nearly two years ago.
Bello Garuba was found guilty by the Kano State High Court yesterday for stabbing to death his ill father Garba, then an assistant director of the State Security Service, as well as his mother Habiba and siblings Hafsat, Khalifa and Murjanatu.
The convict, also known as Baba, was charged in November 2010 with five counts of culpable homicide at the family home along Zoo Road in Kano.Delivering the judgement, Justice Halliru Abdullahi yesterday said he found Baba guilty based on the "uncontroverted" testimonies of seven prosecution witnesses.
He said the evidence given by the convict's brother, Faruk, convinced the court that he committed the murders, and rejected argument by the defence counsel that some of the testimonies were contradictory.
Faruk, who was 10 years old at the time of the incident, told the court at the commencement of trial last year, that Baba used a knife to stab the five to death. He said he escaped the attack after taking refuge in a toilet.
Baba, who was a student of the Kano State University of Technology at the time, made a confessional statement to the police admitting the murders but later denied it, saying he made the statement following a death threat by the SSS.
He said he was woken up by screams on the night his family members were killed and blamed the attack on some men wearing masks.
Baba's legal team, led by Ahmed Raji, argued in a brief to the court that the evidence of Faruk should be discountenanced, saying it was wrong by virtue of Section 209 of the Evidence Act for a child to be summoned to give evidence.
Raji also said the two statements purportedly made by Baba, were conflicting, with one admitting to the crime and the order denying it. He urged the court to disregard both statements.
Reacting to the judgement yesterday, Baba's lawyer, Sa'idu Muhammad, said they would appeal and pursue the case "to its logical conclusion, through all the courts."
Some relations and friends of the convict who attended the session cried when the judgement was handed down.
The late Garba Bello was 54 years old and had been bedridden for about a month with a liver-related disease when he was killed. He was until then, an assistant director of the State Security Service in Sokoto.
He was killed along with his 40-year-old wif, Habiba, two daughters Hafsat, 15, and Murjanatu, 5, as well as son Khalifa, 14, at their Gandu Housing Estate home around 1.35 am on September 13, 2010, according to neighbours and relatives.
Shortly before she was killed, Habiba had put a distress telephone call to her elder sister, Hajiya Jummai, and told her that some people were trying to kill them.
Jummai had told Daily Trust that she received the call at about 1.40am and her sister was saying, "They are trying to kill us... They will kill me now…"
She said she hurriedly asked who were the attackers and Habiba muttered something that sounded like the name Baba. Jummai said after that, she heard some commotion in the background and then the line went dead.
Neighbours and police said Faruk and Baba were the only two family members who survived the attack.
Faruk escaped by cleverly locking himself in the toilet while Baba jumped a wall and escaped, the Police had said, adding that the killers did not take anything with them except the late Habiba's mobile phone.
But soon after, authorities said Baba had confessed that he was responsible for the murders. However, a family spokesman, Umar Danjani Hadejia, said Baba's confession was made under duress by the SSS.
He added that Baba told relations that the murders were committed by about seven people and he was not part of them. He said also that Faruk told family members that he saw someone named Aminu scaling the fence immediately after the attack but his statement with the SSS showed something different.