The fact that it was carried out by a soldier paid with taxpayers’ money to defend the citizens made the murder of famous Yobe State cleric, Sheikh Goni Aisami more disturbing. The revered cleric was reportedly killed by John Gabriel in the Karasuwa Local Government Area of the state. Gabriel and his partner in crime, Adamu Gideon are both serving at the 241 Reconnaissance Battalion, Nguru.
It was reported that the cleric was travelling from Kano to Gashua in his Honda Accord Car marked KBT 31 AE and arrived at the military checkpoint at Nguru where Gabriel requested for a lift to Jaji Maji. Unaware of Gabriel’s intention, the Sheikh obliged but before reaching Jaji-Maji town, the killer asked him to park claiming there was an unusual noise at the rear tyre. The cleric came down and was checking the tyre when the suspect reportedly shot and killed him.
After trying fruitlessly to start and run away with his victim’s car, Gabriel who had deposited his corpse in the bush sought help from one of his colleagues, and an electrician. It was while they were trying to start the car that a passerby saw the sheikh’s corpse and raised the alarm leading to the apprehension of Gabriel and his accomplice.
The Yobe State command of the Nigerian police, in a statement issued to the media, said the culprits have confessed to committing the heinous crime. From the police report of the incident, it is clear that the killer soldier’s motive was to dispossess the cleric of his vehicle and possibly other belongings. Essentially, what happened was an act of armed robbery pure and simple.
Like most Nigerians, this newspaper is perplexed at the fact that a soldier perpetrated this dastardly act. Gabriel and his accomplice are a big disgrace to the Nigerian Army as their attitude negates the professional standing and high regards with which the Nigerian Army is held all over the country. Indeed, they are part of the proverbial bad eggs giving the army and other security agencies bad names. They clearly do not belong there. As should be expected, the act has been condemned by most Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari.
This unfortunate incident involving soldiers paid to serve and protect the best interest of the nation further brings to light the vexed question of the recruitment process into the nation’s security services. Could he have mastered the art of robbery after his enlistment into the army? Was he already into armed robbery before joining the army? What is the level of background checks done before, during and after recruitment by the army and other security organisations?
Army Dismisses 2 Soldiers Over Murder Of Cleric
These are some of the pertinent questions that the security agencies, especially the Police, must provide answers to. There, also, must be thorough investigation and prompt prosecution of the culprits in line with the provisions of the criminal code which clearly spelt out the punishment for murder.
For emphasis, Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code provides that: “Subject to the provisions of this section of this code, any person who commits the offence of murder shall be sentenced to death.” For killing an innocent and unarmed civilian, Gabriel and his collaborator do not deserve to live. They must have their day in court and receive due justice reserved for evil minds like them.
It is pertinent to emphasise that all those who are going to be involved with the investigation and prosecution of this case must necessarily apply due diligence so as to ensure that justice is served on this matter. Even more importantly, we insist that the application of criminal justice in this particular case must be carried out expeditiously. We are aware that these criminals are soldiers. It is on that score that we are appealing to the army to allow due process to be followed. Once crimes are left unpunished, it serves as an incentive for other criminals to commit more and the society is the worse for it.
It is sad that in a perilous time like this when the nation is battling all forms of criminality; persons saddled with the responsibility of combating crimes have turned themselves into criminals. Little wonder, therefore, that the war on banditry and other forms of terrorism, including kidnapping, have remained intractable.
There are widespread allegations of collusion between some security personnel and the criminals. Gabriel’s action has lent credence to such allegations because a soldier who can kill and dispossess civilians of their belongings can commit any crime including abduction for ransom.
While we wait for the legal process to take its full course on this matter, it is pertinent to laud residents of Jaji Maji for not taking the laws into their hands by attempting to extra-judicially kill the soldiers and their accomplice. Nigerians must be unanimous in condemning criminality, as it has no race, ethnicity or religion.