BY Beatrice Gondyi, Bauchi
Having waited for three years, justice has finally been given to Zainab Mohammed, a cripple who was raped and had one of her eyes plucked out by men who ordinarily should have protected her.
Justice Rabi Umar, on Wednesday, 6 December, 2017 sentenced two of the men, both middle aged, who assaulted her to life imprisonment.
Forty year-old Zainab, who at the time of the assault was 37, was returning home from a coronation ceremony held at Lukshi village on 1 March, 2014 when the men pounced on her and raped her and plucked out one of her eyes.
But it did not take the police in Dass, the headquarters of Dass Local Government Area of Bauchi State much time before they caught up with the convicts.
Delivering her judgment in the case brought before the court by the police, Justice Umar, who doubles as the Chief Judge of the state, said the convicts, Mohammed Sani, alias Bambi, 30, and Sabo Rabo, alias Bullet, 40, of Dass and Toro Local Government Areas, conspired and raped the woman at Yelwan Dawani in Toro town on March 1, 2014.
According to her, the two men were brought before her on March 4, 2015 and charged with conspiracy, rape, causing grievous hurt and attempt to commit culpable homicide.
The judge added that one of the defendants, Bitrus Yakubu, alias Japan,died at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) Bauchi, while on remand.
She, however, discharged and acquitted Usman Sambo, alias Galambi, 35, who was implicated in the matter, for lack of evidence.
Umar held that, the “prosecution had proved his case beyond reasonable doubt, therefore, the court has no option than to sentence the two convicts to life imprisonment without an option of fine.
“I have heard the plea for leniency but I will be quick to say that the first and second defendants deserve no sympathy because their action reveals how callous and barbaric they are.
“I, therefore, could best describe you as devils in human skins who must be taken away from the streets.”
The convicts’ journey to prison began three years ago when they were arrested by the police along with their co-accused. Announcing the arrest of the culprits, the then Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) in the Bauchi State Police Command, Haruna Mohammed, in a statement he made available to journalists in Bauchi three years ago stated that: “You may recall that on 1/03/2014 at about 23:30hrs one Zainab Mohd ‘F’ was attacked at Lukshi village in Dass LGA by three unknown men. She was raped and one of her eyes removed.
“Since then, the command embarked on aggressive manhunt of the suspects and it has yielded a positive result as all the three suspects were arrested and have confessed.
“They are as follows: Sabo Rabo, alias Bullet of Durr Katanga village; Bitrus Yakubu, alias Japan of Dado Village, Mohd Sani, alias Bamigboye of Durr Katanga village respectively.”
Speaking to journalists at the police command headquarters in Bauchi, the state capital, where they were paraded, the suspected ritualists who confessed to committing the crime said they were sent by one Usman Sambo, who promised to pay them the sum of N1million after delivering the eye to him, adding that they did not know what he wanted to use the eye for.
They claimed that it was greed that landed them in trouble and lamented that though they fulfilled their own part of the bargain, the alleged sponsor never gave them the promised money, instead he asked them to wait till when he used the eye his proposed ritual.
The eldest of the suspects, Bitrus Yakubu, had told journalists then that: “We were asked to do it. It was Galabi who sent us. We have never done this kind of thing before. He told us that if we get an eye, we should bring it and he would give us N1 million. We didn’t know what he would do with the eye.”
Asked whether they raped the woman or not, he admitted that he and Sabo Rabo raped her before Mohammed Sani plucked out her eye, adding that, “we raped her because of our own selfish interest because none of us has a wife. I got separated from my wife with who I had four children.
“We, however, seriously felt for her after we raped and removed her eye because of her condition, being a cripple. What pushed us into the whole thing was our greed because he (the sponsor) promised to give us N1million. We took the eye to him but he did not give us the money he promised, not even a kobo. He only told us that he would have to go and finish work with the eye first before he would give us the N1million.”
Rabo, on his part, subtly denied involvement in the matter but added that since he had been arrested by the authorities he had no other option than to accept it.
According to Rabo, “I was falsely accused of this but since I am in the hands of the authorities, I just have to accept. If I agree or not, I am already in their hands. This is a false accusation that God has destined that I will be involved in.”
He denied raping Zainab, who he said was from the same area with him, saying that no one had ever before accused him of either sleeping with any man’s wife or taking anybody’s property. He stated that he was an itinerant worker of no fixed address.
“I didn’t sleep with her, I didn’t carry any of her property but since I have been involved, I didn’t deny,” Rabo said, adding that, “I have not even seen a kobo of the money he (Yakubu) talked about.”
Sani, who was said to have removed the victim’s eye, stated that he did not take part in the rape, saying that he could not have done that since the victim was well known to him. According to him, Zainab came from the same place with his own mother. “Truly, I could not have raped her because there is friendship between us. Where my mother was born, there she was born too.”
He, however, admitted that the removal of the eye was an accidental act. “It is accidental because we have committed the act. The guy promised to give us N1 million. Truly, the guy did not give us a kobo.”
According to him, he was arrested by the police at a market where he had gone on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, four days after they committed the act.
“I did not know that the police are still investigating the crime when they got me and arrested me. I am not used to doing it,” he stated then.
The alleged sponsor, Sambo, who said he had three wives and seven children, on his part denied knowing anything about the crime, saying that he was a licensed herbal doctor.
To prove to the world that he was truly a herbal doctor, he showed a Nigeria Union of Herbal Medicine Practitioners identification card issued on the 18 March, 1999 to journalists present at the parade.
He further declared that he was only implicated by Yakubu, who he claimed had even confessed to him (Sambo) while they were together in police cell that he mentioned his (Sambo’s) name because of the suffering he was going through.
“I am a herbal doctor. I treat people with infertility problems. I have three wives and seven children. My identification card is even here (he showed the ID card) for you to verify that I am a licensed herbal doctor. I am here because of that old man (Yakubu). He came to me and said that since I am a herbal doctor, I should make a charm for him that would enable him to disappear and reappear.
“I told him that my knowledge had not reached that level of making such charm. It was later on that he told the police that I was the one who sent them but honestly, I did not send them to bring any eye to me,” he had told journalists.
But that was three years ago when they were all presumed innocent in the eyes of the law of the land.