By Usama Abdullahi

Nothing could be scarier than seeing some people sympathising with the ruthless murderer of little Haneefa Abubakar. Anyone who does that does it out of unflinching apathy toward human’s life. Liu Jan, a Chinese billionaire businessman, was convicted of murder and executed in February 2015 simply because he ran a mafia-style gang. Likewise, one of his siblings and some other three associates were executed. 

If this could happen in a well-evolved, progressive and most populous country on earth, I wonder why it wouldn’t happen here in Nigeria. Does it mean Nigerians are the most softhearted people in the whole wide world? Of course, no. If issues of sympathy arise, I bet many Nigerians would bury themselves in shame because they are wont of barbarism.

Our hypocrisy knows no boundary and is second to none. It’s deep-rooted, and we seem not ready to change for the better. Innocent poor people are cruelly barbecued as chickens and kidnapped daily, yet the (un)repentant criminals are warmly received and mollycoddled. Their barbaric actions are overlooked. Unfortunately, those wounded and displaced to new unfavourable suburbs are left unaided.

It’s a grave sin to glorify or pardon criminals whenever they fake repentance. This is why our country breeds a generation of stubborn criminals and why insecurity thrives. Actually, we do no justice by neglecting the fact that those criminals are worthless and deserve to be tortured to death just as they did to our brothers and sisters.

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We escalate the precarious situations of our dear nation by being soft on criminals. No doubt that laws in this country are imposed upon the labouring classes or less privileged ones. If the needy steal to feed their bereaved or starved families, they are burned to ashes when caught by mobs who are thieves themselves. Those disadvantaged are primarily refugees and victims of bad governance. I’m not trying to justify their crimes either. No, I am not. 

But who do you think should be burned to ashes unhesitatingly? Yes, the real unsparing and often politically sponsored criminals, I suppose. It’s true that the so-called sympathisers neither mourn the slain nor denounce the slayers. On the contrary, they are quick to condone and gloat over innocent people’s death. One who sympathises with a criminal is either crueller or no different than the criminal himself.

By excusing barbarism, we are trying to eliminate these two words, “deterrence” and “justice”, from our constitution. If criminals are not punished accordingly, there’s no “deterrence”; many people will probably carry out their unlawful activities without fear. And if justice can’t be done too, then this society is lawless. Until Haneefa’s murderer, Abdulmalik, faces the death penalty, I will never forgive our judicial system.

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Usama Abdullahi wrote from Abuja, Nigeria. He can be reached at

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