Friday, 15 December 2017

The Last Christmas: The Strange Case of A Kannywood Actress by Onigegewura - Part 2

Officers and men of Nigerian Police began their investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Auwalu. They left no stone unturned in their efforts to unravel the mystery of how a grown up adult could have suddenly disappeared on Christmas Day.

The DPO was a very diligent lady. She reviewed the report of the preliminary investigation. She saw some holes in the claims of the movie star. She therefore decided to visit the Dam to confirm or disprove the facts as narrated by Rabi Cecilia. On December 28, the DPO along with her officers and some relations of Auwalu went to Tiga Dam. Auwalu was nowhere to be found.

The police were however undaunted. They went to work. They spread out across Kano metropolis. Of course you know that komi ya ke chikkin dan kaza, shafu ya deddi da sanninshi. [There is no secret inside a chicken that the hawk does not know.] They soon located one Yahya Usman. He was the one that Rabi sold Auwalu’s television and VCD to for N8,000 and N4,000 respectively. They also found one Halima who bought Auwalu’s Nokia phone for N1,000. Finally the police found Adebayo Abdulkarim who she had given Auwalu’s car stereo and two speakers.

Confronted with these fresh facts, Rabi broke down in tears. She confessed that she had pushed the unfortunate young man into the river. The DPO and her officers again took her to Tiga. At the dam side, Rabi showed them the spot where she pushed the deceased into the water. The investigating police officers also saw coal and other traces of the fire she made on Christmas Day.

With these new revelations, the police began a detailed search of the water and the surrounding areas. Finally the search paid off. About a kilometre away from the point where he was pushed into the water,  Auwalu was found. 

Or rather, his body was found. It was in an advanced state of decomposition.

The police went back the following day with officers from the Fire Service and a medical doctor from Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital as well as members of Auwalu’s family. The body was brought out by Fire Service officers. Police photographers went to work. They took photographs of the body from different angles. In some of the shots, Rabi was seen pointing at her now deceased boyfriend.

With investigations completed, Rabi Ismail aka Rabi Cecilia, the movie superstar was arraigned before His Lordship Justice Haliru and charged with the offence of culpable homicide. When the charge was read to her, she was asked to make her plea. She responded: “I understand the charge. I am not guilty.”

The prosecution knew that the case was indeed a very difficult one. To secure a conviction, three things had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. It must be proved that Auwalu had died. It must also be proved that Auwalu’s death was caused by Rabi Ismail, alias Rabi Cecilia, the movie star. Finally, the prosecution must prove that the act or omission of Rabi which caused Auwalu’s death was intentional with knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was its probable consequence.

The challenge confronting the prosecution was the fact that there was no eyewitness account of Auwalu’s last hours on earth. The evidence was therefore circumstantial.

At the trial, the prosecution called 9 witnesses in support of its case. Umma Ibrahim, Auwalu’s sister, was the first witness. Ado Muhammad, the taxi driver was also called. Sergeant David Watsav, an investigator with CID, also testified for the prosecution. He was the officer that found the decomposing body in the water. Yahaya Usman who bought Auwalu’s properties from Rabi was also brought to court as witness for the prosecution.

I hope you recall that Rabi made two statements to the police. In the first, it was her case that one Ibrahim assisted her to carry Auwalu to an abandoned house. In the second, she admitted pushing Auwalu to the water.

At the trial, Rabi changed her previous statements. She was the only witness for herself. She called no other person to testify in her defence. According to her, when Ado, the taxi driver, dropped them at the Tiga Dam side and drove away in annoyance, she and Auwalu (who was now unconscious) decided to trek back to the main road.

She claimed that they came across a motorcyclist and pleaded with him to “carry them to the Highway but the cyclist insisted on carrying only one of them.” It was decided that the cyclist would take her first and come back for Auwalu. She claimed that when they got to the junction, the cyclist refused to go back to pick Auwalu. She had no choice but to proceed to Kano, leaving Auwalu to his fate.

The trial Judge, His Lordship Justice Haliru considered the evidence adduced by both the prosecution and the defence, as well as the address of their respective counsel. On December 5, 2004 – 20 days short of the second anniversary of Auwalu’s death – Justice Haliru found Rabi Ismail who was also known as Rabi Cecilia guilty of murder. She was therefore convicted accordingly. She was sentenced to death by hanging.

Immediately the judgment was pronounced, Rabi’s family members who were in court broke down in tears. Rabi herself was however unmoved. According to an eyewitness account, Rabi scolded her younger sister who was weeping profusely as she was being led away.

On January 17, 2005, Rabi appealed against the judgment of the High Court of Kano. The appeal was filed at the Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal. Amongst other grounds, she contested the judgment on the ground that the learned trial judge erred in law by holding that the case against her was not that of drugging but of drowning Auwalu.

At the appeal court, Rabi was represented by N. O. Ishola who led four other lawyers. Alhaji Aliyu Umar, the Attorney General of Kano State led S. B. Namallam, the DPP; Y. A. Adamu, the Assistant DPP; and M. B. Dan’azumi, a Senior State Counsel for the respondent.

Rabi’s counsel submitted powerfully that the trial judge made a new case for the prosecution when the facts adduced were against the weight of evidence at the trial. On the other hand, the Attorney General forcefully argued that all the learned trial judge  did was to analyse the evidence of the prosecution upon which it reached its conclusion.

The Court of Appeal listened to both the Appellant and the Respondent. In the lead judgment delivered by His Lordship Ba’aba, JCA, the appellate court held that: 

No cogent reason has been shown for me to interfere with the judgment of the learned trial judge who painstakingly reviewed the evidence adduced before him and in my opinion resolved the issues raised properly in accordance with the law. In the final analysis, I hold that there is no merit whatsoever in this appeal and I therefore dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.”

My Lords Honourable Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and John Inyang Okoro who sat with His Lordship also agreed with the lead judgment. The unanimous panel dismissed Rabi Ismail’s appeal. With the dismissal of her appeal, Rabi Cecilia moved a step closer to the gallows.

Off to the Supreme Court. At the apex Court, Rabi was represented by Tawo E. Tawo who led N. E. O. Ngele and Miss E. M. Igbokwe. Again, Alhaji Aliyu Umar, the Kano State Attorney General led a host of learned counsel from the State Ministry of Justice to appear for the Respondent.

The only issue the Supreme Court was called upon to resolve was whether from the totality of the evidence adduced, the prosecution had proved its case against Rabi beyond reasonable doubt.

At the end of the hearing, all the five Honourable Justices [Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, Francis Tabai, Ibrahim Muhammad, John Fabiyi and Bode Rhodes-Vivour] who heard the appeal affirmed the concurrent decisions of the two lower courts and dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.

That was the end of the case but not the end of the story. 

Following the dismissal of her appeal by the Supreme Court on July 8, 2011, Rabi Ismail (Prison Number K/22c) was moved from Kaduna Central Prison to Hadejia Prisons in Jigawa State to await her date with the hangman. It was at Hadejia Prisons that the unthinkable happened five months after her final appeal was dismissed.

On December 16, 2011, Rabi Ismail mysteriously disappeared from the prison! Some said she escaped, others agued that she disappeared. 

Her escape/disappearance was mysterious indeed. According to reports, Rabi did not break the prison walls; neither did she dig a tunnel out of the prison cells. She was there one day and the next day she was no longer there. Just like that! Yes, just like that! Her escape was discovered when a prison warden went round on the morning of December 16 for the usual roll call.

Prison authorities believed that the convicted murderer was aided by insiders. This was confirmed by the Jigawa State Comptroller of Prison who revealed that when he was told of her escape without breaking the wall or digging an underground tunnel, he concluded that the prisoner must have been aided internally.

According to the comptroller: “I just told the officer in charge of the prison that it is a clear inside plot because there was no way the actress could have escaped from Hadejia prison without the help of an insider.” The six prison wardens on duty when it was discovered that she went missing were immediately summoned for interrogation. 

It was assumed that she would soon be found on account of her being a famous figure as well as the notoriety of her case. The prison authorities were soon joined by sister law enforcement agencies in their manhunt (or womanhunt, if you like) for the escaped prisoner. They spread out their dragnet across the country.

Well, the first year rolled by without Rabi or her shadow being sighted anywhere. It was as if she had simply disappeared into thin air. The second and third years followed in quick succession. There was no Rabi Ismail anywhere in sight.

When the fourth year came to an end without any news about Rabi, it appeared that the sultry actress would never be found. Slowly, the fifth anniversary of her escape came and went. Her file continued to gather dust.

Would Rabi ever be found?

What Rabi however did not know was that Law and History have something in common. History and Law do not forget. A criminal will forever be haunted.

Finally in 2017, six years after her dramatic escape from Jigawa, the long arms of the law caught up with Rabi Ismail. She was captured by officers of the Department of State Security  while attempting to escape from the country. According to reports, the convicted murderer was caught along Lagos-Benin border. Her final destination was not known but it was certain that the road where she was caught was not the route to either Kano or Jigawa.

You want to know where Rabi is at the moment? Onigegewura knows but he won’t tell you...


And with that we have come to the end of our last story for 2017. And what a year it has been! 

Eni ti a se lore ti ko dupe, o da bi olósà ko ni leru lo ni [There is no distinction between an ingrate and an armed robber]. 

Many thanks to Becky Oduguwa, Titi Alimi, Olubunmi Taiwo and Reginald Udom. Becky and Titi edited the stories you read on the blog. I am eternally in their debt.  

Special thanks to Ibrahim Olatoye Lawal and Rafindadi Abdul Muhammad. They are both dependable and committed. I appreciate their support.

My heartfelt gratitude goes to Aare Afe Babalola, the Aare Bamofin of Yoruba Land.  I appreciate the privilege given to the boy from Ile-Ife to dine at the table of elders. Mo juba o!  

What of Mutiu Babalola Ganiyu [MBG], the man with the prodigious memory and extensive library [There is no day I speak with him that I don't learn something new. He is brilliance personified].

Professor Abiola Sanni is a practical definition of the word 'gentleman'. You don't expect anything less from someone from Ile-Ife. It is in the Yoruba constitution.

Anti mi, Princess Funmi Odunsi must be mentioned for her singular dedication to the cause of Onigegewura. 

If I have been able to see the world from a vantage point, it's because I have been privileged to stand on the shoulders of The Two Great Bosses, who shall remain nameless, at least for now [If you know them, Chatham House Rule applies].

I am very grateful to their Lordships, Distinguished Senior Advocates, Learned Professors, Gentlemen of the Bar, members of different Lawyers WhatsApp fora, the co-conspirators, and those who found out the identity of the Onigegewura by mistake. “You are the Onigegewura, the Raconteur!” I plead guilty as charged.

I appreciate Lanre Shasore of Quramo Books []  and Olaotan Oladitan of  Regal Flowers [] for their support and gifts. Thank you.

Yinni yinni ki eni se mii [Appreciation triggers more good deeds]. I appreciate the wonderful librarians across the country who allowed me unrestricted access to their archives. You deserve a gold medal. 

And of course, awon Kekere Omo Akin whose incessant questions and endless requests for bedtime stories gave birth to Onigegewura.

And to you, beloved members of Onigegewura Readers Club, I thank you all for your support. There is no Onigegewura without you. Thanks for your comments, for your likes, and for sharing our stories. Our combination has been terrific. I love you all.

Last but certainly not the least, Anti Wura, buroda Alani's third wife deserves to be mentioned - she started it all.

I wish you boundless goodness.  I am not ungrateful.

Ipade wa bi oyin. Ipade wa bi adùn. Ipade wa wooo bi ojó ro! [Our reunion will be as sweet as honey.]

 -Olanrewaju Onigegewura©
History Does Not Forget

The right of Olanrewaju Onigegewura© to be identified as the author of stories published on this blog has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright laws. 


  1. Wicked world. Thank you for the concluding part. Compliments of the season.

  2. Thank you so much sir for the wonderful sides to many past events that many including myself are not aware of. God bless you. Thank you for a wonderful 2017 looking forward to a more exciting 2018.

  3. Intriguing ... Thank you so much and I wish you good tidings this festive season Sir.

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  5. What an interesting, dramatic way to climax the year! It is said that if one is not interested in what happened before one was born then one will forever remain a child. By reading through your piece faithfully, I have grown with the age of history and seen my resolve to transform two of your stories into standard movie scripts strengthened. May your will be renewed from time to time, as we eagerly await to hear from you in 2018! See you then...Amen!

  6. All the thanks belongs to you sir. When i came across your blog, for the first time, a few months ago; i had to google and dig out all your past works. It has been an ever refreshing time reading your pieces....... I truly like and appreciate your delivery always. God bless you and continue to increase you in knowledge, amen. See you again in 2018! Cheers

  7. Great.
    A luminary historian shaping people's ideas

  8. Thank you Onigegewura, History certainly will not forget you!

  9. Thanks for keeping us up to date with history. Wishing you a prosperous Christmas and Happy new year in Advance. See you in 2018

  10. I thought you won't mention anti Wura but you did. You've made my 2017 to be worthwhile considering what I have gone through. Thank you so much. From the first story to the last, it has been like a sweet seasonal movie or rather like hot pounded yam ila alasepo from Ondo town.

    God bless you Onigegewura. May you continue to be a blessing. Till you are back in 2018, remain blessed.

  11. I thought you won't mention anti Wura but you did. You've made my 2017 to be worthwhile considering what I have gone through. Thank you so much. From the first story to the last, it has been like a sweet seasonal movie or rather like hot pounded yam with ila alasepo from Ondo town.

    God bless you Onigegewura. May you continue to be a blessing. Till you are back in 2018, remain blessed.

  12. Thanks a lot for your stories. Keep it up as we pray for more wisdom.
    But this story is not yet finished till Rabi is finished.

  13. Atore,atika, ikan ki i gbe (there is a reward for both good and evil deed). You are my man of the year-2017.

  14. Absolutely readable stories with freshness of prose. Once you start, you can't put down. Many cheers to Otunba Onigegewura and team. Compliment of the season. Fakas

  15. Onigegewura,thank you for a very historical 2017.I have learnt so much,i am even thinking of becoming a Lawyer.Every Story I read has impacted on me positively and I am grateful for that. If you had not mentioned anti WURA, in your vote of thanks,fight for start. May your imagination continue to enrich us. Thank you and a happy new year in advance.

  16. I thought i was reading James Hardley Chase. A master piece, i must confess!

  17. I thought i was reading James Hardley Chase. A master piece, i must confess.

  18. Thank you so much sir for the wonderful sides to many past events that many including myself are not aware of. May the good God continually bless you. Thank you for a wonderful 2017 looking forward to a more exciting 2018.

  19. What did Auwalu do to earn such a gruesome death? I reckon that he had ingested something that was meant to kill him abinitio. Going for a swim was only a decoy to make it look like an accident. Poor Auwalu. What a tragedy. Onigegewura has done it again. Wish Justice was served

  20. I don't want to know where she is. All I want to hear is that she has been hanged as ordered by the Court of competent jurisdiction.

  21. Will Love to know what Auwalu did to her, the story doesn't depict she was at anytime remorseful for what she did...

  22. Truth is stranger than fiction. But isn't motivation a primary line of investigation when a crime has been committed? What was Rabi's?

    As previously noted in a comment on another article, additional research will greatly enhance the wholesomeness of these stories. Perhaps a sequel that dives deeper and provides a sharper insight into the mystery of the human nature. Was she a druggie? Did she seduce her jailers? What fate befell the jailers?

    More ink to your pen, sir.