Former International footballer, Haruna Babangida, has narrated how a Sharia Court sitting in Kaduna humiliated him by having his head shaved for no valid reason.
The former Barcelona star, who is a younger brother to former Nigerian Internationals – Tijjani and Ibrahim Babangida, said it was a land dispute that took him to Sharia Court 1 Magajin Gari, Kaduna, only to be locked up by the judge, with a directive that his head should be thoroughly shaved.
He said : “I live in Malali, but I grew up on Wushishi road, Magajin Gari area of Kaduna, where the incident happened. I had an issue with some people because I bought a land some seven years ago. I was in Europe so I sent the money to my brothers and they purchased the land, about four plots.
“When I came to Nigeria, I decided to see the location and on getting there, I noticed that the area had not been developed and I wondered why. I then decided to meet the people who sold the land to us and asked them why people were not building in the area, but they assured me that the area was okay and that I could start building anytime I was ready. I believed them and returned to Europe.
“When I came back a year later, the area was as I left it and so I got suspicious and asked them to return my money but by brothers persuaded me to hold on till someone indicates interest in buying the plots. So after about eight years, we were told that the state government had allocated the plots to new owners. On hearing that, we went to the people we bought the plots from to get our money back but they had disappeared and stopped answering our calls.
“I decided to report the matter to the police and they advised us to go to court. Prior to that, I had never been in court so I went with my brother to the court on Wushishi road Magajin Gari which is close to my family house. We were asked to pay N10, 000 for receipt and they asked me to come back after one week for the case. On that day, while we had just concluded our morning training, my brother reminded me that the case was coming up that morning and so we quickly headed to the court.
“I was wearing a football tracksuit from FC Barcelona and even though some cases had commenced at the court, mine had not been called yet, so I was asked to wait outside the courtroom. Some 10 minutes later, I was called and I went into the court and sat on a bench with three other people with my face mask on. I even asked if I should take off my face mask but I was told to leave it on. A few minutes later, I heard a voice ‘Ka tashi,’ (Get up), that was when I noticed he was referring to me and so I got up. He asked me if this was not a court, and I answered that it was a court. He just said, ‘arrest him, lock him and shave his head.’
“I thought he was joking, I was surprised and very calm, someone came and dragged me by my trousers like a criminal and while I was led away, I heard the judge insulting me, calling me unprintable names. I was taken to a police cell and after 40 minutes in the cell, I heard the voice of the same judge saying he didn’t care who I was and that nobody will tell him what to do.
“The judge later came to the cell and confirmed to me that someone told him who I was, but he was not bothered.
“I only listened to him without uttering a word and a few minutes later, four people came into the cell and told me that the barber was around on the orders of the judge to cut my hair, I didn’t say anything but it was obvious that they were sceptical about executing the orders.
“The judge further instructed them to cut my hair and at that instance, I asked the judge not to allow them to cut my hair, but he swore that my head must be shaved and so I allowed the barber do his job and my head was shaved. As a footballer, I have made several hairstyles but I have never shaved my hair the way they did it.
“The judge instructed that when they were through, they were to take me to his office and while at his office, he told me that he shaved my head because he felt it was the right thing to do. When he was done talking, I sought permission to speak and when he granted it, I asked him of my offence to warrant such humiliation but he did not answer me and just said he has dismissed the case. I accepted his dismissal but asked for a refund of the N10,000 I paid at the registry which I am yet to get.”
Asked on his petition to the Grand Khadi over the incident, Babangida said he was yet to get a feedback, even as he lamented the injustice done to him.
“He embarrassed me. I went to court to get justice from people who I believe defrauded me and instead of the judge to listen to my matter, he dismissed it and ordered for my arrest and that my head be shaved in front of the people I took to court. Everybody left and I was the one arrested instead of the real criminals.”