“My husband was a kind and caring person, humble and generous.” Those were the words of Amina Aliyu, wife of late Aliyu Tijanni Abubakar, before she broke down in tears. They celebrated their second wedding anniversary in February, with a daughter who a little over a year old. Abubakar, 38, an indigene of Kaduna State, was killed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where he lived and worked in what appears to be a racist attack. He had attended and graduated from the International Alatoo University formerly known as Attaturk Alatoo University, a sister institution to Nile Turkish University, Abuja.
He remained in Bishkek and founded an ‘English As A Second Language’ school called Cambridge English School, where he lectured students of all ages how to speak English. But he was reportedly attacked and killed by a Kyrgyz citizen on July 2, 2019 at the Bishkek city center.
Abubakar had been in Kyrgyzstan for sixteen years. His sister, Nafisa Tijjani, said her brother went to Kyrgyzstan after secondary school, in 2003. “He did his university education there and graduated in 2007, but stayed back and established his school in 2009.” Abubakar, according to his younger brother, Abdurrahman who is also a student at the Alatoo University, was attacked following a taunting by a Kyrgyz local. The local followed him around, pointing, and taking pictures.
At first, Abubakar ignored him, and crossed the street in an attempt to get away, but the man followed. An altercation ensued, with the local striking Abubakar at the head, making him unconscious. From the videos provided Daily Trust Saturday, some locals came to Abubakar’s aid and poured water on him to revive him, but to no avail.
He was taken to the National Hospital in Bishkek but he died two days later. CCTV footage of his attack went viral on social media in Kyrgyzstan and this got the attention of the Kyrgyz Prime Minister’s office. The office immediately released a statement condemning the attack and offering to foot Abubakar’s medical expenses (Aliyu was still alive as at this time). The statement got the police into action as the murderer was arrested and jailed a day after Abubakar was hospitalized. He was buried according to Islamic rites on July 5, 2019 in Bishkek. On their last conversation, Amina said, “It was moments before he was murdered. We were on the phone, and he suddenly told me to hold on. I never heard from him again. All I got was the news of his death.”
Aliyu’s family, including his widow, appealed to the Nigerian government for justice. Commending the Kyrgyzstan government, Nafisa Tijjani, a sibling of the deceased, said: “We highly commend the efforts of the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan. Immediately the story circulated, and the PM saw it, he gave instructions that the perpetrator be apprehended as soon as possible. Within hours, the criminal was caught, and put behind bars.” Meanwhile, a journalist based in Kyrgyzstan, Nurjamal Djanibekova in an article confirmed that the racial angle of the attack is being discounted by the police as they appear inclined to accept the alleged attacker’s testimony, in which he said he was speaking with friends via a live group chat and the late Abubakar mistakenly believed he was filming him without his permission.
The suspect said Abubakar started insulting him, and later lashed out at him. The article stated that dark-skinned people living in Kyrgyzstan say they experience racial assaults regularly.