There was drama in front of the Ahmad Bn Hambal Islamiyya School in
Rigasa, Igaba Local Government of Kaduna State when parents of the
over 300 children evacuated by police called for the release of their
children from police custody, saying they see no reason why the police
should take their wards away from the school.
The police had on Thursday, raided the school, and took with them over
300 children in 15 Danfo buses to the Kaduna Police Command
Police authorities alleged that the children were said to have been
placed in dehumanizing conditions, cramped in rooms, with some of them
in chains while others had big scars and injuries on their bodies
which must have been as a result of torture. There were also
allegations of sexual abuse.
Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, CP Ali Aji Janga, while briefing
journalists after the raid, said they acted based on information that
something is going on at the rehabilitation centre.
He said, “So, I sent my DPO here to check what was going on. On
getting here, we discovered that this is neither a rehabilitation
centre nor an Islamic school. You can see it yourself that they are
small children, some of whom are brought from neighbouring African
countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and others and from across Nigeria.
Most of them were even chained.
“The man operating this home claimed that parents brought their
children here for rehabilitation. But, from the look of things, this
is not a rehabilitation centre. No reasonable parent will bring his
children to this place.
“So, we are going to investigate them and get to the root of the
matter. We will find out the real motive behind this centre, and if
they are found wanting they will be charged to court.”
The proprietor of the centre, Malam Ismaila, had however refuted the
allegations, saying all they do in the centre is to teach Islam.
He said, “All those allegations of torture, dehumanization, and
homosexuality are false and mere allegations. We do nothing here other
than teaching people Islam.
“They don’t do anything other than recitation of Qur’an, pray and
worship God. Those chained are the stubborn ones who attempted running
away. Those who don’t attempt running away are not chained. Some were
chained before and after settling down, they were freed.”
On hearing about the raid on Friday, parents of the children stormed
the school premises and demanded the release of the children from
police custody. The school was however shut down.
Daily Trust reports that students, including the mature men among
them, were mostly drug addicts and children whose parents took to the
school for rehabilitation and also to acquire quranic knowledge.
One of the women, Shafa’atu Zakari, said she has six children in the
school who were drug addicts and were uncontrollable, which was why
she took them to the school to acquire Qu’ranic knowledge.
“We brought the children to the school because we don’t know what to
do with them. Presently, four of my children are among the children
evacuated by the police. We demand their release because the founder
of the school is doing everything possible within Islamic teaching to
rehabilitate them for us,” she said.
Maman Jibril, whose son Jibril has been in the school for six years,
said, “The boy became a threat to us (his parents) so we took him to
the Islamiyya school for rehabilitation and to God be the glory he has
changed. I visit him from time to time and I have never seen anything
wrong going on in the school.”
Ahmed Balarabe, who lives close to the school, denied the allegations
of sexual abuse on the children as alleged by the police.
He said, “I share a fence with the school and my two sons attended the
same school before their graduation, and they never told me anything
of such. Being a neighbor, who also has access to the school, I should
know if such a thing is happening there,” he said.
One of the directors of the school, Malam Mohammed Auwal El’Zubair,
also denied all allegations made by the police, saying all the
children were brought with the consent of their parents.
On Friday morning, the children were taken to the Ranchers Bees
Stadium where they were kept to be handed over to the appropriate
agency in charge of children’s welfare.