Some freed children in Kaduna Arabic school came from Ghana, Mali, B/Faso
•Buhari condemns abuse of the children •Police arrest seven suspects, hand over children to Kaduna govt
More revelations have emerged on the case of over 300 children allegedly held in a slave camp in Kaduna where they were said to have been subjected to different forms of inhuman treatment.
This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the abuse of the children in the supposed ‘reformation institution.’
Sunday Tribune learnt that a large number of the children, regarded as almajiris, may have been brought in from neigbouring countries of Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and others.
Authorities, on Saturday, scrambled to find the families of hundreds of them, including men and boys, freed from a supposed school where some of them had been kept in chains, sexually abused and tortured.
It was later discovered that some of the children were from those neigbouring countries.
According to a report by Reuters, police freed as many as 400 captives, aged from six to 50, from the house in Kaduna State in a raid on Thursday. Some were reportedly chained to radiators, tyre rims or hub caps and others bore visible signs of scars from whippings and beatings.
Reuters said more than a dozen, including 10 children, were hospitalised on Saturday. All the adults were in critical condition, with one vomiting blood.
Police set up a makeshift camp for the others at the edge of the city and were trying to register the freed captives. In one of the buildings at the camp, children queued to register their names against a list, later laughing and playing before being served a plate of noodles.
“Outside, dozens of parents, faces contorted with worry, gathered to collect their children. Some had paid tuition fees to the men running the house, believing it to be an Islamic school, while others viewed it as a correctional facility with no expectation of instruction,” the agency said.
It was reported that some of the children had been tortured, starved and sexually abused.
However, according to Reuters, the state Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hafsat Mohammed Baba, said a headcount had accounted for only 190 people, including 113 adults and 77 children. The reason for the discrepancy in numbers was not immediately clear, but authorities said some of those freed from the home fled immediately.
Sunday Tribune gathered that police raided the school after a relative was denied access to the captives. In the wake of the police raid, seven people, who said they were teachers at the school, were arrested.
The news agency reported that the Nigeria Police had called on families from across the region, from the suburbs of Kaduna to the nearby countries of Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, to collect the freed captives.
But despite the reports of abuse, some were reluctant to return home with their family members.
It reported that one Mohammed Sani Abu Sha’aban, a father of 13, from the Kaduna suburb of Nasarawa, sent two of his sons – 16-year-old Salim and 25-year-old Jamilu – to the ‘school’ for more than three years.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, the state Police Command said it had handed over 300 inmates of the “rehabilitation centre at Rigasa, rescued on Thursday” to the state government.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, Yakubu Sabo, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the over 300 inmates were handed over to the state government on Friday for reunion with their families, adding that seven suspects earlier arrested were undergoing investigations.
Sabo said the “dehumanising treatment” they discovered made it impossible to consider the house an Islamic school.
He defended the police raid on the centre, saying it was based on reports of torture and abuse, and not whether or not the inmates were willingly taken there by their parents.
“Whether or not they were the ones who handed their children over, there is limitation to what can be done to human beings, even by parents. According to law, even if it is the father that subjected his child to inhuman treatment, there is a level where he will be held liable for his action.
“Nobody is questioning whether the parents took their children there. What we are saying is that inhuman treatment is meted out to those children in violation of the law.
“The school in question has no license to operate as well. The agencies of government that are supposed to supervise them are not put into consideration. As far as we know, they have not tendered any document to show that they are licensed.
“The school is concurrently running both educational and correctional programmes which are supposed to be different institutions with different licenses. If you have license to give correctional programme, that in itself does not give you order to do educational programme.
“Even if you are licensed, it does not give you the right to go ahead without having the required manpower and skills to carry out the programme. All these are not there,” Sabo said.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, President Buhari said he condemned all forms of rights abuses, whether of adults or children.
Commending the efforts of the police for the discovery and subsequent arrest of operators of the camp, the president said all children ought to be safeguarded and protected from all evil influences in the society.
“In commending the police for their discovery of this horrific hub and arrest of suspected operators of the unedifying, so-called ‘reform institution,’ the administration of President Buhari categorically condemns rights abuses, whether of adults or of children,” the statement read in part.
“We are glad that Muslim authorities have dismissed the notion of the embarrassing and horrifying spectacle as Islamic school. The place has, indeed, been described as a house of torture and a place of human slavery.
“The president holds the view that children will be safeguarded from roaming the streets and protected from all evil influences that assail idle hands and idle minds, when they are sent to school,” the statement read.