By Umar Salam.
No fewer than 300 persons were rescued by the police after a raid on an Islamic centre at Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Thursday night.
According to the state police command, the freed captives, including children were found chained as some complained of homosexual abuse.
Some of the hostages lamented that they were tortured on a daily basis and forced to pray and recite the Holy Quran.
The police added that the victims were from Burkina Faso, Mali and other African countries.
“We received an information that something is going on in this rehabilitation centre or Islamic center. So, I sent my DPO here to check what was going on.
“On getting here, we discovered that, this is neither a rehabilitation centre or Islamic school. You can see it yourself that, small children, some of whom are brought from neighbouring African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and others and from across Nigeria. Most of them are even chained.
“These people are being used, dehumanized. You can see it yourself. The man who is operating this home claimed that, parents brought their children here for rehabilitation. But, from the look on 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. But first, we are evacuating all the people from this place to our station and we will make announcement for parents to come and recover their children”, the Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Ali Janga said.
The proprietor of the centre who was identified as “Mallam” denied allegations of torture and homosexuality while insisting that the centre only teaches Islam to its inmates.
He explained that the persons in chains were the stubborn ones who had attempted absconding.
“All those allegations of torture, dehumanisation and homosexuality are false. 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 to run away. Those who don’t attempt running away are not chained. Some were chained before and after settling down, they were freed.
“Most of them were brought by their parents from across the country and others from outside the country”, he said.
One of the victims, Bello Hamza narrated his ordeal in the centre.
He said: “I got admission to study Applied Mathematics, but here I am chained. They claim to be teaching us Quran and Islam but they do a lot of things here. They subject the younger ones to homosexuality.
“This is supposed to be an Islamic centre, but trying to run away from here attracts severe punishment; they tie people and hang them to the ceiling for that, but engaging in homosexuality attracts no punishment.
“Within my short stay here, somebody had died as a result of torture. Others have died before my coming due to poor health and torture. They give us very poor food and we only eat twice a day; 11:00am and 10:00pm.
“They have denied me a lot of things here. I am a family man, I have responsibilities, but I am chained here not knowing what is happening to my family members.”