An alleged rehabilitation and learning facility in Kaduna, Nigeria, housed over 300 male students under inhumane conditions for nearly three months.
Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told AFP the students were kept in “the most debasing and inhuman conditions in the name of teaching them the Koran and reforming them.”
Operating without a licence and no “formal training in behaviour modification” the proprietor, 39-year-old Ismaila Abubakar had run the school for close to 10 years.
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Ismaila, speaking to the police, said his school is an Islamic facility, though the police are yet to ascertain if it was used as a religious facility. The owner and six teachers were apprehended by the police during the raid.
The students, aged between 10 and 18, were rescued by the police in the Rigasa area of the city after a tip-off from concerned neighbours who had knowledge of the happenings at the facility.
Students were chained, hung and beaten in a “torture chamber” the police found during the raid. One victim, Bello Hamza, has granted interviews to some Nigerian news outlets and shared his gruelling experience, saying,
“I have spent three months here with chains on my legs. 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.”
According to the AFP, the alleged victim had scars on his back, and he added that he was meant to be in South Africa studying for his master’s degree.
Parents of the students took them to the facility willingly under the impression their children will be reformed and some disputed claims the victims were being held in the facility against their wish.
“Whether or not they were the ones who handed their children over, there is a 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,” Sabo said to Punch.
For some other parents who passed through the facility to visit their wards, they were not able to see them, making them oblivious to the plight of their children in the facility.
“They were not allowed into the house to see what was happening… the children are only brought to them outside to meet them,” Sabo said.
Sabo added that some of the children had been sexually assaulted in the all-boys school.
“They had scars and some marks of torture and violence on them. They were pleading they should be taken out of the place and they have been evacuated from that facility,” CNN reported.
Some of the students were from neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso and Mali and the police are working with other state authorities to reunite the victims with their families.