Nigerian police have freed as many as 67 boys and men from an Islamic school in the northern state of Katsina, CNN reports.
According to a police spokesperson, the rescued are victims of “inhumane and degrading treatments” in the school. The premises of the school was also supposed to be a rehabilitation centre.
The school was run by a 78-year-old cleric, Bello Mai Almajirai, in Daura which also happens to be the hometown of Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.
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Further reports indicate that over 300 boys were held in the building in Daura as of Monday, October 14.
According to police spokesperson Gambo Isa, authorities discovered the school when a few boys escaped on Sunday evening from the torture they underwent.
The victims are reported to have been “beaten”, “starved” and “sexually assaulted”.
Pressure is growing on President Buhari to take a firm stance against young people being educated in conservative Islamic schools known in the popular Hausa language as “makaranta”.
Muslim parents, in a bid to train their children in Islamic education, tend to enrol them in these schools.
Although most of these parents can have their children educated in both conventional Western-style schools and Islamic institutions of learning, it is common in Nigeria to have children attend solely the latter.
This is the second time in about a fortnight that children have been rescued from such an institution.
At the end of September, an alleged rehabilitation and learning facility in Kaduna, Nigeria, that housed over 300 male students was busted.
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.
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 rescued boys in Kaduna aged between 10 and 18.