By Yetunde Arebi
Read the first part here
On the Orurus and time factor
While much has been said about the quality of parenting Ese had with a mother who runs and bukateria and a father out of job, prior to her alleged abduction, I want to focus more on what they did after, though the two are interwoven and adds up to the total bizarre picture that is now working us all up into a frenzy. According to Ese’s mother, the unfortunate incident took place late night, 12th August, 2015 when the then 13 year old girl refused to return from a visit to a sick friend. While no one has identified the veracity of the story told by Ese to her parents, if indeed there was a sick friend or if it was only an excuse to get the exit, it still bothers me that a little child of Ese’s age could be let loose to go visiting a friend all by herself, unless it was on the same street. At what time of the day? After school hours when she ought to be busy with her home work or helping out in the shop?
There is no doubts in my mind that Mrs Oruru must have been distraught when she discovered Ese missing, but much as they claim that there is no relationship between Yunusa and Ese, we are told that it was in his direction that their search began. Why, if they suspected or knew nothing was brewing between them? If I may ask, how many young people confide in their parents about their crushes or boyfriends until they are ready for marriage? It is even taboo in African culture that parents will the pre-marital affairs of their children, especially the females. Ironically, mothers are always in the know and often guide such relationships from their husband’s knowledge. When things work out fine, they take the glory of grooming their daughters well at a proper wedding ceremony and when it fails, they return to the trenches to try their luck with another guy, yet again. Mrs. Oruru may therefore not get away with this instance.
But pray, what was the mother of an innocent, young girl doing about finding her missing daughter between 12th August and September when she finally made the trip to Kano? All sorts of excuses have been postulated by critics in support of the Orurus but my guess is that on ascertaining the whereabouts of her daughter and overwhelmed by anger, Mrs. Oruru might have initially decided to abandoned her to her fate, believing that when the true impact of her naive decision dawns on her, she will retrace her steps home. This sort of initial reaction is not unexpected when one has the misfortune of having to constantly whip a recalcitrant child to order. The Yorubas have a saying; “Omo yi ma pami, to ba ya, omo yi ma pa ra e ni o da” meaning that there is a limit one can protect disobedient children from themselves, eventually, they must learn from experience. Going after Ese, weeks after she left home with Yellow was an after- thought and probably on the prompting of family and friends.
As a mother, I am not convinced that Mrs Oruru did all she could to bring Ese back home on that first trip to Kano, more so, from reports that Ese who had been converted to Aisha refused her mother’s help at the time. I know many mothers who would not return home alive without their child, and I am one of them. While I must commend her for whatever stunt she pulled to get the attention and intervention of the Emir, she ought to have stayed behind to see things through and return home with Ese by all means possible. But she left Kano without her daughter and returned to the comfort of her home, business and other children. Nowhere in all the reports I have read has it that Ese’s mother returned to Kano after her September visit. Another two months will pass by before Ese’s father tried again in December. Here, the parable of the Sheppard and the lost sheep by Jesus Christ comes to mind. Jesus went ahead to draw an analogy between the Sheppard and the sheep, parents and their children and God and mankind. The import of the story runs very deep across religious divide, but Mrs. Oruru’s story does not seem to reflect this. It does not also tally with the picture the family is now striving so hard to paint of themselves and Ese now that the story has become public property. The excuse of financial, educational or social status does not wash with me.
Same, goes for the school teacher, Mrs. Arise Douye, who though claimed Ese was a brilliant student, she neither knew her parents, where they lived or her whereabouts until the story went public. This teacher whose very brilliant student did not only stop coming to school, but even failed to sit for an important examination did not bother to make enquiries into her disappearance. This is not the picture of teachers and indeed, schools that many of us know. Brilliant and well mannered students are assets to any school and such schools often make great efforts to keep them, including offering scholarships and free extra tutorials. Still, Ese might be intelligent or brilliant in her studies, but this has nothing to do with her character, behaviour or attitude. For me, the much publicised photograph of Ese, before the alleged abduction says it all and I ask, how many of our 13 year old daughters spot such looks, Crinkled hair, sexy make-up et al? It is very clear to my mind and any rational mind at that; that there is a concerted effort to rewrite the script of what actually began unfolding long before 12th August, 2015, for reasons best known to those behind the whole saga, but which has only regurgitated our disgusting display of hypocrisy and loathing of one another. Must we always stand facts on its head just so we score cheap points that will not do anyone, especially our nation, any good?
Also worth mentioning is the role of the NGOs who waded in and helped in restoring Ese to her family. While one must recognise and commend their effort; my question still, is, why did this rescue mission take between December and February to happen? Reports say that Khan Initiative, the NGO that intervened, got wind of the story in December and began the “exercise” of setting her free. Why should there be an “exercise” again to set her free after the Police in Kano had been notified and the Emir had declared Dahiru’s action illegal (even under the Sharia laws) and had ordered that Ese be reunited with her family? The noise that began late February ought to have started as early as December if you ask me. If the Orurus had no knowledge of the importance and power of the media between August and December, same is not true for NGOs that thrive on publicity. The excuse of protecting her identity as a minor does not hold since it was eventually not adhered to. All these noise would have made significant impact back in September when Mrs. Oruru first went to Kano, and not now that the girl has been permanent traumatised, stigmatised and damaged. But still, there is reason to be thankful.
There is no doubt that there is a silent rivalry and aggressive competition going on between the NGOs and the reasons are obvious to social critics. The more successful interventions recorded, the more popular your NGO and the more grants and funds you are exposed to accessing. All the better if they are high profile cases such as this. While many of our NGOs have come to the realisation that they cannot handle all cases single handed and must align with others to achieve timely interventions, a lot still depend on their own strength and strategies. It is better to collaborate and achieve something great than fly solo and lose something great. This way, its a win-win for everyone.
On Yunusu, the law and the people’s court
There is no doubt that Yunusa Dahiru has erred because the law stipulates so in very clear terms. A young man of 25 years is no baby and by law must be treated as an adult. Bearing in mind that his actions had also earlier been condemned by his Emir and the Sharia court had been ordered to return Ese to her mother, the issue of religion or demography might also not hold water here. So also, a lack of formal education and knowledge of the Nigerian constitution and Child’s Right laws may not be acceptable as ignorance is not a tenable excuse for doing wrong. But would the story be different, were Yunusa, with the same background, been an under-aged boy? Would it be different if, Yunusa, with the same background, carried on with Ese in Bayelsa under the watch of her parents? Or would it have generated same reaction had Yunusa been a Southern Christian? Ese will get away with all her atrocities because she is a minor. Yunusa may not be so lucky because he is an adult.
The law must take its course. The course of the law is not however straight and narrow. In law, two and two does not always add up to four, so far as lawyers from both sides can argue their cases convincingly without an iota of doubt, against the presentation of the prosecutors. All facts and evidences must be examined without any of the sentiments and emotional masturbation that the public has been subjecting this story to. For, we are not likely to know the whole truth until a proper and thorough investigation in carried out. The Police must cease this opportunity to carry out its duty with fear, favour, sentiments or playing to the gallery, so that whichever way it goes, justice will not be allowed to stand on its head.
An important lesson from this case is a confirmation that young people learn from what they see and not necessarily what they are told. Children are the future leaders of any nation and the seeds we sew in them will determine not only their future but that of the nation too. As individuals and a people therefore, we must reposition ourselves to save our nation from a deep rooted hypocrisy and double standards than can only destroy us. The future has crept in on us and everyone has been found wanting. If Yunusa was told by his father that he was treading on dangerous grounds, same with the Emir, he was definitely not convinced as he knew of similar cases all around him with no one reprimanding them for their actions. What Yunusa probably did not understand however, was that he lacked the social and financial status and the power to pull off such an immoral stunt and get away with it. Paedophilia in Nigeria is a game for the “big boys” only!