By Bisi Lawrence
A randy young man from Kano abducts, kidnaps, or elopes (with) a damsel in Bayelsa, and the whole country is in confusion! Well, not the entire, but, at least, some people seem to be at a loss. Yes, some aspects of the matter appear to be odd—though not against the normal ethos of the country. Yes, it is only natural that one should be concerned, but there is a limit to everything though the itch dictates the scratch, and that is for the man itching to say; and the man, or woman, indeed said it loud this time.
Consider, if you please, the salient features. The chief actors are first, of course, the young blade from Kano. His name is Yunusa Dahiro Ado, popularly known and called “Yellow”. That nickname indicates that he is light-skinned and probably good-looking. He is a transport operator —or tricycle rider, if you please—and therefore a bit on the flamboyant side.
He is alone, single and ready to mingle—or “tangle”, even. And there he is, minding his own business when what butts into his life but this young girl from whose mother’s stall, or shop, he buys his daily meals. One thing leads to another and, before you know it, Yunusa knows that he must have her.
Her name, at the beginning, her name was Ese Oruru, a name which she has reclaimed later after her abduction or elopement(?) to Kano, for that is where she emerges with Yusuf after her disappearance from home. She was there transformed to Ayisa and made to become a Muslim. Apparently, Yunusa could not wait to cross the t’s and dot the I’s as demanded by the law and religious principles before a man and a woman begin to live together as husband and wife. In the case of Ese, the requirements are even more stringent since she is younger than the age prescribed for such an undertaking.
Ese was 13 going 14 when she found herself in Kano, whereas the stipulated age is 18. She herself has deposed that she is 17, but that is still one short of the prescribed age. So, here we are with an underage girl and a rampant Romeo all the way from across the country. And where is her mother, the food vendor, the mother of five children now short of one? All over the place, as you can imagine. Her first call, after ascertaining the facts, was of course the police —”your friend” when it pleases them to be so.
Mama Ese is distraught. I mean, we are talking about a child here. Eventually, Yunusa is traced and then the rigmarole really begins. The police are the experts here. Eventually, the buck stops on the desk of the Inspector-General of Police who throws up his hands and says there is nothing he could do without the orders of the Emir of Kano. Enter the Emir.
His Royal Highness had been observing a holy pilgrimage, known as “The Lesser Hajj” to Mecca to purify his mind and spirit from the problems of this worrisome world, only to come back into the mishmash of an abducted girl from another state, and another faith. He briefly admits that he had been informed about the matter and had ordered that the young girl be returned to her parents forthwith. He thereafter travelled out of the country without any further briefing on the issue. Let us stop here briefly, and wind back slowly.
What business had the Emir about a glaringly criminal case, anyway, when he is not in any way connected with the occurrence? In the olden days when the natural ruler was the sole Native Authority, he held an administrative position within the structure of the provincial government. But his involvement in judicial matters has since become very limited beyond the courtesies of tradition. His Highness paid attention and reacted appropriately and has no reason to apologise for anything to anyone.
The reference of the matter to him by the IG is mystifying. It falls even lower, and is much weaker, than a deliberate attempt to pass the buck. The entire affair is no more than a criminal incident that might ordinarily not have reached his ears at all. But the pussy-footing of the police raised the anxiety of Mama Ese when she apparently realised that she was faced with something bigger than she could handle. It seemed that the police were ready to frustrate the poor woman in the throes of her anxiety at the abduction of her daughter— her “darling” daughter, since she seemed lost. The hue and cry which gathered behind her with the aid of the press, definitely borrowed from that feeling.
The IG is said to have initiated an inquiry into the incident, and that should clarify some aspects that seem obscure at the moment—not least of all, when the IG himself first knew about it all. It is possible that Ese’s mother felt that the police were unwilling to find the child, and so she reached out!
Now we come to the leading female star, Ese, a young lady apparently of loose morals and an adventurous spirit. While the perception had been that she was abducted or kidnapped to Kano, she has distanced herself from all the problems her indecent and unruly behaviour has caused by deposing that “nobody has kidnapped me”. For that statement alone, she deserves “the six of the best” as my old teacher would say, across her bare bottom. Of course, I believe her.
She was in the game from the lighting of the candle. She is pregnant now, and definitely not by being a rape victim. She should be told that she is a shame to her mother and a disgrace to the entire family, which has been blessed through hard work and forbearance to be regarded as a decent family. In short, she has been a bad girl.
More power to all the home-grown psychologists who have been preaching a soft-landing for her, but someone should bring her to the monstrous dimensions of her misbehaviour, and the need to feel sorry and apologize for the problems she has helped to create.
And now, all hail Yunusa, the “Yellow”. Raised perhaps in the recesses of Birnin Kano, he might not have been fully aware of the gravity of his misdemeanour. But it is doubtful that the experience of traversing the distance between Bayelsa and Kano, and working as a tricycle operator in an urban area, would not have opened his eyes to the more acceptable aspects of behaviour among decent human beings. A girl who is not yet 18 cannot vote, obtain a driving licence or be married, with or without parental consent.
Even “bush” men know that in this country by now, so does a former state governor whose tenure pre-dates the era of immunity, out of which we are now crawling in the country. He too was made to understand that such a behaviour is unacceptable. In fact, Yusuf’s behaviour is slightly reminiscent of it. He is said to have been arrested and will be prosecuted. Ese has been returned to her mother. And a good time has been had by all.
The people of this nation have been able to show that not all our values have been swept away with the millions and trillions purloined from our treasury. We still have limits to our indifference to misdemeanour, and can still rise to be our neighbour’s keeper.
Finally, the Nigerian press. Someone once said it is humiliating to be praised for merely doing one’s duty; it would be as though one was not expected to live up to expectations. In expressing one’s appreciation for the role of the press in the Ese Oruru matter, care must be taken not to leave the impression that less was expected.
On the contrary, one would have been disappointed had less been done. What eventually turned out to be a co-operative effort, was inspired and piloted by The Punch. Not even the slightest professional envy could make anyone grudge that newspaper the pride of place in this incident. But that is how it should be if the press is to justify its place as “the fourth estate of the realm”. At the point where the press gets together to make a point, a mark is made.