…Theses atrocities have brought shame to us—Emir of Daura
…We’ll not tolerate these atrocities——Police Commissioner vows
By Bashir Bello
Daura is the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari. It runs two rehabilitation centres; one by the state government and the other by a 78-year-old islamic cleric.
And judging by the tales of the inmates on the conditions in the two centres, one can safely describe one as living in hell and the other as having a taste of heaven.
The centre run by the cleric, popularly known as “Malam Bello Mai Almajiri rehabilitation centre”and named after the owner, 78-year-old Malam Bello Abdullahi, was situated in Sabon Garin Daura, Nassarawa quarters in Daura local government area, Katsina State and was said to have been operating for more than 40 years.
Before the police stormed the centre to rescue the inmates following the atrocities being perpetrated there, the facility had accommodated more than 300 persons who were brought in by their parents and guardians from various states across the country and neighbouring countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Niger Republic and Cameroon for rehabilitation and to acquire islamic principles. The centre however turned out to be a dungeon where the victims were subjected to all kinds of dehumanisation.
Torture was the order of the day—Victim
In the words of one of the former inmates, Hassan Adamu who escaped from the facility before he instigated a revolt that drew the police to the centre, “torture was the order of the day in the facility. When I was brought there, for about two weeks, I was beaten 30 times in a day – 10 times in the morning, 10 times in the afternoon and 10 times in the night.
After that I also did frog jump 30 times daily- 10 times in the morning, 10 times in the afternoon and 10 times in the night. And I did that with chains on my hands and legs. If I wanted to sleep, they would chain my hand to the back and would untie it in the morning. Adamu said he spent one year and two weeks in the facility but he never witnessed any significant transformation in his behavior. He categorically said no form of rehabilitation was going on in the centre except torture, sodomy and maltreatment.
According to him, “I spent one year and two weeks in the facility. There were a lot of things happening there that if we had spoken out no one would believe us except people entered to see things for themselves. And since it has come to the limelight, we have to say all what we know about the facility.
“In the centre we had shortage of food, we were overcrowded in a room, about 35 or more people were in a small room. If we were pressed at night, we had nylons or leathers given to us where we would defecate and if there was anybody awake outside, we would hand it over to them to help us dispose it in the waste bin. But we were unlucky that nobody was outside, we would have to hide the human waste inside our belongings.
“We were also given containers for urine. We would urinate inside the container and anyone who did not have one would urinate in his food container. In the morning he would pour away the urine and the same container would be used to serve him with pap “koko”. Sometimes, they would say they would say they excused us from our daily prayers when there was no water to perform ablution. The food was tasteless.
“For you to get special treatment like getting everything with ease, water to bath and so on, you have to agree to sodomy. It happened in my presence many times. But when I was in the facility I resisted it.
“I’m an indigene of Daura and it wasn’t up to five months that I came out of the centre.
How I instigated the revolt
“When I got back home I told my people about my ill treatment and many people knew about it but our parents found it difficult to believe. Already, I have written a report I want to make public about the atrocities that were perpetrated in that house. When I came out, I tried to assist some of the inmates who wanted to escape from there.
So, I got some people to stage a protest in front of the house until it attracted the attention of the police who came to the area. The operators of the facility asked the police to arrest us, so I told the police what happened. Later, the DPO came there and we asked him to go into the building alone and see for himself what was going on in the facility. And that if he saw anything contrary to what we told them or if we lied against the operators of the center, we should be arrested.
He went in and confirmed what we told him to be true.
“The son of the proprietor of the facility was the one running the facility, the proprietor didn’t know what was going on. He only came there three times within the one year and two weeks that I spent there, his son, Umar would not allow him to come into the facility. Even when he entered and wanted to find out if we had any problem with food and medicare, they would not allow us to tell him anything that was going wrong in the facility”, Adamu narrated.
It was a sigh of relief for the over 300 inmates as they were rescued by the police from the centre where they were subjected to all kinds of dehumanization. They took turns to narrate their harrowing experiences.
Our teachers subjected me to homosexuality —victim
One of the victims said their teacher and others whose names he mentioned subjected him to homosexuality. Another victim, Fahad Jubrilla Mubi who was brought from Adamawa State said six people died in his presence while other two developed mental problem due to the unbearable conditions in the facility. “I have spent two years here. I was brought from Adamawa state for drug addiction and wayward behavior. Some had spent eight years, some five years, three years and also one year. We went through hell in this facility.
We were abused, we were starved. When we fell sick, they would not give us any medication. Six people died in my presence due to the unbearable conditions. Two other people also developed mental problem here. We were tired of the atrocities and so we revolted and protested which led to over 200 inmates escaping while about 67 of us were left behind,” Jubrilla said.
We’ll not tolerate these atrocities —Police Commissioner vows
Speaking while inspecting the rehab center, the Katsina State Commissioner of Police, CP Sanusi Buba confirmed that sixty-seven of the inmates were found in the facility shackled with chains and vowed that the police would not fold its arms and watch dastardly acts being perpetrated. The police boss said his men had evacuated the victims for treatment while efforts were ongoing to reunite them with their respective families.
He said the facility was being operated without registration and that it lacked the capacity to sustain that kind of rehabilitation center particularly as the victims were subjected to all forms of dehumanization, being chained, tortured, and forced to practice homosexuality.
The Police Commissioner however warned parents to desist from taking their children to illegal and unauthorized rehabilitation center.
According to him, “based on a tip off, the command on October 12 2019 at about 10:09hrs succeeded in bursting an illegal detention/remand home being operated by one Malam Bello Abdullahi Umar, 78-years, of Sabon Garin Daura, Daura LGA of Katsina State. In the course of investigation, sixty seven persons from the ages of 7 to 40 years were found shackled with chains. Victims were found to have been subjected to various inhuman and degrading treatment. Malam Bello has been a Quranic teacher for a very long time according to information gathered that for close to 40 years, he has been around here. He then graduated to the level of collecting children from parents for the purpose of rehabilitating them.
This Malam, I understand started well but gradually the center degenerated into this unfortunate circumstance. Maybe because of old age or for whatever reason, he left the facility in the hands of his son who was running the facility anyhow he liked. The operators tortured the inmates, sodomized them and subjected them to frog jump.
“The accommodation was shabby, six rooms were used to accommodate over 300 people, with each room having over 40 people who were chained and tortured. And in the course of confession, I was made to understand that some of the teachers who indulged in homosexuality with the victims escaped but we will definitely trace them. I understand that some of the cases were reported to the Malam while he may not even know the atrocities committed by some of his aides in the name of teaching these people Quranic knowledge and trying to rehabilitate them.
“I thought only lunatics were brought here for treatment but I learnt that he didn’t even accept insane people. Parents probably brought their unruly children, who were drug addicts or were stealing believing that they would be reformed and most times, the parents were not even allowed to see the condition of their children.
“Their parents brought money, food items and other things for their upkeep but these items did not get to the children. The complaint by the children was that they were being maltreated, under fed, not medically taken care of.
“The situation became so bad that they could no longer bear it and so they revolted yesterday (Sunday) and started rioting and escaping from the facility. Our attention was brought to it and I expeditiously mobilized my policemen to come and seal off the facility. I also directed the AC CID to come and get the details and effect the arrest of the owners of the facility including Malam Bello himself who is the leader. Close to 200 of the inmates escaped while about 60 of them were left behind.
“We are going to put heads together with the Emirate council and the state government so that we can put in place measures of ensuring that all these victims are reunited with their parents. This man was not registered, he does not have the capacity to sustain this kind of rehabilitation center. There is no rehabilitation in this place. Almost all of them were chained aAnd they were being beaten. If you look at their backs, you would see signs of torture, which is sad and very unfortunate.
“We are still going to continue to investigate and all other aides of the Malam who were implicated in this dastardly act of homosexuality and other maltreatment will be tracked down. So far, we have arrested the owner of the facility, and two others,” CP Buba said.
The owner of the facility, Malam Bello Abdullahi, two of his aides identified as Habibu Bello and Abba Abubakar have been arraigned by the police before a Magistrate court where they were remanded in prison custody till October 22nd, this year.
Malam Bello’s son, Umar, who ran the center, and two others were said to be on the run as the police launched manhunt to arrest them.
We’re scandalised — Emir
Reacting to the development after being briefed by the Police Commissioner who visited his palace, the Emir of Daura, Dr Umar Farooq Umar expressed shock that the dastardly act was happening in his domain. Emir Umar told the Commissioner of Police to ensure that the culprits were brought to book.
The Emir said the incident has brought bad image and shame to the people of Daura particularly President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I am saddened about this development because of the dent on the image of Daura and its people by the atrocity perpetrated by son of the soil and even at home. I am sure President Buhari is saddened by this development in his heart.
“We have never dreamt of this kind of atrocity happening in Daura. I respected him (Malam Bello) to the point that when he came here I would give him handshake but this is how he has paid us back in Daura. The law must take its course. Even if it were my biological son who did this and he was brought to me I can shoot him. This development has dented the image of any Daura indigene and brought shame to us because of the atrocities committed by this man highly respected among my Imams in Daura. God will judge. Let justice prevail,” the Emir said.
Saturday Vanguard observed that there were about two to three other Islamiyya schools on the same street where the rehabilitation center was situated. As for some of the residents who were aware of atrocities going on in the facilities, it was a breath of fresh air as they jubilated over the sealing off of the facility by the police.
A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “the facility was run like a prison as it was out of bound for all, not even parents of the victims were allowed to see their wards once they were taken into the place.” Those who were not aware of the atrocities going on in the place equally expressed shock.
A different rehab centre where inmates enjoy
Meanwhile, still in Daura and a stone throw to Malam Bello Mai Almajiri center is situated a multi-million naira project, called “Reformatory center” established by the Katsina state government. It is a well equipped and functional facility that can accommodate 120 inmates.
Saturday Vanguard was conducted round the various sections- the hostel, hospital facility, dinning area, the kitchen, Computer section and their various workshops for tailoring, carpentry, metal, welding and leather works where some of the works of the inmates such as shoes and uniforms made by the inmates were displayed. Inmates here were given the best treatment and so they were doing fine
The Principal of the centre, Fatima Muhammad said currently, 33 inmates were enrolled in the center, and they were all males while the females have their center in Funtua.
A social worker in the facility, Lawal Mamman said ignorance on the part of the parents was responsible for why parents took their unruly children to Malam Bello Abdullahi’s illegal rehabilitation center.
Mamman however said the facility established by the state government could not admit more than 70 inmates at the moment due to the available provision for the inmates who were served three square meal per day. He also said the centre was short of manpower to run the facility as it has three warders who run the morning, afternoon and night shifts saying it needed between 11 and 13 warders to effectively run the facility.
According to him, “when a child is brought here we don’t chain or handcuffed him. He is kept in isolation room where he will be engaged in counseling, holy worship and feeding. Only those who tended to be violent were the ones we would apply leg arrow for pending when he would regain normalcy. Government provides three square meals for them.
“They are then brought out of the isolation and taken to their hostels with beds and wardrobes. From there we take them to the school section. In the school section, there are vocational units which comprise of tailoring, leather works, carpentry, metal and welding while computer is made compulsory for them. Again, we conduct interview to carefully select vocation for them to avoid their going back to the past behaviour. Take for instance, one who was a drug addict, we would not select leather work for him because he would be working with gum and solution and he might be tempted to abuse it.
“We have three of this kind of reformatory center in Katsina State with one in each of the three senatorial zones. The Katsina senatorial zone centre was constructed by the then late Governor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, but was commissioned by the immediate past Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema. And for Daura center, Governor Aminu Bello equipped it and it took off smoothly this January. It is a 120 inmate capacity but at the moment we cannot take more than 70 to ensure that they feed well because if you want to reform someone to come back to his normal senses you have to feed him well.
“We also have shortage of manpower to run the facility as currently we have only three warders who run the morning, afternoon and night shifts. We need about 11 to 13 warders to effectively run the facility,” Mamman said.
We are treated well here even more than in our homes —inmate
An inmate who have spent six months in the facility, Shamsu Idris, 18 years, who was brought by his parents for drug addiction said the preferential treatment and care they get in the facility, some of them don’t get it back in their homes. Idris said he was far better than when he was brought to the center as his parents also attested when they visited to see him in the facility.
“I have spent six months in the facility. My life has witnessed transformation from what I used to do in the past. I have realized the truth and that what I did in the past was the handiwork of the devil. My parents were not happy with what I did in the past and so they brought me here. But when they visited me, they were happy to see me transformed and of good behaviour now. They were very happy.
“We are well taken care of here. We enjoyed preferential treatment and care that some of us don’t get back in our homes. I enrolled into Metal and welder work and I am learning fast,” Idris said.