One of the over 300 people that were on Thursday freed by men of the Nigerian police in Kaduna from a house in Rigasa, a community in Igabi Local Government Area has said that he was brought to the house by his extended family who accused him of converting to Christianity, just because he spent 16 years in the UK and married to a Briton.
The police in a raid led by Commissioner of Police Ali Aji Janga, uncovered ‘inmates’ that were chained in a building called “Daru Imam Ahmad Bun Hambal” an Islamic school.
One of them, Hassan Yusuf, a PhD holder in Energy Economics, said: “I have been here for two years. I just found myself here one morning two years ago. My extended family accused me of converting to Christianity, just because I spent 16 years in the UK and married to a Briton.
“For them, they think they are helping me because, since I became a Christian, I am supposed to die. But bringing me here according to them is to deradicalise me instead of death.
“Now, I am diabetic, I can’t access drugs and all the foods they give us here are carbohydrate.”
Another inmate, Bello Hamza, 42, said he was tricked into the centre by his family. He claimed that his family members were interested in taking over his share of family inheritance.
He said: “I have spent three months here with chains on my legs. I’m supposed to be pursuing my Masters degree in the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I got admission to study Applied Mathematics, but here I am, chained.
“They claim to be teaching us Qur’an and Islam, but they do a lot of things here. They subject the younger ones to homosexuality.
“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, but engaging in homosexuality attracts no punishment.
”Within my short stay here, somebody had died from torture. Others have died before I came due to poor health and torture. They give us very poor diet and we only eat twice a day (11am and 10pm).
“They have denied me a lot of things here. I am a family man, I have responsibilities, but I am chained here not knowing what is happening to members of my family.
The police commissioner told reporters that the raid was triggered by a tip off.
CP Janga said: “We received information that something is going on in this rehabilitation centre or Islamic centre. So, I sent my DPO here to check what was going on. On getting here, we discovered that, this is neither a rehabilitation centre nor an Islamic school.
“You can see it for yourself that little children, some of who are brought from neighbouring African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and others and from across Nigeria. Most of them are even chained.
“These people are being used, dehumanised. You can see it for yourself. The man who is operating this home claimed that parents brought their children here for rehabilitation. But, from the look on things, this is not a rehabilitation centre. No reasonable parent will bring his children to this place.
“So, we are going to investigate them and get to the root of the matter. We will find out the real motive behind this centre, and if they are found wanting they will be charged to court.
“But first, we are evacuating all the people from this place to our station and we will make announcement for parents to come and recover their children.”
The proprietor, simply identified as Malam, said all they do in the centre “is to teach people Islam.”
He said: “All those allegations of torture, dehumanisation and homosexuality are false and mere allegations. We do nothing here other than teaching people Islam.
“They don’t do anything other than, recitation of Qur’an, pray and worship God. Those chained are the stubborn ones who attempt running away. Those who don’t attempt running away are not chained. Some were chained before and after settling down, they were freed.
”Most of them were brought by their parents from across the country and others from outside the country.”