…Theses atrocities have brought shame to us—Emir of Daura
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.
“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.
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.