President Muhammadu Buhari has told the Nigeria Police Force not to relent in its efforts to bust all illegal correctional centres in the country.
The President said his administration had zero tolerance for criminality and human rights abuse such as the enslavement of children in fake rehabilitation centres.
Buhari gave the order on Saturday just as the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, led operatives of the Kaduna State Police Command to raid a torture home, known as the Mallam Niga Rehabilitation Centre, at Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of the state.
At the centre, 147 captives – men, women and children – were rescued. The detainees comprised of 125 males and 22 females, among who four were foreigners from Cameroon and Niger republics. Most of them were found in chains.
Confirming the raid, the Kaduna Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Yakubu Sabo, said investigations would be conducted, stating that the captives had been taken into protective custody.
Sabo said, “The governor personally led the police to the ‘rehabilitation centre’ to find out what was happening. The centre claimed that it was certified to rehabilitate and train people in skills acquisition.
“The owner said the children were brought in by their parents to undergo rehabilitation as a result of drug abuse and mental illness. We will investigate and find out why the people were chained.
“During the raid, some of the inmates made certain allegations of maltreatment, including sexual molestation, particularly by the female inmates.”
The raid on Saturday took place less than a month after about 300 male children and adults were rescued from a torture home at the same area – Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The incident, which took place on September 26, 2019, saw the police arresting seven teachers of the centre, including its proprietor, Mallam Ismaila Abubakar, who insisted he did nothing wrong than teach the detainees Islam.
Some of the victims as young as five years old said they had been held captive for years. They said they were tortured, sexually abused and starved. Many of them, with visible injuries, had metal chains around their ankles.
The police had said some of the inmates were from Burkina Faso, Mali and other African countries, adding that the students confessed to being abused homosexually, while some inmates said they were subjected to the daily recitation of the Holy Quran and prayers with torture.
One of those who were saved by the police alleged that some of their fellow inmates had died.
Following the latest discovery of another torture home at Rigasa, President Buhari commended the police for busting what he described as fake correctional centres in Kaduna, as well as in Katsina and Kano states.
He told the police not relent in their efforts to bust all illegal correctional facilities across the country, describing them as human rights abuses by individuals and criminal groups.
Buhari’s reaction was contained in a statement by his Special Assistant (Media & Publicity), Mr Garba Shehu.
The statement partly read, “Reacting to the incidents and arrests, President Buhari notes that such arrests are in line with his commitment to human rights and dignity of the citizens, regardless of their age, religion and ethnicity.
“President Buhari will not support criminality under any guise, including the abduction of children and selling them off illegally. On torture chambers, in this day and age, no responsible democratic government would tolerate the existence of the torture chambers and physical abuses of inmates in the name of rehabilitation of the victims.
“The President, therefore, lauds the efforts of the police in exposing these human rights abuses by individuals and criminal groups and is optimistic that these efforts will be sustained to check illegal activities of this nature.”
Buhari appealed to the citizens to remain vigilant and assist the security agencies in crime prevention and control by reporting criminal activities in their communities.
Following the raid on another torture home at Rigasa on Saturday, the Kaduna police said they had arrested the centre’s owner, Dr Lawal Muduru, also known as Mallam Niga, to help with investigations.
In a statement, the police spokesperson, Sabo, said the state government had directed that the 147 rescued captives be evacuated to the Hajj Camp located at Mando Kaduna for proper profiling and safe custody.
The statement said, ”Muduru, aka Mallam Niga, is currently helping with investigations at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the command.
“The command is also investigating the authenticity and validity of the registration document the suspect claimed to possess.”
Sabo said the state Commissioner of Police, Ali Janga, was committed to fighting all forms of crime and criminality in the state without fear or favour.