When the police raided a compound in the Rigasa area of Kaduna, where a sign over the gate, topped with rolls of barbed wire, read: “Imam Ahmad Bun Hambal Centre for Islamic studies”, on Thursday, September 26, 2019, they found over 300 men and children in chains and agony.
Some shuffled with their ankles. Others were chained by their legs to large metal wheels just so they wouldn’t escape.
Others were hung upside down from the ceiling and beaten. Most of the rescued shared horrific tales of Sodomization and dehumanization in the compound’s torture chamber.
The hostages were chained and prevented from leaving the centre in Kaduna
One boy, held by the hand by a police officer as he walked unsteadily, had sores visible on his back that appeared consistent with injuries inflicted by a whip.
Some of the children had been brought from neighboring African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana, police said.
Some were Nigerians.
Police had been tipped off by complaints from local residents who became suspicious of what was happening inside the school.
‘Islamic rehabilitation center’
Some of the kids had been brought to the compound by their parents who believed they were dropping their wards off at an Islamic or Rehabilitation center.
“This place is neither a rehab nor an Islamic school because you can see it for yourselves,” Kaduna state’s police commissioner, Ali Janga, told reporters. “The children gathered here are from all over the country… some of them were even chained. They were used, dehumanized, you can see it yourself.”
The captives were tortured, starved and raped, according to sundry reports.
One of the rescued, Hassan Yusuf, said he had been sent to the school to change his lifestyle after he returned to Nigeria from a study period abroad.
“They said my lifestyle has changed – I’ve become a Christian, I’ve left the Islamic way of life,” said Yusuf.
Hassan Mohammed told Reuters that he is the uncle of three of the freed children.
Nigeria’s police chief Mohammed Adamu addresses the press after a meeting (Presidency)
Mohammed said the children had been sent to the school by their mother after their father died.
He added that he got suspicious of what was going on in the school after the family was denied access to the children.
“I begged, they said no, we can’t see these children until three months. When we went back home… we said the only thing now is we should report this issue to the police station. That is exactly what we did,” said Mohammed.
Arrests have been made
Kaduna police spokesperson, Yakubu Sabo, said seven teachers of the school have been arrested thus far.
“The state government is currently providing food to the children who are between the ages of five and above,” Sabo said.
Nasir El-Rufai is Governor of Kaduna State. His government would link the rescued with their families [Guardian]
It is unclear how long the children and men were kept in the compound. Some reports say the place has been running for ten years.
The rescued children have been moved to a temporary camp at the Kaduna stadium. From here, they would be moved to another camp in a suburb of the city while attempts are made to find their parents and have them reunited with their families, police said.