The Katsina State police command has sealed up a Muslim Almajirai “torture” centre located in Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown.
The development comes on the heels of a similar incident in Kaduna where the police uncovered what was reported to be a centre where children and adults were subjected to various levels of inhuman treatment in the guise of religion.
The Malam Bello Mai Almajirai Rehabilitation Centre located at the Nasarawa quarters of Daura came into the limelight last Sunday when the inmates dared the authorities by breaking out of the facility and took to the streets, protesting alleged “inhuman treatment.”
The Katsina State Police Commissioner, Sanusi Buba, who led reporters on a tour of the facility on Monday, confirmed that a number of the inmates were sodomised, tortured and treated like slaves and we have been able to ascertain that at least six of them had died as a result of the treatment meted out to them.
“The sodomy was carried out by those supposed to be training and correcting the youths and some of them escaped during the protest,” Buba said, adding that the proprietor of the facility had been arrested.
According to him, “this place, from preliminary investigations, belongs to Malam Bello. He has been a Koranic teacher for a very long time according to information gathered; that for close to 40 years, he has been around here.
“From here he graduated to the level of collecting children for the purpose of rehabilitating them – some of them underage while others of age were brought here by their parents supposedly for the purpose of rehabilitating them.
“Unfortunately, as you can see the place, small rooms of about six rooms, each to accommodate over 40 people with chains and subjected to all forms of dehumanisation unbecoming of any civilized rehabilitation centre.
“This Malam, I understand started well and gradually the centre degenerated into this unfortunate circumstance. Shabby looking accommodation, six rooms to accommodate over 300 people.
“The situation became so bad that they could not bear it and so they revolted on Sunday and started rioting and escaping from this facility.
“Our attention was brought to it and I expeditiously mobilised my policemen to come and seal off the facility, and 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.
“And in the course of confession, I was made to understand some of the teachers who were indulging in homosexual attitude with the victims escaped but we will definitely trace them.
“I understand that some of the cases were reported to the Malam while some, he may not even know the atrocities committed by some of his aides in the name of teaching these people some Koranic knowledge and trying to rehabilitate them from their bad ways.
“I was made to understand that he doesn’t even accept insane people. Sane people were brought here by their parents probably they are stubborn, (or have the) attitude of stealing, drug addicts, with the thinking that when they are brought here they will be reformed.
“Close to 200 escaped while about 60 of them are left behind.
“We are going to put heads together with the Emirate Council and the state government so that we can put in place machinery for ensuring that all these people are returned to their parents because this man does not have the capacity.
“First he is not registered. Two, he does not have the capacity to sustain the so-called kind of rehabilitation centre. There is no rehabilitation in this place.
“Their parents bring money, food items and what have you for their upkeep but these don’t reach them. They are being maltreated, manhandled, underfed, not medically taken care of in this most dehumanising situation.
“Almost all of them were chained. And they were being beaten. If you see their backs, you can see signs of torture, which is sad and very, very unfortunate.
“We are still going to continue to investigate and all these other aides of the Malam who are implicated in this dastardly act of homosexuality and other maltreatment will be traced and tracked down.
“So far, we have arrested the owner of the facility along with two other persons.”
Reacting to the report, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk Umar, said he was shocked that his domain was host to such a centre, in the name of rehabilitating certain individuals.
He urged the police to ensure that the facilitators faced the law.