Around 70 men and boys were freed from a religious “school” run by a Muslim cleric in Nigeria, where they were treated like “animals.” The raid occurred less than a month after 300 others were rescued from similarly “dehumanizing conditions” at an Islamic school in another city.
The “inhumane and degrading” treatment of the individuals, who ranged in age from 7 to 40 years old, was reportedly uncovered by police following protests of the “students” (a.k.a. prisoners). There were also allegations of sexual abuse.
The religious school, which also served as a rehabilitation center, was run by a 78-year-old Muslim cleric in Daura, the birthplace of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Authorities visited the school on Monday, a day after students protested about their welfare, tipping off the police about the conditions in the facility, Katsina police state spokesman Isah Gambo told CNN.
The pupils, whose ages range from 7 to 40, said they were denied food for days and beaten with chains by the teachers in the school, Gambo said.
Others also said they had been molested and sexually abused during their stay at the school, he said.
Authorities say the boys were beaten nearly every single day, and that after they were rescued, many of them still had markings from a cane on their bodies. The school owner and two teachers have been arrested for their roles in the abuse.
This school system is unfortunately popular in Nigeria, where a strong secular education can be difficult to obtain. This was not the first time police had to rescue kids like this, and unfortunately, it may not be the last.
In this case, which some news reports say involved more than 70 victim-students, at least one of them has spoken out forcefully against it. Rabiu Umar, one of those rescued, said he was “treated like an animal” at the religious boarding facility, according to the BBC.
“Every day they would give me 30 lashes, 10 in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, and 10 in the night. I was tortured, I was deprived, I was beaten, I was treated like an animal,” he said.
He also pointed out that 40 people lived in one small room and 60 people used one toilet. There were no blankets, no sheets, and they were give food that “wouldn’t satisfy a dog,” he added.
How a “school” like this was able to operate for this long without interruption or protests, I don’t know, but I fear this remains the tip of the iceberg.
(Screenshot via BBC. Thanks to Som for the link)