Daura Rehab centre: We were maltreated and molested severally, victims allege
Dozens of boys and men housed at a ‘rehabilitation centre’ in Daura, Katsina State, have recounted harrowing experiences of maltreatment and molestation in the hands of those assigned to correct and take care of them at the facility.
The centre, located at the ancient city’s suburb area of Sabon Garin Daura, is owned by 78-year-old Mallam Bello Abdullahi and was being operated by his son, Umar, before it was closed down a few days ago. The facility had housed over 350 ‘unruly’ boys and men aged between seven and 40, who were brought in by parents or loved ones to undergo rehabilitation process, using a combination of punishment and religious principles.
Years back, the facility was operated majorly as an Islamic/Almajiri school, with past and present state governments said to have assisted its owners with financial grants on more than one occasions.Abdullahi was said to have later upgraded the facility into a rehabilitation centre, and as he was getting old, handed over its management to his son.
Many of the boys and men at the centre were Nigerians, while a few dozens of them were foreigners from neighbouring Niger Republic, Cameroun and Cote d’Ivoire. As the inhuman condition became unbearable for them, some of them took matter into their own hands and staged a protest to express their grievances to the facility’s managers.The protest was quickly quelled, but it led to another one on October 11, which gingered many of them to escape from the facility, leaving only about 65 of them.
The Police, however, closed down the centre the next day after discovering the extent of inhuman treatment that went on there. Some of the boys, who shed tears while narrating their ordeal, said between 30 to 35 of them were accommodated in very small single-window rooms and were forced to use gallons and polythene bags to answer the call of nature.
They maintained that their teachers kept them from seeing their loved ones whenever they came visiting and were often in the habit of keeping for themselves, provisions brought to them by parents and loved ones, a reason they suspect the operators of the facility were often seen riding expensive vehicles and enjoying societal privileges, like the owner, who was among the respected Imams in the city.
In addition, they alleged that during their sojourn at the facility, most of them never got any medical attention whenever they fell sick and were forced to eat one particular kind of food for days, a situation that over time led to the death of over six of them.One of them who narrated his ordeal, Hassan Adamu, 25, an indigene of Daura, said they were literally tortured during their stay at the centre and made to go through inhuman conditions for days on end.
He recounted: “I spent a year and two weeks at the facility, and for long, there have been things that were happening there which people found difficult to believe. In this house, we had serious shortage of food and were overcrowded in small rooms with about 35 or more people per room.“If we were pressed at night, they gave us nylons to defecate or ease ourselves in. If there was someone outside the room, we handed it over to them to help with the disposal. But if one is unlucky and there was no one outside, one had to hide it inside his belongings till morning.
“We were handed rubber gallons for urine. If you couldn’t get one, you had to urinate in your food bowl. In the morning, you pour the urine away and use the same bowl to collect the morning food, which is mostly pap and akara.”Adamu alleged that sexual favours were a peculiar condition required from any of them who wanted to enjoy special privileges, saying: “For you to get special treatment and get everything with ease, you had to agree to be sodomised. Such molestation has happened right in my presence many times than I can remember.
“No form of rehabilitation was going on here, because this is the ninth time I would be brought to the facility and torture was common in the house. When I was brought in the first time, I was flogged 30 times a day for two weeks and made to also do 30 frog-jumps daily.“I would also be chained in my hands and legs and when I wanted to sleep, they would chain my hands from the back and leave me like that till morning.
“The son of the owner of the place was the person running the centre. He took some of us out to engage in homosexuality and returned us late in the night or the next day. The owner only came around three times a year. His son would not allow him to come into the facility and even if he managed to enter, they don’t allow us tell him anything that was going on. “When I got back home and told my people about what I went through, they dismissed it as mere allegation. Several people seemed to know what was happening in the house, but it seemed my own people didn’t know or chose to feign ignorance,” he said.
Another victim, Fahad Jubrilla, an indigene of Mubi in Adamawa State, said six people died during his stay in the facility, while two others developed mental problems due to the unbearable condition.“I have spent two year here and was brought here due to my addiction to drugs and wayward behaviour. We went through hell in this facility. We were abused and starved. When you fall sick, there is no medication.
“Six people died in my presence due to the unbearable condition. When you die, you were bundled out of here and buried somewhere. Two other people also developed mental problems. “We became tired of the suffering and we decided to revolt. This led to over 200 of us escaping. About 67 of us were left before the Police came and sealed the place,” he said.
Lawal Ahmed, 33, who spent two years at the facility, said he witnessed occasions where some of the boys were assaulted sexually and that most of the boys and men at the centre had marks all over their bodies due to severe flogging.He stated that the “operators of the centre were just beating, abusing and punishing us everyday in the name of teaching us. They are not teaching us, for the sake of God.”
A teenager, simply identified as Zahra, also accused the son of the owner of the facility of subjecting him to homosexual acts, adding that two of his teachers at the facility took turns to have carnal knowledge of him.
Zahra said he had to agree to their sexual demands to save himself from going through series of unnecessary punishments. After the facility was sealed off, its owner, Abdullahi, and two of his staff, Habibu Bello, 28, and Abba Abubakar, 22, were arrested and charged to court. They were remanded in prison custody until October 22 when the court would rule on their bail application.
A terse statement issued by the Police and signed by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sanusi Buba, said the boys and men were evacuated to the hospital for treatment, while efforts were ongoing to reunite them with their respective families.The statement called on parents to “desist from taking their children/wards to illegal, unauthorised or unapproved remand/rehabilitation centres,” adding: “Parents should take their recalcitrant/delinquent wards to only recognised and approved facilities provided or registered by the government.”