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‘Rehab Centres have no connection with Islam, Northern leaders’ legacies’ 

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The Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations and Islamic clerics have said that the rehabilitation centres from where security agencies rescued youths recently in the region have nothing in common with Islam or the legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello and other notable leaders. While the Northern Youth group argued that the drug-related rehabilitation centres had nothing to do with the region or people as it was common everywhere, Muslim clerics distanced Islam from the menace, saying the religion discourages torture and sexual harassment of people.

In the space of one month, a total of 818 persons, suspected to have been sexually harassed and physically tortured were discovered as inmates in rehabilitation centres, which claimed to be Islamic, in the northwestern part of the country.First, Kaduna Police rescued three hundred persons chained together in Rigasa, Igabi council of the state. The 300 persons, including minors and a PhD holder, were rescued following a raid on the home allegedly used as an Islamic Centre.

Subsequently, news of another illegal rehabilitation centre in Katsina state, where 360 persons were physically abused filtered through. According to reports, more than 200 out of the 360 persons detained in the facility in Daura, Katsina State, escaped after their revolt against homosexual abuse and other forms of inhuman treatment meted out by their minders.

A week after the raid on the Katsina home, Kaduna state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai led a raid on another illegal rehabilitation centre called Malam Nigga Rehabilitation Centre in Rigasa community, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State, the same area where 300 inmates were earlier freed in another centre.  During the raid, 147 inmates including 22 females and five children were evacuated. The raid on two other illegal rehabilitation centres in Zaria Council, where security operatives rescued another 11 persons, brought the number of persons discovered in illegal facilities to 818. 

In a reaction, the Chief Imam of Waff Road Mosque Forum in Kaduna, Imam Muhammad Sani, told The Guardian that there was a difference between Muslim and Islam. Sani said: “While Islam is one thing, Muslim is another. One cannot be considered a practicing or proper Muslim, except he or she acts in accordance with the teaching of Islam.

“Just because my name is Muhammad or Usman, for instance, and I build a rehabilitation centre, I cannot call it Islamic. If it is Islamic, all the teachings must be abide by the dictates of Islam.He added: “Being a Muslim, if anything goes wrong with my rehab centre, I am responsible and not Islam. There is a difference between a religion and a follower of a religion. A follower of religion can do something wrong, but the religion shouldn’t be blamed.

“Both the Sheikh Hambal rehabilitation centre and that of Mallam Niga should not be described as Islamic. Calling them Islamic is misinformation. We cannot blame journalists for reporting rehabilitation centres as Islamic, because it was written on their signboards as Islamic centres. The person to be blamed is the one who owns the centre.”Imam Sani advised that all centres found illegally operating should be proscribed, because they were denting the image of Islam, the Hausas and northerners. All this should stop. And I am in support of the prosecution of anyone found operating illegally.

“For those doing well, government should assist them in standardising their centres. And give them license to continue. There should be regular checks on them too,” Sani said.A Muslim cleric, Mallam Haruna Kabir explained that Islam encourages equal treatment void of discrimination and it does not permit torture.“To torture human beings in the name of rehabilitation or under any guise, such as chaining and other forms of maltreatment, is not Islamic. That is why it is good for people to study Islam and know its teachings before criticising it,” Kabir said.

In his opinion, the Convener, Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations, Murtala Abubakar, blamed the creation of private rehabilitation centres on government’s failure, particularly in the northern states.He said that the North being a region with the highest number of drug abusers also informed the rationale behind people opening mushroom rehab centres.

According to him, “For instance, if government rehabilitation centres are functioning properly, nobody will patronise private ones. Government-owned centres have completely failed or are non-existent in some states. You should also remember that we have the highest rate of drug addiction, which leads to having the highest number of people with disorders.”

But would the menace not tarnish the image of the region and erode the legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello and other prominent northerners? Abubakar said drug-related problems and rehabilitation centres have nothing to do with a particular region or people because it affects every region in the country. He said: “Why that of the north is an issue is because northerners are conservative in nature. This has nothing to do with the legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr Bala Usman or any of our great leaders; it is just a phenomenon that we are facing and our government should address the issue.”


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