The Kaduna State Police Command has rescued over 300 hostages after a raid on a building in Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of the state.
Officers raided the centre, named Daru Imam Ahmad Bun Hambal, on Thursday, September 26, 2019 following a tip-off, and discovered hundreds of hostages all reported to be men and boys as young as five.
Some of the children said they were handed over to the centre based on the belief that it’s an Islamic school, but authorities said there’s no evidence it ever was.
The Police revealed that some of the hostages are nationals of Burkina Faso, Mali and other African countries.
The victims, some of whom were chained and prevented from leaving the centre, told authorities that they were sexually abused.
The centre housed a ‘torture chamber’ where Police said students were chained, hung and beaten.
“These people are being used, dehumanised. You can see it for yourself.
“The man who is operating this home claimed that parents brought their children here for rehabilitation; but from the look on things, this is not a rehabilitation centre. No reasonable parent will bring his children to this place.
“So, we are going to investigate them and get to the root of the matter.
“We will find out the real motive behind this centre, and if they are found wanting they will be charged to court,” Kaduna Commissioner of Police, Ali Janga, said.
Bello Hamza, a 42-year-old victim, said he was tricked to the centre by his family.
He said, “I have spent three months here with chains on my legs. I’m supposed to be pursuing my Masters in University of Pretoria, South Africa.
“I got admission to study Applied Mathematics, but here I am, chained.
“They claim to be teaching us Quran and Islam, but they do a lot of things here.
“They subject the younger ones to homosexuality.
“This is supposed to be an Islamic centre, but trying to run away from here attracts severe punishment.
“They tie people and hang them to the ceiling for that, but engaging in homosexuality attracts no punishment.”
Hamza also said he’s witnessed people die at the centre due to torture or poor health during his stay there.
“They give us very poor food and we only eat twice a day — 11:00am and 10:00pm. They have denied me a lot of things here,” he said.
The owner of the centre said allegations of torture, dehumanisation and homosexuality by the victims are all false.
“We do nothing here other than teaching people Islam. They don’t do anything other than recitation of Quran, pray, and worship God.
“Those chained are the stubborn ones who attempt running away. Those who don’t attempt running away are not chained.
“Some were chained before and after settling down, they were freed.
“Most of them were brought by their parents from across the country and others from outside the country,” he said.
Eight suspects were arrested by the Police during Thursday’s raid.