Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a crackdown on abuse at Islamic schools on Tuesday, after police raids found men and boys were subject to beatings, abuse and squalid conditions at such schools.
“Mr. President has directed the police to disband all such centres and all the inmates be handed over to their parents,” said a presidential spokesman. “The government cannot allow centres where people, male and female, are maltreated in the name of religion.”
On Tuesday, police in northern Nigeria raided a building where hundreds of boys whose ages range from 7 to 40 were found in dehumanizing conditions.
In an interview with Reuters, police superintendent Isah Gambo said the 67 inmates who were freed by Katsina police were shackled, and many were taken to hospital for treatment.
“I tell you they were in very bad condition when we met them,” Gambo said.
He said the pupils were denied food for days and beaten with chains by the teachers in the school, while some had been molested and sexually abused during their stay at the school, Notably, hundreds of captives had escaped the centre prior to this week’s raid.
The religious school, which also served as a rehabilitation center, was run by a 78-year-old Muslim cleric in Daura. The school owner and two teachers have been arrested and still being held by the police.
Gambo said more than 200 captives who escaped were still missing and that the police are working to reunite the others with family members.
This was the second such raid in last one month. In September, more than 300 men and boys were rescued in a raid on an Islamic school in the northern city of Kaduna, prompting authorities to close the facility. Several marks on their bodies proved that they had been tortured and abused.