Monday, 7 March 2016
Ese: How Yunusa 'disvirgined' Tofa
Until recently, Tofa, one of the viable agrarian community in Kano State was hitherto known only for its fertility and growth of rice, wheat, tomatoes and also for livestock rearing. But the recent Ese Oruru/Inuwa Yellow elopement saga, has brought Tofa, a tiny community in Kura Local Government Area to the prying eyes of the international community. Tofa today, has acquired notoriety as a community where a hasty conversion of an abducted Christian teenage girl into Islam was performed at the prompting of a 25-year old acting on the currents of infatuation, abandoned his job in Bayelsa, only to ‘steal’ Ese Rita Oruru into his village, where he thought, opposing forces would not disturb their romance.
Little wonder, Alhaji Dahiru Bala, father of Inuwa insisted that his son did not commit any crime. Elderly Bala who spoke to a group of journalists in his country home of Tofa maintained that Ese and Inuwa were ‘deeply in love’. He also insisted it was wrong for security agencies to plan to prosecute his son. “The girl fell in love with my son and followed my son. Let them release my son because he has not committed any crime,” he main-tained.
However, investigations by The AUTHORITY on Sunday have re¬vealed that Ese had been in Kura in the custody of Inuwa since August last year when the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi 11 instructed that she be taken back to her parents in Bayelsa State. Da¬gaci Tofa (Village Head), Alhaji Yu¬suf Suleiman (50) was the one that took Inuwa and Ese to the Chief Imam of Kura Central Mosque, Malam Ali Alkhasim, who admin-istered the oath of conversion from Christianity to Islam on Ese.
But speaking with a group of journalists (including The AUTHORITY Correspondent) in his house last Wednesday, Dagacin Tofa expressed disappointment in Inuwa for not respecting the orders and instructions of the Emir of Kano, who ruled out matrimonial solemnization between Ese and In¬uwa on the grounds that even in Is¬lam, Ese was not permitted to give her hand out in marriage, without the support of her parents. He de¬scribed Inuwa’s action as unlawful and unIslamic, noting that she was not old enough to decide marital is¬sues on her own. The Village Head said the Tofa community heaved a sigh of relief when the news filtered in that Ese has been rejoined with her family in Bayelsa.
The Tofa Village Head, however, gave details of how Ese was led from Tofa to the Emir’s Palace after she was converted to Islam and how the Emir of Kano ordered that Ese be re¬patriated to her parents, thus: “What I know about the story is that there was a time that boy, Inuwa Dahiru Bala, a native of this village, came with the girl in question whom I learnt her name is Ese Oruru. They came here sometime last year, and Inuwa brought her to me. When he told me what he wanted to do, that is, getting married to the girl, I told him I don’t have the powers to join them as husband and wife. So, I de¬cided to take them to the Hakimi (District Head) of Tofa.
“The Hakimi took the issue to the Liman (Islamic scholar) of our vil¬lage where the conversion of the girl from Christianity to Islam was performed. From there, we headed straight to the Emir’s Palace to in¬timate him of the development. Unfortunately, the Emir was not around at that time. We met the then Wambai Kano (Abbas Sanusi, now Galadiman Kano). The Wam¬bai Kano instructed us to take them to the Sharia’ah Commission. At the Sharia’ah Commission, the issue was further discussed, the parents of the girl were invited to Sharia’ah Com¬mission. The parents wanted to take the girl back to Bayelsa, but they could not.
“Then, the next day being a Friday, we went back to the Emir’s Palace and we were asked to come back on Monday (after the weekend). When we came back to the Emir’s Palace that Monday, we waited a long time for representatives of the Sharia’ah Commission, but they delayed us to the extent that the Emir got tired and left for other official engage¬ments. So, when the Emir left, the Police who came along with the par¬ents of the girl had no choice than to leave for other official duties too. However, the Emir delegated pow¬er to Wambai Kano who spoke on behalf of the Emirate Council and informed us that the girl, being less than 16 years of age, should not be given out for marriage without the consent of her parents.
“Having been informed of the position of the Emirate Council on the issue, Wambai Kano gave us a letter stating the position of the Emirate Council and instructed us to deliver it to the Assistant In¬spector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 1, including Inuwa and the girl. We delivered the letter to the AIG and gave him a message that the Emir instructed that the girl should be repatriated to Bayel¬sa where her parents live. After de¬livering the letter and the two chil¬dren to the AIG, that was where I stopped playing any role, believing that the AIG will handle the matter as instructed by the Emir.
“I must state that Tofa people are not happy with this development and we condemn the actions of our son, Inuwa. Now, I must tell you that it was wrong for Inuwa to have brought the girl back to this village after the Emir of Kano has given his verdict that the girl be repatriated to her people. It is not in our char¬acter to do this kind of thing. So, I must declare that Inuwa’s character was unIslamic and totally unac¬ceptable by the people of Tofa vil-lage who have high regard to our religion, constituted authorities and the revered throne of Sarkin Kano, Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi 11.
“Inuwa has cheated the people of Tofa; he has smeared our name and the name of Kano state, even that of Nigeria. My advice to the young ones is that whenever they want to get married from any part of the country, they should properly fol¬low the channels, tradition, cus¬toms and norms of the people.
“The reunion of the girl with the parents is the best option in this issue and Tofa people align them¬selves with this decision, because since the Emir’s verdict on the is¬sue, all that we have been fighting for is that the girl be returned to her parents”.
Emir Sanusi speaks
The AUTHORITY on Sunday further reports that following ac¬cusation complicity in the social
media, especially that he (Emir) was keeping Ese in his Palace, the Emir in a press conference exoner¬ated himself from the saga. He said the rumour were “baseless and an attempt to tarnish his image”. He recalled that in August last year, the District Head of Kura brought the case before his throne and he gave a verdict that the girl should be taken back to her parents in Bayelsa, since even in Islamic laws and tenets, she was too young to decide for herself at 14. “Since August last year, the District Head of Kura came to my palace with a young girl of about 15 years, alongside with somebody from the area whom we were told was married to her after she was converted to Islam. I ordered her immediate repatriation to her par¬ents who were said to be in Bayelsa state. I ordered the Kano State Sha¬riah Commission to liaise with the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Zone 1, to assist in taking her back to her parents in Bayelsa, through the AIG who oversees Bayelsa axis, for her safety,” the Emir explained.
He further stated: “In Islam, she has no right to just go ahead and decide things for herself. She is still young. She is not mature enough. And nowhere in Islam where such young girls can just make up their mind and give their hands in mar¬riage just like that. It is not permit¬ted in Islam; that is why we said she must be taken back to her par¬ents.” The Traditional Ruler, then wondered why a section of the me¬dia linked him to the controversy, adding that he was shocked when somebody called him from South Africa, intimating him of the is¬sue. “To my utter surprise, since from the time we ordered that the girl be taken to her parents in Bay¬elsa through AIG Zone 1 office, we didn’t hear anything about her. Just for us to now start hearing all kinds of stories that we are keeping her in our custody.
“This is injustice of the highest or¬der. We cannot in anyway be more Muslim than the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him. We must therefore do things according to the set rules and regulations governing our reli¬gion, “he insisted.
Kano govt blames security
Kano State Government on its part, frowned at the development and blamed security agencies, par¬ticularly the Police and the De¬partment of State Security (DSS) for not doing a thorough job. The Kano state Government also de¬scribed Inuwa’s actions as unlawful and unIslamic. The Commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Malam Muhammad Gar¬ba regretted that security agencies did not handle the issue effectively before the scandal escalated. He also exonerated the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi 11 of any complicity in the whole saga, saying it was regrettable that the whole is¬sue was allowed to almost smear the good image of Kano state Govern¬ment and its people.
“The issue was handled with dis¬patch, competently, courageously and with all sense of concern by His Highness, the Emir of Kano, since August last year, when the case was brought to his attention by order¬ing that the girl, Ese Oruru, who has never ever been kept under his custody in the Palace, be taken back to her parents in Yenogoa in liaison with the office of the AIG Zone 1.
He added: “The issue was never at any point in time brought to the attention of the Kano State Govern¬ment by any authority, group or per¬son involved in any capacity in the issue, but we only knew of it in the media.
The state government condemns in its entirety the actions of the al¬leged abductor as it is against the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the teachings of Islam which abhor ab¬duction, forced marriage, even with the consent of parents of a girl, be her a minor or an adult, and forced conversion to Islam as the Quran categorically states that ‘there is no compulsion in religion.”
The commissioner added: “any statement by any person, group or organization linking the Kano State Government with the alleged abduc¬tion, forced marriage and conversion to Islam of the girl are unfounded, untrue, misguided and mischievous allegations being circulated in the mainstream and social media plat¬forms are only meant to discredit and tarnish the good image of Kano State Government, its people and the personality of His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
“The Government has no prior knowledge of the issue before it becomes public; it has no connec¬tion whatsoever with the suspected culprit; it has never condone such actions and will never do so now or in the future. The actions of the suspected culprit are private actions of an individual of which he carries personal responsibility even before the law. It is therefore unfortunate and unjustifiable to attempt to link an unlawful action of only one per¬son to the Government and over 15million people of the state. The person is solely responsible for his action and should take responsibil¬ity for it.
“Kano indigenes living in these states and other states across the country are enjoined, as always, to live peacefully with their host com¬munities and respect their ways of life and the constitution of our great country”. The statement also reiter¬ated the need to protect the rights of minors on matters of faith and mar¬riage as well as promote unity and peaceful coexistence among all Ni¬gerians.
Non-indigenes lent support to the Emir
Also Ethnic Community Lead¬ers Association (ECLAK) in Kano State aligned themselves with the position of the Emir of Kano and the Kano state Government, con¬demning the actions of Inuwa and called on fifth columnists attempt¬ing to brew ethno-religious senti¬ments in the whole saga to desist from such. In an interview with The AUTHORITY on sunday, ECLAK President-General, Dr. Jimpat Ai¬yelangbe said the Emir of Kano handled the Ese saga progressively and efficiently. In his words, “as a leader of ethnic communities in Kano, I have handled these kind of case; and it has always led to a near-war situation. In all my years of dealing with a case like this, I can confess that the management of this case by the Emir of Kano was done in a very different, pro¬gressive and appropriate manner. The Emir acted honourably; and I will like to make it abundantly clear that the Emir represents a good dimension in leadership; he has demonstrated equity and fair¬ness”.
The ECLAK boss, further de¬scribed the current of emotions
that existed between Ese and Inuwa as a, “a very deep firing infatuation that could have consumed the duo if drastic actions were not taken. From what I have read, I under¬stand that the Inuwa in question is a handsome young man. There will always be girls who are infatuated by handsome boys who have the mind to give out freely. I do not think it has anything to do with religion or ethnicity”.
We failed to act fast – Police
The Nigeria Police finally accepted that it did not act fast to save the situation with regard to the abduc¬tion and forced marriage of Ese Rita Oruru who was illegally kept in Tofa, Kura Local Government Area of Kano by Inuwa Dahiru Bala (25) for over six months. The Police also revealed that Ese was handed over to them by authorities of the Kano State Shari’ah Commission last Monday.
The Police further confirmed that in August, last year, the matter was reported to the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi 11, who then or-dered that Ese be returned to Bayel¬sa State under the supervision of the Office of the AIG in-charge of Zone 1. Briefing journalists at Zone 1 Po¬lice headquarters in Kano, the As¬sistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Mr. Shuaibu Lawal Gambo admitted negligence over their fail¬ure to repatriate Ese since August last year.
According to him, “police ought to have followed up the case with the Sharia Commission to confirm whether it has resolved the matter about the repatriation of the girl to her family or not”. Gambo also could not confirm whether Ese was preg¬nant or not, adding that, “the Force headquarters are in better position to explain her health status because they are to conduct the medical ex¬aminations on her. They can explain this because I don’t have copy of the medical examination with me to verify whether she is pregnant or not. It is evident that there was fail¬ure of communication as the delega-tion never returned with the girl for onwards transportation to her fami¬ly and no further report on the com¬plaint whatsoever, was received in respect of the case. The information, as obtained from my predecessor, AIG Tambori Yabo, confirmed that His Royal Highness actually sent a delegation, made up of some mem¬bers of the Sharia’ah Commission and the representative of the Emir¬ate Council, with a letter requesting the Police to take back the girl to her parents.
“However, the delegation in the company of the girl arrived very late in the evening to the Zone, as a result of which it was agreed by all parties to bring her back the following day so as to implement the request of the monarch. On the part of the Zone, when it did not hear from the del¬egation, it innocently presumed that the case might have been resolved by the Shari’ah Commission, which as you know is also empowered to adopt alternative dispute resolution measures in cases of this nature.
“It will be in public interest to ad¬dress the unfounded argument in some quarters that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solo¬mon Arase ought to have acted earli¬er on the matter. Let me categorical¬ly state that the IGP was never in the picture of this case until on Sunday (28 February), when the matter was reported in the conventional media”.
And she became a VIP
When Ese Oruru arrived at Yena¬goa, the Bayelsa State capital on Wednesday night, amidst tight secu¬rity, she first of all spent three days under the protective custody of the police at the Police Officers Mess. Bayelsa State Commissioner of Po¬lice, Peter Ogunyawo, confirmed this adding that she would spend some time there. At the police officers Mess, journalists were denied access to the girl by security operatives act¬ing on instructions from above.
According to the CP, “I can confi¬dently tell you that she is right here, hale and hearty. We are trying to see how we can counsel her. As you can see, my wife had just visited her and that is what we intend doing in the next few days. She is traumatized”. A police source informed our reporter that “there is a directive that the girl should be accommodated at the Mess for three days because of the trauma she had passed through”.
Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has sent a protest letter to the National Assembly and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the alleged shoddy handling of the abduction, forceful marriage and conversion to Islam of the 14 years old girl. According to the CLO, though the Police through the prompting of the Media and Civil Society groups, have secured the release of the abducted Miss Oruru, the NHRC and the National Assembly should pre¬vail on the Nigerian Police to ensure proper rehabilitation of the victim and immediate arrest and prosecu-tion of all those involved in the ab¬duction saga.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in the letter signed by the Bayelsa State Chairman, Chief Nengi James; the Legal Secretary, Barr. O.J.J Macbere and the Mother of victim, Mrs. Rose Oruru, stated that the victim and her family are entitled to exemplary damages, proper clinical evaluation and prosecution of those behind the weeks of traumatisation experienced by Ese during her abduction. In the letter, the CLO said they “were stunned to learn that she wants to maintain her new religion and name”, insisting she has undergone psychological trauma and does not have the requisite mental capacity to take decision regarding her status. “Accordingly, it is our very candid recommendation that Miss Ese Oruru be accorded clinical evaluation cum all-round medical tests to ascertain her psyco-motor balance amongst others in the presence of her parents or their professional privies,” they insisted.
Also speaking, a human rights activist, Comrade Ebiserikumo Jason Gbassa accused both the Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson and CP Ogunyawo of negligence, alleging that since August when the girl was abducted, none of them did anything, adding that the person that impregnated her must be produced and charged to court