There is a child called Habiba Ishiaku. She was abducted this August at age 14, forcefully ‘married’ and is said to have converted to Islam. Her parents insist they know nothing about it. I was at a function earlier today where her father said he knows nothing about it.
This happened in Katsina. After she got missing, he says he reported to the police. It was then realised what had happened about her abduction and supposed marriage. The police commissioner reviewed the case and sent the girl back to the Emir of Katsina’s palace where she had been captive in a supposed marriage and asked the father to go by himself to get his daughter. When he went he couldn’t access his daughter. The emirate council accused him of wrongdoing to have reported the emir to the police. He had no option than to plead for mercy. He needed his daughter back. He was then asked to sign something they wrote, that he had accused the emir falsely. This he declined. After a long wait, and seeing as they weren’t budging, he signed and got his own copy, and then they sent him away.
Up till now he’s going round and round; can’t access his own daughter. The state knows where she is, in the Emir of Katsina’s custody. He’s been everywhere, in the media repeatedly, all to no avail. He’s written to the IG of Police, DG of SSS, the state government in Katsina, nothing came out of it . The emirate council has been lying that the child was ‘married’ with the father’s consent. He insists it isn’t true, and he wants his abducted daughter back. What precisely is going on here? Is it because she’s poor and her parents are poor? When you’re poor in Nigeria you are voiceless, in fact you don’t exist. Is it because she was a Christian?
There are conditions precedent to a marriage in Islam especially of a female who hasn’t been married before: offer, and acceptance by the bride’s family; witnesses especially from the bride’s family; bride price paid to the bride’s family. And certainly, the groom can’t be said to have completed the rites and duly married unless he asks the bride to confirm that she has received her bride price or whoever has it does so with her consent. I wonder which of these conditions the emir and co-conspirators fulfilled.
President Muhammadu Buhari is away to The Gambia to resolve an issue, but he won’t resolve one back home. General Buhari is not responsible for or to Gambians, but he is responsible for and to, including the least Nigerian. He won’t call the emir in his own home state Katsina and ask him to release the captive. He won’t see to it that wrongdoing and impunity have consequences. Under him the police do nothing to protect citizens and uphold the law, and nothing happens.
How is this not an approval, endorsement, and support for abduction of girls, forced ‘marriages’, child ‘marriages’, and over all, impunity? How is his silence on the matter not a signal emboldening others to do more such abductions?
This is a clear signal to all about the failure of governance in Nigeria. It simply means we’re all on our own. There’s no government to protect you. The mighty rule and do whatever it is they want, and nothing happens. If you can protect yourself, fine. If not, pray and hope for the best.
By: Sesugh Akume