Authorities in northern Nigeria shut down a children’s facility described as a “torture chamber” on Wednesday, rescuing dozens in the process.
Premium Times reported that state officials stormed the Daiba educational facility, located in Rijiyar Lemu quarters of Kano state, where they found 36 children, many of whom were locked up in chains.
The raid took place shortly after the state government set up a committee to assess centers across the state and determine whether they were adhering to the law and regulations.
The head of the task force, Muhammad Tahar, told Freedom Radio that the Daiba center was “notorious for chaining and torturing its inmates.” The children have now been placed in the care of the Kano State Hisbah Corps, a religious police force responsible for the enforcement of strict adherence to Islamic law.
According to the Times, after learning of the crackdown, the proprietors of such centers began shutting them down themselves and releasing the students to avoid possible criminal ramifications.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the centers, urging people to “remain vigilant and assist security agencies in crime prevention and control by reporting the existence of criminal activities in their communities.”
“On torture chambers, in this day and age, no responsible democratic government would tolerate the existence of torture chambers and physical abuses of inmates in the name of rehabilitation of the victims,” he said.
The president also applauded local authorities for the center’s human rights abuses, adding that he was “optimistic that the efforts would be sustained to check illegal activities of such nature.”
The report is the latest in a long line of shocking child abuse cases taking place across the country, particularly in the predominantly Muslim north. Southern Nigeria is largely Christian; pockets of African paganism exist throughout the country and many Muslims and Christians adhere to some African traditional spiritual practices.
Last month, Buhari ordered the carrying out of raids on various facilities known as “Almajiris,” where parents send their children with the expectation of receiving a “boarding school” type Islamic education. The facilities were described by local officials as “places of horror and modern slavery,” where children as young as five were found in chains having reportedly been “tortured and subject to sexual abuse.”
Some human rights organizations estimate that around 10 million children could be in the hands of these “boarding schools,” although that number is expected to fall after the federal government proscribed their existence this year.
Another major source of extreme child abuse in northern Nigeria comes from the Islamist terror organization Boko Haram, an offshoot of the Islamic State. Over recent years, the group has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against civilians and abducted hundreds of schoolgirls (many of whom still remain unaccounted for). while also causing the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians.