The emir and the child bride
Just when the outrage at the scandalous abduction of Ese Oruru by a lecher who forced her into marriage is about quitting smouldering, there is now another paedophilic case to stoke the fury over the development. The replication of this scandal is in consonance with the tragic character of a nation that is impervious to the lessons of history. This is why the nation is bogged down by repeated blunders that have consigned it to the fringes of the league of its developed counterparts.
We failed to learn any lessons from the Oruru saga. There were no dire consequences for the so-called emir, other religious leaders and state actors who watched while the ordeal of Oruru lasted. This is why another case of abduction and forced conversion and marriage has now invaded the public consciousness.
Secure in the knowledge of a state that is incapable of inflicting well-deserved sanctions on its citizens who violate its authority, the Emir of Katsina , Alhaji AbdulMumin Kabiru Usman, has allegedly abducted and married 14-year-old Habiba Isiyaku. Continuing in his impunity, the emir allegedly assaulted Mr. Isiyaku Tanko when he went to the palace to take away his daughter.
What clearly confronts us with the reality of the failure of the Nigerian state in this smutty saga is that the police are complicit. They are aware of this condemnable abduction. Yet, they could not effectively intervene. Worse still, the police allowed the emir to bungle what appeared to be their intervention. While the parties involved in the case were meeting in the office of the state police commissioner (PC), a security detail walked in and declared that the emir asked that the girl should be brought to his palace and that her parents should come and take her there. Before the PC, the girl was taken to the palace from the chief security officer.
When the father got to the palace, he was humiliated and made to sit on the floor while the emir did not even bother to appear and address him. He only sent his aide to tell Isiyaku that since his daughter had converted to Islam she could not be released to him. Thus over two months now, the teenager has been in this captivity.
Since it is true that a state’s level of development is measured by how it treats its vulnerable members, the government must consider it necessary to rescue Isiyaku. It is intolerably provocative for the police to tell the parents of the girl to go to the palace and take their daughter. The father does not need to go there. It is the duty of the police to go to the palace, prise this teenager from the bosom of this lecherous emir and escort her to her parents’ home.
Here is another opportunity for the President Muhammadu Buhari government to make good its often-repeated avowal of pursuing justice for all. In this regard, the return of the girl to her parents must not be allowed to end the case. The emir and all those involved in the ordeal of the girl, including the police commissioner and the inspector general of police who refused to intervene when they should, must be duly sanctioned. It is when people are punished for egregious acts of criminality like this that we can rest assured that we are on the path of building a sane society. The emir should not be allowed to luxuriate in the illusion that he is above the laws of the land that forbid a child of 14 years from being married.
Of course, we must remember the deplorable linkage between the emirs’ abduction of Christian teenagers and their forced conversion and marriage and Boko Haram insurgents’ sexual enslavement of teenage girls. What the insurgents do is just a replication on a larger scale of what they see their bigoted religious leaders do without being punished by the state. The girl should not be released and only for the state to abandon her. The emir and his accomplices have disrupted the girl’s education and she must be encouraged to go back to school. She has finished her junior secondary school and because of her captivity, she has not been able to proceed to senior secondary school. It is the same thing with Oruru whose education has been stalled. While her kidnapper is walking free after being granted bail, Ese Oruru is still being detained by the police under the ludicrous guise of protecting her. In captivity, she lives in penury. She is not allowed to further her education and even the government is nowhere to be found to give her the necessary support. After the initial euphoria of her rescue and delivery of her baby, she and her family have been left in the lurch by the government to bear their ordeal.
The emir and his accomplices cannot escape the state’s excoriation because they are a threat to the nation’s unity. They are the ones who fuel agitations for separation. Those who are shocked by the predilection of the emir and others like him for satiating their dark sexual tastes with teenage Christian girls often argue that they are tired of living in a country where there are two sets of laws. One set of laws is for the emirs and others like him while the poor are subject to another set of laws. The agitators further argue that they cannot live in the same country with those who cannot hold themselves to a higher way of life. In other words, if their way of life permits them to be sleeping with underage girls, others who find this abhorrent should not be forced to live with those who would prey on their underage daughters. This is why it is necessary that the state should reassure the citizens that there are the same laws for all by punishing the emir and others who have been involved in the sexual exploitation of this girl.
The family of the girl has accused the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of not doing enough to rescue her. But CAN still has the opportunity to redeem itself. It should demonstrate a strong resolve that it would no longer tolerate the forced marriages of its teenage girls. If the parents of the girls being forced into marriage are too poor to confront the religiously blighted abductors of their children, CAN must deem it necessary to come to their aid. In this regard, even after Habiba Isiyaku is freed, CAN should sue the emir and all those who have been complicit in the abuse of the teenager. The CAN and other good citizens should send a strong message to the emir and his fellow travellers that they are free to gratify their lust for the teenage daughters of those with who they share the same lascivious creed – those who have expunged the word paedophilia from their dictionary- and not the daughters of those who are revolted by their antediluvian tenet and are rather pre-occupied with how to protect and educate their tender female offspring.