Nigerian police have released 259 people from an Islamic correctional house in southwestern Nigeria, as part of a series of similar raids across the country in recent weeks, according to reports on Tuesday.
« We discovered on Monday men, women and children being held hostage in an illegal detention center run by a mosque in the Ojoo district of Ibadan, » AFP spokesman Fadeyi Olugbenga told AFP. the police of Oyo State.
The police intervened « quickly » after receiving information from an 18-year-old boy who had escaped from the center, he said.
In total, « 259 people were locked up and begging for help when we arrived, » the spokesman added, adding that children, teenagers, adults and a woman with a baby were among the victims.
« Some have been there for years and have health problems, they are currently receiving medical care, » said Olugbenga. « Those we interviewed said they were fed once every 3 days, sometimes even less. »
The owner and eight others have been arrested, but « the investigation is still under way to get more details, » he added.
A dozen similar raids have been carried out in religious « houses of correction » in Nigeria since September.
Nigerian police released 15 people chained to a Lagos prayer hall during one of the raids on religious « correctional houses » all over the country.
Private – often informal – religious rehabilitation centers are widespread in the most populous country in Africa, where poverty is very high and public services are often absent.
The high rate of drug use and the lack of rehabilitation facilities are driving many parents to enroll their children in these informal schools of recovery.