Nigeria is still recovering from the discovery of several « horror » houses in the north of the country. After the great emotion, Nigerians are trying to situate the responsibilities in this drama of scale, unpublished in the country.
Did the Nigerian government let the Islamic schools go until some became executioners for their boarders? This reflection is supported by a segment of the Nigerian population who accuses the authorities of abandoning the education system in the region of the North already impoverished and stigmatized because of the insurrection of the Boko Haram sect.
Infrastructure almost non-existent, under-qualified Islamic teachers … grievances against the government are legion. According to the latest official figures, however, fewer than half of school-age children have attended public schools since 2015. And in the absence of state institutions, Islamic schools have proliferated in the North. offering an alternative to parents. Some 10 million children have been enrolled according to reports.
« No responsible democratic government would tolerate the existence of torture chambers and physical abuse of detainees in the name of rehabilitation »
« If today we decide to close all schools of almajiri (name given to Islamic schools, Ed) … there would be an education crisis, » said Mohammed Sabo Keana of the initiative for the rights of the Almajiri, a non-profit group based in Abuja, advocating for better conditions in the centers.
Strengthen basic infrastructure
These centers go well beyond the simple learning mission. They also claim competence in the treatment of mental, behavioral and addiction concerns. Many parents send their children there in order to « cure » them of drug problems or theft. A father told Reuters he was paying 50,000 naira ($ 163) in registration fees, as well as an additional 10,000 nairas a month to send his adult son to Daura School (one of the best known) for addiction treatment, a considerable sum in a country where the average monthly wage is $ 163.
« The government is supposed to handle the issue (of drugs), but the burden is too heavy for them, » said the father on condition of anonymity.
Some of these centers – sometimes informal – have shown their limits. On Monday again, 259 people were released from an Islamic correctional house. This is one of eight raids in the last six weeks that exposed the horrendous abuse in these centers. According to the Nigerian authorities, nearly 1,500 children and young people were released during these operations.
While Abuja is accused of being unresponsive, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Oct. 19 that his government would not tolerate « torture chambers » that mistreat young people. « No responsible democratic government would tolerate the existence of torture chambers and physical abuse of detainees in the name of rehabilitation, » he said in a statement.
Will the government call be heard? In the opinion of the experts, everything will depend on the investments that Abuja will make in the installation of social institutions.