The police said on Tuesday that Yunusa Yellow, the alleged abductor of Ese Oruru, the 14-year-old girl allegedly abducted from Yenegoa and forced into marriage in Kano, would be prosecuted.
The Assistant Police Commissioner in charge of Zone 1 Police Headquarters, Kano, Shuaibu Gambo, told journalists in Kano shortly after Ese was dispatched to the Nigeria Police Headquarters, Abuja that Yellow would be charged to court to face criminal charges.
The police chief spoke as voices, including that of Ese’s Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Kano State Government, rose in favour of the prosecution of the alleged abductor. The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and some members of the House of Representatives have also called for the prosecution of Yellow who allegedly abducted Ese from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and forced her into marriage in Kano, Kano State six months ago.
The 14-year-old who breathe the air of freedom on Monday, following the intervention of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, has also been promised full rehabilitation by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, who admonished parents to be more vigilant about the activities of their children.
Ese and Yellow were taken from Kano to Abuja yesterday for the handover of the former to her parents by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Solomon Arase. But the handover could not take place following the late arrival of Ese’s parents to the federal capital city. The ceremonies, Police Force Public Relations Officer Olabisi Kolawole, a deputy commissioner of police, said yesterday, would take place today at the police headquarters.
Kolawole told journalists, who had massed at the police headquarters from the early hours of yesterday that the handing over of Ese to her parents would be done today, as her parents were still on their way from Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, as at 8pm yesterday.
“The truth of the matter is that the parents are still on their way and instead of us waiting, let’s leave it till tomorrow morning,” she said, explaining that Ese’s parents were in Abaaji about 8pm.
Commenting on the reason for the delay, she said: “Their vehicle developed fault and that is why they didn’t arrive at the time we expected them to arrive.”
Leading the call for police prosecution, Governor Okowa who said he heard about the alleged abduction for the first time on Monday called on the police to investigate the allegation and bring to book all those who might be indicted.
“No illegality must be condoned in any society,” the governor said in a statement in Asaba by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu.
The governor described the incident as unprecedented and uncanny, considering the age of the abductee, who was allegedly forced into marriage without the consent of her parents and reportedly converted to Islam by his abductor.
The Kano State Government in a statement by its Commissioner for Information, Youths and Sports, Malam Mohammed Garba, dissociated itself from the alleged abduction, forced marriage and conversion to Islam of the teenager.
Condemning the episode and decrying security agencies’ poor handling of the matter, the government said although the state government was not aware of the incident, the directive of the Emir of Kano Sanusi II, for the release of the girl should have been acted upon.
It, therefore, ordered that the abductor be brought to book since the Constitution and Islamic teaching abhorred abduction and forced marriage.
The statement further condemned any statement by anyone or group, linking the government to the matter in the social media, adding that the act was meant to tarnish the image of the state.
It stressed that the abductor was responsible for his action and should solely take responsibility for it, noting that the state has cordial relation with Bayelsa indigenes and the state.
The government enjoined indigenes of Kano State living in other parts of the country to live peacefully with their host communities and respect their ways of life.
In its reaction, the IYC condemned the alleged abduction and asked the police to immediately prosecute the alleged abductor.
“The IYC insists that the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, must bring those who masterminded the kidnap of Miss Oruru to justice in line with the anti-kidnapping law of Bayelsa State,” it said, adding: “This is the only way we can put a stop to such criminal conducts especially considering the worrying activities of Fulani herdsmen in different parts of the country.’’
The group commended the role of the media in the rescue of Ese, noting that the media had once again demonstrated how important it is in the task of nation building.
Also reacting to the alleged abduction, a Muslim group, MURIC, called on the police to immediately commence the prosecution of Yellow.
In a statement in Abuja by its Executive Director, Ishaq Akintola, MURIC said Yunusa’s alleged action “violated the law and caused a Christian family to go through a traumatic period”.
Akintola said the alleged abductor should first be charged to court in Yenagoa, and later before a Sharia court in Kano if it was proved that he had canal knowledge of the girl.
“Our position is based on the fact that the girl is a minor,” the group said, explaining: “Attempting to marry off the girl without her parent’s permission is not only a breach of common law but also a violation of the Shariah provision on the need for the parents’ approval before nikah (Islamic marriage) can be deemed valid (La nikah bila waliyyin).
“Of particular significance in this regard is the express command in the Glorious Qur’an that women should be married with the permission of their parents. The Qur’an says inter alia, ‘…And marry them (i.e. women) with the permission of their parents(Qur’an 4:25)’.”
It commended the Emir of Kano for his role in the matter, saying he “displayed immense understanding of the issues at stake and acted like a responsible leader and a knowledgeable Muslim by ordering that the girl should be returned to her family”.
A member of the House of Representatives representing Ughelli North/Ughelli South/Udu Federal Constituency of Delta state, Hon. Solomon Ahwinahwi, in his own reaction called for the enforcement of laws that protect minors from all kinds of exploitation.
Ahwinahwi, who spoke to THISDAY yesterday, said it had become necessary for law enforcement agencies to apply the laws protecting minors from abuse in order to forestall a repeat of Ese’s experience by any other Nigerian child.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Governor, Dickson, who expressed regret over the alleged abduction of Ese, has promised to rehabilitate the young girl.
A statement issued yesterday by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, condemned the alleged abduction, but expressed satisfaction with the individuals, non-governmental and civil society groups for bringing the matter to national and international focus.
Dickson pledged the government’s preparedness to support every effort at not only re-uniting Ese with her family back in Yenagoa, but also ensure her rehabilitation and reintegration into the society to resume her normal life.
While commending the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the role he played in ensuring the release of the victim, Dickson also applauded security agencies for the swiftness and professionalism with which the matter was handled.
He thanked the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi II, for ensuring the safety of Ese and eventual handing over to the police in Kano.
“The government and people of Bayelsa State will remain eternally grateful to all those who contributed in one way or the other in giving the issue the desired attention,” Dickson said.