Like in other states in the country, an illegal detention camp-styled rehabilitation centre was discovered recently in Ibadan. BAYO AGBOOLA writes that the state government has ordered that the facility be demolished to give sanity to the area.
The gale of discovering torture/illegal detention centres within religious complexes in some parts of Nigeria resurfaced in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital on Monday, November 4 when the state police command led by the commissioner of police, Mr Shina Olukolu, stormed the Ojoo area of Ibadan and rescued over 300 captives from an illegal detention centre in the area.
It was a like a drama when the residents sighted several security patrol vans with armed policemen arriving the area and headed for the popular Olore mosque in which the said illegal detention centre is located. With the arrival of the armed policemen at the centre, they swung into action immediately by securing all the outlets in an around the place. In the process, 34 females, 191 males, 11 children and 23 sick ones all in very terrible, dehumanised conditions were fished out by the policemen amidst others who were looking frail with some of the captives in chains.
How we got the information – Police
The police chief, who led the team to the one storey building, disclosed that the police command was informed of the illegal centre by a 17-year-old captive who escaped from a similar facility in another part of Ibadan. According to him, while narrating his experience to the police, he mentioned Olore mosque in Ojoo as another facility used in holding victims.
“The young man said they were being maltreated, not being well-fed, were being treated like slaves and engaged in forced labour. Sometimes, death of any inmate is not reported to anybody. On the basis of that information, the police decided to check it out. We got to Owode, Apata. By the time we got there, they have evacuated that facility. But from the surroundings, we knew that there were people in that place earlier than the time we arrived. “However, the young man informed the police that there is another detention facility and that is where we are now at Oloore, Ojoo area of Ibadan. Actually, when the police got here, we discovered that young men, young women are being kept in captivity in a dungeon-like situation.”
Disturbed by the situation at the illegal detention centre, CP Olukolu said, “As a matter of fact, man’s inhumanity to man is being manifested in this environment. And we are not happy about the situation. So, we got across to the state government officials and they are around. They are here with a view to ensuring that some of these young men that are kept against their will are liberated and allowed to be in a position where they can talk to themselves and take care of themselves.”
“Definitely, this area would be secured and the police would to do further investigation, further search and anyone at all, who is found culpable would definitely be arrested, investigated and prosecuted diligently to serve as warning to others who may want to operate such houses that serve as illegal detention centres.”
Speaking on the discovery of the centre, the state commissioner for women affairs and social inclusion, Alhaja Fusat Ajoke Sanni, said the state government is currently on top of the situation, noting that the situation at the centre was very pathetic
“We got a distress call in our office this afternoon and we came immediately to the scene of the incident. We have made arrangements to evacuate some of them to the hospital as well as our correctional homes.”
Makinde ordered demolition of the centre
Blueprint gathered that the following day, Governor Seyi Makinde headed for the centre to see things for himself during which he was left with no other option than to order the total demolition of the illegal detention centre and all those involved in the operation of the illegal activities to be prosecuted, saying it is wrong for certain individuals to be using a mosque as a cover up for crimes and criminalities.
Governor Makinde stressed that it was unbelievable that such facility could be going on in such an open and exposed area of Ojoo in Ibadan in the capital of the state. According to him, “What we have seen is something that we all have to condemn and this shouldn’t be happening in a modern environment. You can’t use a mosque as façade to perpetrate this kind of evil. Yes, we have marked the entire structure for demolition; we have here the Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning and Ministry of Health and Justice.
“The government will do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that this kind of thing is stamped out from our environment. But there are houses around here; these are people; ideally, they should say something because this kind of things couldn’t have been going on without all of these people, particularly the residents around here, without them knowing about it. So, they should have reported this thing to the authorities and maybe we would have unravelled it a long time ago. Also, we want to encourage our people, the government, parents and even family members, if you need to rehabilitate members of your family that are not behaving well, we have government institutions that can do that and we are trying to refurbish those places for the people of the state.”
According to the governor, “Whatever is necessary, looking at the laws of our land regarding this kind of thing, we will ensure we get this place away from those people doing this kind of things within the ambit of the law. Also, you have the law enforcement agencies here; all those involved are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of our law. For the victims, we have mobilised the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion and the social welfare agencies there. First, we need to have immediate palliative for them and then we have to look at the deeper issues and how to resettle them and reunite them with their families; we are not going to leave them alone at this point.”
He, however, assured the rescued victims during a visit to where they were moved to at Challenge area of Ibadan that his government is on the matter to ensure that those behind the illegal operations of the facility get prosecuted within the ambit of the law and that 22 of them are currently receiving medical attention at a private hospital as a result of their critical health condition. He noted, “We need to get to the root of this matter; the security agencies would investigate it. Anyone found innocent would be released. You need to cooperate with government for us to get to the root of the matter.
Would the centre be demolished?
With the unfolding events, all eyes are now on the state government and police on what becomes of the six suspects including the proprietor of the centre as well as the centre itself which Governor Makinde has ordered it to be demolished.
Already, an Ibadan-born Islamic cleric based in Dublin, Alhaji, Abdul Kabir Arisekola, who is the chief Imam of Dublin city has urged Governor Makinde not to demolished Alfa Olore Islamic House and Correctional Centre at Ojoo in Ibadan, but said the governor should use his administration to assist the centre management in learning a modern way of running a correctional and not illegal detention centre
Alhaji Arisekola, who emphasised the impacts of the Islamic centre on the lives of family that reject their children as a result of stubbornness, said he is a living witness of the correctional activities at the centre, saying it is not what the government and the general public tagged it. According to him, he spent seven years at the centre after which he rebuilt his own foundation on successful solid rock.
” I am one of the Alfa Olore correctional centre old students; I am one out of blessed students who passed through the centre. I heard the governor gave a direction to demolish our centre; you don’t need to do that sir, don’t dare to demolish the house of God loved by the people. Governor Makinde, you are a man with fear of God; you heard the outcries of innocent people and you rose to the outcries, you are a man of God indeed.”