Coalition of Northern Groups in Nigeria has accused the eastern region of the country of working on an agenda to cripple the viability of the North debasing its human resource capital base.
In a statement by the coalition, the North accused the Presidency, local and international media of downplaying the uncovering of how some individuals from the South-East in the last 10 years had been abducting, trafficking and proselytizing Muslim children to becoming Christians, even changing their identity and language.
Recently, the Kano State Police Command said it arrested eight suspects involved in the kidnapping and trafficking of nine children.
The victims have been reunited with their relatives.
The children, aged between two and 10 years, were kidnapped from various locations within the state capital and trafficked in Anambra State.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Iliyasu, who handed the kids to their relatives, said some of them were abducted in 2014.
Eight suspects were arrested in connection with the alleged kidnapping and trafficking of the children.
Parading the suspects at the command’s headquarters, Iliyasu said one Sagir Mohammed Bako had alerted them about the mysterious disappearance of children from neighbourhoods across the state capital.
Read Full Text Of Statement
The Coalition of Northern Groups is deeply touched by the report of nine innocent children forcefully separated from their parents and moved to eastern Nigerian towns.
We are profoundly agitated to learn that the children were also baptized with new names and forcefully converted to a religion other than the one their parents practise.
We are also moved that all the players on both removing and receiving points belong to a certain Nigerian tribe whose members are deeply entrenched in every town, city and village in northern Nigeria.
We are particularly saddened that days after the discovery of this heinous crime, no federal, state or local government, cultural, traditional, or religious group, NGO, or international organization has spoken on the matter.
We are further disturbed that even the national and international media except just a few appear to want to downplay this matter.
1. The fact that according to the revelation, this act of merciless crime against children who by definition require the guardianship and protection of adults, had been going on for more than five years undetected and undetected, raises concerns over the existence of several more similar operation locations in many other parts of northern Nigeria.
2. The fact that the theft, movement and forceful conversion target mainly minors who are among the most vulnerable and innocent class of any society suggests a much wider agenda for the ultimate crippling of northern viability by debasing its human resource capital base.
3. The fact that the presidency which is always quick to condemn less grievous actions when they occur in the South is now silent in the face of more oppressive, obnoxious and heinous crime of physically and emotionally harming the most vulnerable people in northern society suggests that the North in the present context has been unjustly and unfairly abandoned and exposed with no official cover or protection.
4. The fact that a large section of the media, reporters, analysts and commentators appear to be uninterested in this matter, indicate a much wider cover-up conspiracy whenever the northern interest is fundamentally breached.
1. CNG calls on all northern societies to first and foremost refuse to accept any attempt to treat this particular case and similar others that may be uncovered as mere child trafficking considering the ages of the victims and the ritual of their renaming and forced conversion to Christianity.
2. The North must insist that in addition to child theft, molestation and forced separation from parents, this particular case and subsequent others that may be dug up, be appropriately dealt with as proselytism which is the act or fact of religious conversion, or attempts at conversion by ‘unjust means that violate the conscience of the human person’.
3. We therefore demand an Act by the Kano state government to amend the Criminal Code so that the minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years are treated as felony with lifetime sentences or death for severer offences such as this one.
a. We demand that all northern states governments also enact similar laws to protect our children from further abuse, torment, and mental or physical exploitation.
4. We demand further enactments by all northern states governments to compel parents, relatives, caretakers, and others who are charged with child care and guidance, media, school officials, physicians, police officers, and other such authority figures to report any signs of abuse or exploitation against a child anywhere in the North.
5. We demand that the federal and Kano state governments set up credible independent commissions of enquiry to holistically look into the depth of the crime including motive, spread and extent of individual and group involvement in the at least the last 10 years.
6. We demand that all northern states governments initiate comprehensive investigations into the possibility of similar crimes carried out, going on, or planned to be carried out in any part of the North.
7. We call on all northern lawyers and all categories of legal practitioners of northern extraction to mobilize and insist on thorough investigation, prompt and diligent prosecution, appropriate conviction and sentence of individuals, groups and interests directly or remotely connected to the current case and similar others that may be unearthed.
8. We demand all northern states governments to order the immediate relocation of luxurious bus stations from the outskirts to approved mainstream motor parks in view of the fact that most cases of trafficking in drugs, arms and humans are carried out using these buses.
9. We alert the entire northern public especially those in neighbourhoods populated by elements of this identified notorious ethnicity to be extra-vigilant with their children and wards.
a. They are advised to begin a vigorous ‘watch your neighbour initiative’ with a view to reporting suspicious movements, actions and conduct relating to drug circulation, concealment of dangerous items and other crimes to the authorities and insist that such person or persons relocate from their midst.
10. Finally, we call on the northern public to immediately commence the compilation of lists of all missing children and persons in the last 20 years for transmission to the authorities and copied to the CNG.
We conclude by giving notice that failure of the authorities to act satisfactorily in the circumstances outlined above and in the event of the slightest perception of attempts at unfair misappropriation of justice or cover-up in this case, the CNG would be left with no option than to call out the northern public to a mass protest to press for justice for these innocent children and others suffering or likely to suffer similar fates.