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‘Trafficked From Gombe To Jos’ — How Almajirai Were ‘Forcefully’ Converted To Christianity

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Two almajiri students namely Abdulrahman Usaini and Nura Usama went missing last October In Gombe State where they had gone to acquire Quranic education. Eight months later, they were found alongside 19 others at a religious centre in Jos where they were being proselytised.

WikkiTimes learnt the duo, originally from Azare in Bauchi State, were trafficked  by unknown persons riding in a Toyota Camry vehicle to an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) church in Gombe metropolis and afterwards to a proselytising centre located at JMDB quarters, Tudun Wada community of Jos North local council, Plateau State.

“Between October 15 and 20 last year, we tried all we could to find out their whereabouts but couldn’t. I called their parents in Azare to ask if they had traveled home without my consent, and they told me that none of them had returned. We were worried and engaged in prayers,” said Malam Muhammad Misbahu, their teacher who resudes In Bomala community, Akko local council, Gombe State.

READ: ALMAJIRAI DIARY (1): Despair, Hunger, Homesick — Meet The Unprivileged Youngsters Roaming Our Streets

After spending months in the centre “unwillingly,” Abdulrahman escaped on June 13, 2022, leaving his brother behind. He would later raise alarm over the incident and this led to the uncovering of the centre by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).

Their traffickers picked them around Pantami area in Gombe after inviting them to wash a car for them, said Abdulrahman, adding he and his brother refused because “It was later.” But things took dramatic turns.

“They took us to ECWA Church Tumfure, in Gombe, and we spent three weeks there,” Abdulrahman said. “They told us on the last day of the three weeks that we should get ready to travel to Jos. By 4am of that very day, we were already on the road and by 9am, we arrived at the ECWA Headquarters in Jos. I didn’t know Jos; that was my first time coming to Jos.”

He added: “We told them to take us back to Gombe because our parents didn’t know our whereabouts. They refused, and a day after, they moved us to a house in Tudun Wada where we spent eight months. Throughout the period, we were taught Christian religious knowledge. We were taught different subjects that have to do with Christianity, but we were well taken care of. Whatever you needed, they provided us with it. Food was always available.

READ: Gombe Police Has Three Facebook Pages, Bauchi Has One. Yet, They Are Dormant  

“After spending six weeks, we were taken to ECWA Good News located around Ahmadu Bello Way for church service and other church activities.”

Busted 

Following Abdulrahman’s breakthrough, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), an Islamic organisation in Jos reported to the DSS Headquarters in Plateau State.

According to Daily Trust, DSS raided the house on June 14, and rescued the victims, totaling 21 (Abdulrahman and his brother inclusive). While it was clear Abdulrahman and Nura were picked from Gombe, no information yet about wherefrom of the 19 others.

Danjuma Khalid, the Plateau State JNI’s Director Aid Group, doubling also as the Chief Security Officer, Jos Central Mosque, disclosed that the escapee (Abdulrahman) “reported that they had been camped in the house for eight months.”

His words: “On June 13, a group of people including Abdulrahman who ran away from the house met me here in the Central Mosque saying that they had come to report an issue regarding forceful adoption and conversion of their pupils to Christianity by ECWA Church in Jos.

READ: Jos Violence: Residents Decry Burning Of Mosques, Shops At Building Materials Market

“While narrating the incident, the escapee told me that he and one other, Nura Usama, were forcefully taken by some individuals in a Camry Toyota Car from Gombe, to ECWA headquarters, Jos, and after being documented, they were later taken to a house at Tudun Wada, where they were camped, and that he had ran away, leaving his brother, Nura at the house.

“On June 14, we reported the case to the DSS, Plateau State command, and the escapee narrated to the DSS how they were taken from Gombe to Jos and how he escaped from the house in Tudun Wada area. Immediately after we reported the matter, the DSS swung into action. The operatives of the command went to the house in Tudun Wada alongside the escapee, stormed the premises and rescued 21 children.”

According to him, Abdulrahman and his brother have been handed over to JNI, their teacher and a relative. However, the rest of the victims were kept in DSS care until their parents or guardians showed up.

ECWA Reacts

Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, the General Secretary of ECWA, confirmed the centre ownership to the church but refuted proselytising claims.

“There is nothing close to that. ECWA is a global organisation and is involved in a lot of projects. We have healthcare institutions, spiritual welfare, empowerment and so on,” Nmadu said.

“That house that was raided is one of the places we have and used it to help people irrespective of their ethno-religious affiliations. The place is just like a school where somebody has to bring you. We don’t accept anybody below 18 years. We charged people money for admitting you into the school. We train them on different businesses. You will spend one year before you graduate,” he added.

READ: Jos Crisis: Time To Fix Our Hearts And Move On

Despite his claims, Nmadu could not tell who brought Abdulrahman and Nura, his brother from Gombe. Instead, he faulted the former’s action.

“I won’t know because I am not working with the students and I don’t know much about what the DSS found after interrogating the two persons you are talking about,” he said.

“The two of them don’t have to run because they have been there for seven months,” Nmadu affirmed. “One of the policies of the house is that whoever is tired of the programme, he can leave at his will. He has no reason to run because we were not the ones that brought him.”

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