The web of teenage abductions ravaging the country has hit the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. This time, a 16-year old, SS-2 student of Government Secondary School, Apo Resettlement, Ifesinachi Ani, was abducted about six months ago and taken to an unknown destination.
The missing girl is a native of Amaechi Awkunanaw in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State. The mother, a widow of four, lamented that neither the FCT Police Command nor other organisations have been able to offer any reasonable assistance to secure the release of the girl and called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, to help rescue her child.
But the FCT Police Command through its spokesman, DSP Manza Anjurin, said even though it is aware of the woman’s complaints, her inability to bring up a petition as verbally advised, made it impossible for the Command to investigate the matter. “She came here with a journalist and made the complaint. I advised her to write a petition so that it would be properly handled. Up till today, we have not seen her and we are stuck; we have nothing to work on. We don’t even have the woman’s contact otherwise, we would have called her,” the Police Public Relations Officer disclosed.
However, investigations carried out by The AUTHORITY on Sunday, have revealed that Ifesinachi’s abductors are bold, daring and appear to be a well-funded syndicate. It was also discovered that the primary aim of the group is to abduct and convert to Islam, as many teenagers as possible from Christian-dominated ethnic groups in Nigeria, for handsome reward. The act is carried out through all forms of subterfuge, including deceit, hypnotism and fetish methods.
In this particular case, The AUTHORITY on Sunday could point at a combination of these factors. This is because, Ifesinachi’s mother told the Editorial Board of The AUTHORITY that a self-styled Islamic teacher who lives near her residence at the Apo Resettlement Area of Abuja, simply called Baba Abdul, used some seemingly diabolical method to lure her daughter to himself and in a jiffy, changed her character.
According to her, “immediately my daughter came in contact with this Baba Abdul who stays near us, her attitude changed suddenly. I could no longer understand the character of my child. She started to tell lies and disrespect me to the extent that I almost went mad. It was four days before they took my daughter away from us that I discovered what was happening”.
Although Ifesinachi’s exact location could not be ascertained, when the Editorial Board of The AUTHORITY called the abductors through one of the three telephone numbers provided by Mrs. Ani, a female voice at the other end said Mrs. Ani should stop bothering about her child’s welfare. She wondered why the reporter detailed to communicate with her, who bears an Islamic name, should be asking about Ifesinachi’s well-being “since as a Muslim, you should understand the reward for converting non-Muslims of other tribes”. Midway into the discussion, she cut off the telephone call, querying if truly the caller is a Muslim, as claimed.
Mrs. Ani had informed our Editorial Board that her child’s abductors claimed they took the missing girl to Maiduguri, Borno State but The AUTHORITY on Sunday has no technical facility to verify the actual location of the abductors even when we spoke with them on telephone.
Findings by The AUTHORITY on Sunday, however showed that several other girls, mainly from the South East and South-South geo-political zones are being held in this particular camp and have since been converted to Islam. What we could not ascertain is if Ifesinachi has been married off or impregnated as the case of Ese Oruru who was abducted from Bayelsa and taken to Kano state, married off and impregnated. But, this possibility is not yet ruled out.
Dabbing her eyes as she unfolded her predicament, Ifesinachi’s mother maintained that her daughter is still a minor and should not be seen as having voluntarily converted to Islam nor moved to Maiduguri on her own volition.
Mrs. Ani stated: “Last year, September 14, my daughter, Ifesinachi, informed me that she has decided to join the Deeper Life Bible Church. That was very close to the Easter period. She went to the Deeper Life Retreat without obtaining my consent, though she left a note for me saying I should pardon her for doing so. I scolded her when she returned for not informing me earlier. I told my pastor about what happened and he cautioned her on her change of attitude to me but asked me to allow her attend Deeper Life. I didn’t want to agree because she is under-aged and moreover, I attend the Redeemed Christian Church of God with every other member of my family. I later allowed her to be attending Deeper Life Bible Church.
Unknown to me, she was not even attending Deeper Life. She was instead, attending an Islamic conversion class through one Baba Abdul, a Muslim who lives near our residence in Apo Resettlement. When I discovered what was happening, I pleaded with the man to leave my child alone, but he refused, insisting that since the girl has begged him to teach her Islamic way of life and religion, he would just do that. When I accosted him, the second time, he said he had asked her (Ifesinachi), to obtain permission from me and that he believed she did that. It was two days after I accosted the man that the girl ran away from my residence; apparently in connivance with the man.
“Before the time I discovered she was attending this Islamic conversion class, I noticed that her character has changed and she was no longer listening to me; she would no longer take my word or advice for anything. It was after she allegedly attended the Deeper Life retreat and returned that I discovered she used that as alibi to be attending Baba Abdul’s Islamic teaching classes. I can tell you that her mentality totally changed that time; she was just behaving abnormally as if something was happening to her. Baba Abdul is from Kogi State and I don’t relate with him, so, why should he take my child and teach her anything?
“After she disappeared from my place, I reported the matter to the Apo Resettlement Police Station, here in Abuja, close to where we reside but instead of working on the complaints I made, they asked me to bring N5,000, saying curiously to me that the person I accused (Baba Abdul), is innocent and I left them. I do not have such money.
Confused and not knowing what to do, I prayed, fasted and went away and got frustrated.
“I went to Ordinary Ahmed Isa of the popular Abuja radio programme “Brekettte Family Radio” and reported this very issue, they didn’t do anything. I went to the presenters of the FRCN radio programme “Lean on Me”, met one Mr. John Chukwurah and he took me to the FCT Police Command, but they did nothing. I wrote a letter to the FCT Police Command through this John Chukwurah, yet as I speak, there is nothing to show for this effort.
“In my frantic effort to discover where my daughter could have been taken to, I gathered that my daughter received a telephone call and thereafter, left our residence and that was the end. I have not seen her up till today. It was much later that somebody showed the photograph of my daughter on the internet, now converted to Islam and adorned in hijab.
“My daughter was born on April 23rd, 2001. She will be 15 years in April this year. We are from Amaechi Awkunanaw, in Enugu State. My husband is dead. Before my daughter was taken away forcefully from me, I informed Papa Ugo, my second husband, of the ugly development; he is the immediate brother to my husband, but he refused to come over to Abuja. It was after that, that I informed one of my maternal uncles, who also lives in Abuja and he came over and advised the child, but because they had talked rubbish into her, she was not listening to anybody.
“Three days after she eloped last year, Ifesinachi sent an SMS to me, informing me that she has joined some people in Maiduguri, Borno State and is now a Muslim. I called the number with which she called me and a man picked the call and told me that what she said was the truth and that her name is “Amatullahi”. He said I should not panic and that they were training her and feeding her well. I pleaded that I be allowed to come over to Maiduguri and see her but they would not allow me do so. After two weeks, another person called me, this time, a woman with a different number, speaking unimpeccable Igbo language and assured me that my daughter is ok and well. A week later, another man who spoke only Hausa language called and also refused that I should see her or speak with her.
“Last month, I called the number again and a female voice picked the call and said my daughter was fine and healthy but that they discovered I was visiting a so-called “juju” house for my daughter and that it will not help me. She said they spent over N35,000 to pay her school fees. The telephone numbers used by my daughter’s abductors are: 08060598215, 08081170324, 07038310025. All these lines are still going through up till now. My daughter used the first telephone number to send an SMS to me and every time I call the line, someone would pick the call.
“Please, I am pleading with President Muhammadu Buhari; the IGP, Solomon Arase; the Military and other security agencies, including the Emirs and Bishops, to help me rescue my daughter. They had hypnotised her; she does not know what she is doing right now. She is under a spell. I don’t like what they are doing to my daughter or putting us into this kind of condition.
“Is it because we don’t have anybody to speak for us? I appeal to The AUTHORITY Newspapers to kindly assist me get government to rescue my daughter. The people who took my daughter are talking tough; they said nobody can do them anything and I don’t want them to succeed. Islam is not by force; They should leave us alone. My daughter is a Christian and should not be forced to convert to Islam. It is against my wish; whatever she is doing now, she is doing not of her own free will. She is under a spell. Kindly help me out”.
When The AUTHORITY on Sunday called Mr. Chukwurah, he expressed shock at the treatment of the matter by the Police, wondering why they did not want to take the issue as a serious matter.
Apart from speaking with Mr. Chukwurah, The AUTHORITY on Sunday dialed one of the telephone numbers, 08060598215, supplied by Ifesinachi’s mother and asked one of the reporters who speaks Hausa language fluently to interview the receiver. A woman picked the call. Reproduced below is the transcript of our discussion with her: Woman: Who are you?
AUTHORITY: My name is (undisclosed) from Abuja.
Woman: What do you want?
AUTHORITY: I want to know the well-being of this lady, Ifesinachi.
Woman: You said you name is (undisclosed) and you are asking of the well-being of Ifesinachi? Why do you want to know about her?
AUTHORITY: Is she alright?
Woman: She is ok. Who are you to Ifesinachi? You that is a Muslim, why are you asking about her? Are you a Muslim or you just borrowed the name and put on your neck?
AUTHORITY: I am a friend to her uncle.
Woman: You as a Muslim, are you in support that they bring her back?
AUTHORITY: (Played along) I am not in support of bringing her back, but we just want to know if she is alright?
Woman: If she is not alright, her parents could have heard of it since. You as a Muslim, don’t you know what it means for other tribes to convert to Islam? If truly you are a Muslim, you should know the reward involved in all this. Also, as a Muslim that you claim you are, do you think Muslims will allow the girl to be ill-treated or cheated? Please stop pretending, you are not a Muslim”.
Further calls put to the telephone numbers were still going through up till the time of filing this report