From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
FROM Kano State came a troubling revelation at the weekend: alleged abduction of Christian girls and forceful conversion to Islam.
The trend was already regarded as a “regular occurrence” and Christian leaders had already resigned to fate.
That was the scenario until a national outcry over the abduction of 14-year-old Ese Oruru changed all that.
Chairman of Kano State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Ransom Bello expressed the association’s frustrations to Daily Sun and hoped that Oruru’s case will help shed light on abductions and forced conversion of Christians in the state.
Speaking in an interview at the weekend, Bello said several efforts to stop the trend failed, until the Oruru case.
Miss Ese Oruru was abducted by Inuwa Dahiru Bala from Bayelsa to Tofa Village in Kano State where she was forced to convert to Islam.
Belo said: “I think that what happened is like a vindication.
“The right thing is now being done. I say this because we have witnessed a lot of similar situations in Kano State in the past. And many a time, our efforts to return the abductees to their families were unsuccessful. We just hit brick walls.”
He insisted that abduction and conversion of Christian girls, under different guises, including the intimidation of their relatives, was a rampant occurrence in the state.
“We have pursued such issues in the past without any success. Our ladies were abducted and we had to approach the Islamic groups, for instance, the Hisbah Command, and nothing comes out of it.
“Sometimes, they keep the girl (s) with the Hisbah Command. Sometimes, they keep the girl(s) with the local chief of the affected areas, what they call Hakimi.”
Bello observed that many individuals, institutions and governance –actors, who had hastily declared their innocence and distanced themselves from the present saga, may not be speaking the truth, saying they were well in the picture of the culture of faith- based abduction in the state, but did nothing much to discourage it.
The Bishop held that, “I don’t think they are really innocent. Truth is truth. Justice must be seen to be done. How do you abduct even a daughter of a pastor? A pastor, his daughter, was abducted in Kano here and it was a tug of war ….I am not even sure how it was eventually resolved.”
He regretted that these things happen because Christians were in the minority in the state, adding that, “there was a limit to which anyone can push a matter of this nature; otherwise it might lead to religious crisis.”
“We want the other religion to understand that whatever they don’t want us to do them, they should not do it to us. I don’t think we will like to do that to any Muslim girl.
“We don’t abduct Muslim girls and then, force them into conversion. No! If you marry your wife properly, with all the consents that are needed and your wife decided to be a Christian or Muslim, so be it!
“Nobody is against any young couple getting married if they reach the age of marriage, if they are of age; but things should be done properly and, according to all the existing rules of their tradition, culture and faith.”
Bello said Christians in the state were “relieved at the turn of events as it has created a national awareness” adding that, “now that this issue has become a national issue, we have a relief that, henceforth, in any part of this country, the right things must be done on matters of the girl-child abduction.” He commended the zonal police command and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II for their response on Oruru’s abduction