The existence of illegal torture homes, which masquerade as rehabilitation centres across the country, is deplorable. Not less than six of these illegal homes were uncovered and their owners apprehended in Katsina, Kaduna, Kano and Kwara states in the last two months. In all of them, hundreds of victims, mostly young boys and girls were put in confinements and chained to the spot. All the victims manifested signs of torture and abuse.
The maltreatment of the inmates of the illegal correctional homes has elicited national outrage. Many Nigerians have condemned the evil acts of the proprietors of such homes. Following the development, President Muhammadu Buhari has enjoined the Nigeria Police Force to raid such illegal centres anywhere they exist throughout the country. Therefore, the police should spare no effort to shut down these torture homes across the country as the president has directed. We believe that the phenomenon of torture centres in the country is not new. What is not in doubt is that these centres might have been tolerated for so long by some Nigerians, including the security agencies. Indeed, as the confessions obtained from the home owners in some of the busted torture homes revealed, many of them had existed side by side with residential homes and businesses for years, unhindered. So, even if the latest government intervention may be considered late, it is better late than never.
It is puzzling that these so-called rehabilitation centres have operated for long without being detected by security agents. Many of the rescued victims confessed to being beaten persistently by their minders, denied food and proper care. Several video footages of the said homes revealed horrible images of brutality, with bodies laced with wounds and torture marks.
The excuse the owners of the homes provided for their cruelty was that the victims were brought to them by their family members and that they needed to cure them of their mental and drug-related ailments. Moreover, some of the victims were sexually molested and violated.
We condemn the proliferation of these mindless rehabilitation centres across the country. We also decry the inhuman treatment meted to the inmates of such horrible homes, all in the guise of rehabilitation. We enjoin parents to be wary of such homes and stop sending their children or wards to such torture chambers. It is sad that many of the so-called rehabilitation centres have pretended to offer religious education and moral instruction to the inmates. Their claim to be correction centres or reform homes is farther from the truth. We say this because there is no rehabilitation centre that tortures its inmates as part of its reform process. Therefore, it is worrisome that the owners of the illegal rehabilitation homes have used religion as an excuse to violate the human rights of their inmates despite that such rights are fully guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
Even if many of the victims found in the homes confessed to drug addiction and mental illnesses, many of them ended up far worse than they went into these savage homes. Therefore, the operators of the illegal homes and their collaborators should be apprehended and prosecuted. And anyone found guilty must be severely punished to deter others from toeing the evil path. No effort should be spared to bring all those involved in this devilish act to account. Since some of the victims are from neighbouring countries such as Niger, Chad and Mali, the Federal Government must get in touch with their home governments for their repatriation and rehabilitation. No doubt, they need good medical attention at this point in time, which we believe their home governments should avail them.
At the same time, we urge the Federal Government to ensure that the Nigerian victims of the rehabilitation homes are rehabilitated before being allowed to rejoin their families and the larger society. The police and other security agencies should strive to uncover other illegal rehabilitation homes in the country, dismantle them and bring their operators to justice. Since the security and welfare of the citizens are major reasons government exists, the Federal Government must ensure that the life of every Nigerian matters.