From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
IFEOMA, now Aisha, is the daughter of Mr. Ndubuisi Nichodemus. She was living with her parents, in the midst of the Hausa community in Zaria, Kaduna State, until May, 2014. On that fateful evening, Ifeoma had left the house in protest against the authority of her mother to question her for returning late to the house on the day.
She simply walked out of her parents’ compound into a neighbour’s house, and since 21 months ago to be precise, the family is yet to set their eyes on her.
Ifeoma, now 16, Saturday Sun learnt, might have been converted to Islam, even as her mother disclosed that she gathered reliably that her daughter had been married off. This was the story, told to our reporter in November last year.
Since then, nothing happened. But by last week Wednesday, apparently following the public outcry over the abduction of Bayelsa-born Ese, Mr. Nichodemus was sighted at the Police Command headquarters, in Kaduna. However, neither the Police nor Mr. Nichodemus, was forthcoming on what transpired last Wednesday.
The only thing he told Saturday Sun when pressed further was that “the situation remains the same. Nothing has changed, as my daughter is not back. The Sharia Court handling the matter keeps adjourning the case and as a result, we are still where we were last year”
Speaking during an interview then, Ndubuisi Nichodemus, resident of Sabon-Gari, Zaria, Kaduna State, who appealed to the authorities concerned, to help rescue his daughter, allegedly in the custody of another man since 2014, said her daughter had come home late on that fateful day and felt, as responsible parents, she should be scolded. They did, and the girl ran into a neighbour’s house.
Thereafter, he said the girl claimed she had renounced Christianity for Islam as her preferred religion, which made one of the neighbours simply identified as Abdullahi to take the girl to one Alhaji Shehu Khalil, who train new converts into Islam. This is even as Ifeoma’s biological mother disclosed that she heard reliably that her daughter has been given out in marriage without her knowledge and consent.
According to Nudubuisi, “it all started in May (2014) when she came home late and her mother talked to her. She then left the compound to our neighbour’s place. We lived in the midst of Hausa who are majorly Muslims. So, we learnt that Abdullahi has taken her to Mallam, Khalil who work with Ahmadu Bello University, at Energy Research here in Samaru. The next thing we heard was the conversion of our daughter to Islam.
“So after we approached him for the release of our daughter, he told us she had traveled to Sokoto. When we reported the case to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Zaria, and they wrote to Commissioner of Police Kaduna State, Directorate of State Security (DSS) for assistance, the Police Commissioner, Shehu Umar, sent some of his men to Zaria, that the girl should be handed over to her biological parents.
“But on getting to Zaria, the man has gone to Sharia Court in Zaria to collect a court order, granting him the custody of the girl. This was granted without consulting her biological father.
“So, we were told that our daughter had been moved from Zaria to one school called Da-rul Islam in Kaduna where new converts are usually taken to. This attitude is capable of igniting religion crisis in the State. We have been in Zaria for more than three decades without having any issue with anybody.
“Now when we approached the school in Kaduna alongside the CAN representative, the school told us to go and get a written clarification to that effect because there was a written order from court before she was admitted. The school later appealed to us to come and take our girl because she was given them problem. But we need court order to do that.
“Even with the intervention of the Commissioner of Police that the girl should be released to us, the court refused to release her and instead transferred the case to upper Sharia court in Zaria.
“In fact, for more than a year now, we have not set our eyes on our own daughter when we are still alive. We are against this impunity that our child will be in custody of another man when we the parents are alive.
“The whole episode had even forced us out of the former house where it all started. We are hereby calling on concerned authorities including the State government to come to our rescue. They have aborted her schooling. She has also been kept incommunicado as we are no longer hearing from her. She remains a Christian and not a Muslim as they claim. She is just a 15-year-old girl and that makes her a minor in this case. I want my daughter back so she can continue with her education.”
But Ifeoma’s mother, Angnes Nichodemus’ view was completely different form her husband’s. She alleged that her daughter was said to have been married out to a Hausa Muslim without the consent of her parents.
According to her, “I was told that one Hausa boy has been given my daughter, a minor, as wife without our input as parents. I was made to realise that the boy is working inside ABU here in Zaria, though I don’t know whether as a staff of the school or not. This is rather modern oppression and slavery.
“We have been doing everything we could legally. But from the way it has been, it shows we are not one Nigeria. You can imagine how you will feel as a mother when your child is missing. But my daughter’s case is different because for more than a year now she is being in custody of another man. No contact, no phone call. This is rather unfortunate.”
When contacted through his mobile telephone, the man at the centre of the allegation, Alhaji Shehu Khalil, was not ready to give much details on the issues raised.
Instead, he just said “How did you manage to get my number? Who said he has his daughter in my custody? Well, I don’t know anything. You can come to Zaria I don’t know anything because I cannot talk to you on phone.”
The Police on its part, through its Kaduna Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Zubair Abubakar, confirmed the incident but declined to comment further, saying “you know the case is still in court and I’m not permitted until the court decides.”