From Molly Kilete., Abuja
Could you tell us how your daughter disappeared from Bayelsa?
On August 12, being a Tuesday, after we took our breakfast, I went to the market, from where I went to visit one of my relations. By the time I returned home, one of my children was angry and complained that Ese, who went out in the morning had not returned and that she left the house at about 11 o’clock that fateful day. I asked him whether he beat her and he said no. I asked if they had a programme in church and he said no. At that point, I began to get worried and wondered where Ese must have gone.
Initially, I thought she had gone to church because they usually go to our neighbour’s church even though we are Anglicans, and I don’t stop them. I then asked him to go and check inside the house if she was sleeping and he did but came to say she was not there. From that point I decided to go and look for her myself. As I was going, one of my daughters told me that they saw the carpenter lying in front of his shop since morning and that Yinusa, who usually came between 12 and 1pm to buy Banga soup from their buka had not shown up that day. At that point, I decided to go and ask the carpenter, for the telephone number of Yinusa and he told me Yinusa does not have a phone and that he usually come to beg him to use his phone to make calls. The carpenter asked me why I was looking for him and I told him that I wanted to charter his Keke, and with that I left his place and went to another shop that he usually patronise to ask for him.
When I got there, I asked the owner of the shop, who happens to be a Yoruba woman about Yinusa, and she told me he was not there but that his Keke, had been parked all day. She asked why I was looking for him and I told her I wanted to charter his Keke. After a second thought I decided to open up to her that I was looking for my daughter, Ese. She asked what Ese had to do with Yinusa, and I told her Yinusa had disappeared since morning and my daughter was nowhere to be found.
When I left her shop, I went to the mosque where the Hausa boys usually gather to look for Yinusa. They were praying. I decided to wait; I waited for about two hours and got tired and left. I later sent one of my children to go and call one of them. He saw one Mohammed and invited him to my place. I asked him about Yellow and he revealed that he had sold his Keke and travelled to Kano. He was the one who told me that Yinusa, took my daughter along with him and told him he was going to convert her to Islam and marry her.
My husband wanted to go and report the matter the police that day, but they begged him not to. I later took her picture to all the police checkpoints in Bayelsa, pleading with them to arrest her if they set their eyes on her. I also went to all the motor parks to distribute the photograph.
How did you travel to Kano?
I made arrangement for them to take me to Kano, but they said it would not be possible until they heard from Yinusa. Two days later, they called to confirm that he has arrived Kano and that we could travel the next day. The person who saw him and my daughter said he asked my daughter what she was doing in Kano, and he said she didn’t know that it was Yellow that brought her there. I then reported the matter to my husband and he got so angry and blamed the incident on my food business, which has caused and Hausa boy kidnapping his daughter. He said if not that I was selling food, the boy would not have had any access to the girl. My husband wanted to go and report the matter to the police that day but they begged him not to.
Before we embarked on the journey to Kano, we were told that the matter has been reported to the chief of the town and they asked me to look for N20, 000 for the trip. They said that N6,000 will take me to Kano, another N12, 000 will take me and my daughter back to Yenagoa, while we keep the remaining N2 ,000, for feeding and local runs. I got the money and embarked on the trip.
What happened in Kano?
When we arrived Kano, I had to spend the night in the house of the boy that took me there, because we arrived very late in the night at past 12 midnight. The next day, we proceeded on the search for Ese. Before we arrived Kano, I had received a call from my daughter, asking me where we were and I told her we were close to Abuja. She advised me to stop at Abuja and spend the night with my sister, as according to her, they would kill me if I came to Kano that night. She said they had taken her photograph and converted her to Islam and wore her the hijab because the emir, Sanusi, promised them that anybody that brought a Christian girl from another state and converted her to Islam would be rewarded with money, given a house, jeep and earn a salary, among other goodies. She said all the people were celebrating with Yinusa. Still on our way, the man who was taking me to Kano got a call and told me it was Yinusa, but that I should not mind him.
In Kano, in the morning, I asked him to take me to the parent of Yellow, but he said we would first go to the house of the chief and that when we get there the chief would hand over my daughter and we would leave Kano the next day. When we got to the chief’s house, the boy narrated why he came with me and the chief was so angry and started abusing him. I knew he was abusing him because he spoke little English and Hausa. At that point, I got on my knees and pleaded with him to help me because my husband had driven me out of the house, asking me never to come back until I produced his daughter. He called me useless woman and asked which child did I keep here, that my child has been converted to Islam and I will never see her again.
While we were there, the other Hausa boys, who had stayed in Bayelsa, on hearing the matter, came there to meet me because I was good to them. They made inquiry on how we could get to the emir’s palace and the chief gave us two telephone numbers. When we got there, one of the soldiers on duty, in front of the palace, saw my desperation, as I was trying to call the telephone number given to us. He approached me and asked what I was doing there and after explaining to him, he took pity on me and said I cannot access the palace from the front gate, that I should go through the back, which I did. When I got inside, an elderly man walked to us and asked the boy that came with me if he was the one from Bayelsa, and he answered yes. He then asked why he brought me to Kano.
I knelt down to beg him to help me recover my child, that she was only 13. He said it was not possible and that even if I must see her, it had to be on Monday. Before I knew what was happening, young men started to gather in their large number. I started running. They came after me, hitting me and abusing me. They could have killed me. While all these was going on, one God-sent man drove into the palace and rescues me. He called the police and they sent one of their patrol vans to the scene immediately.
After rescuing me, they took me to the Kwani police station, close to the palace. I told them my story; they handed me over to the DCO of the station. At the office of the DCO, they took my statement and took it to the DPO. The DPO, on getting the report, then drafted some policemen to the palace. They did not allow us to enter and before we knew it, people started trooping in; so the policemen sensing danger put me back into the vehicle and drove off back to the police station.
At the police station, the DPO, them decided that since the matter seemed to be getting out of hand, we should go to the palace of the Galadima. On getting there, they told us he was sleeping and that we cannot see him.
From the Galadima, we went to the adviser to the emir’s place and we were again told that he was sleeping; so we decided to go back to the station. On our way, they called to say the Galadima had woken up and that we should come back. When we returned, the policemen told him why they were there, but he drove us away, saying he was not aware of any case of a girl in the palace.
On leaving the Galadima, we went to the secretary’s place; that was about seven o’clock in the evening. When we got there, they were praying; so we had to wait and after the prayers, he asked why we were there. The policemen told him and he said he was aware of the matter but that there was nothing he could do because he was traveling and promised to act on it when he returned. It was him that now promised that we should go and come back on Monday and that they would bring the girl on that day.
From there we went back to the police station and I was advised not to go back to the village, where I slept because I would be killed. I then pleaded with them to allow me sleep at the station until Monday since I didn’t have any relation in Kano. They said I cannot stay there because the irate youths may come and burn down the station that I should look for a hotel to spend the weekend. However, one of the policewomen offered to accommodate me, so I went with her and stayed with her till Monday when we agreed to meet at 10 in the morning.
On Monday, I went back to the station from where some policemen took me to the palace. On getting there, we saw that the whole place was filled with youths, who abused us openly and threatening to attack us. When the police could no longer tolerate the situation, they took me back to the police station and promised to go back when the emir got to the palace. We returned to the police station. They later called to say the emir had arrived the palace and that we should come back. This was at about one o’clock in the afternoon. At the palace, one jeep came with my daughter. There were also two policemen in the vehicle and the chief of Tufa, with another man. The two policemen took my daughter inside.
Inside was Yinusa, and my daughter, who they Aisha. They did not allow me inside. The DCO went in and later stormed out in anger, saying he cannot tolerate a situation where the mother of a child would not be allowed to interfere in a matter that concerns her and where she cannot be allowed to go with her daughter. At this point, tension in the palace got very high; so they quickly pushed me into the car and drove off back to the police station. At the police station, the DCO reported back to the DPO and then said with the way the matter was going, he would have to refer me to the state CID. We then proceeded to the state CID, and they took the letter and the statement and said since the case happened in Bayelsa, I would have to come with police personnel from the Bayelsa state command before they could commence investigation. So they advised me to go back to Bayelsa.
What was you daughter’s reaction when you finally met this week?
She was happy to see me. She recognised me and stood up to greet me when I entered the room where she was kept.
Did you notice changes in her behaviour?
I have not noticed anything like that yet because we have not really interacted. The only thing is that she asked me about her brothers and sisters back home. She is really looking forward to going home.
When did you leave Bayelsa on Tuesday.
We left Bayelsa at about nine o’clock in the morning of Tuesday.