Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
For two years, Jibril Aliyu, who was suspected to be suffering from an unknown sickness, was in chains in Badariya, Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital.
His father, Aliyu Umaru Badariya, had reportedly sold off some of his belongings in a bid to gather money for his son’s medical treatment. He kept moving him from traditional to orthodox medical practitioners, but no cheering result was forthcoming.
As gathered, Umaru became frustrated and decided to keep the boy within his premises, to protect him from being stoned or hurt by members of the public if he was allowed to wander about the town.
The ordeal of this 12-year-old boy was broken by a human Rights activist who was said to have discovered the boy in chains in his father’s backyard, where goats and chicken were kept.
Daily Sun gathered that the victim, who had lost his mother two years ago, was in the custody of his father and two stepmothers. It was gathered that the victim was practically denied food, and he had to resort to feeding on the food given to the animals he was sharing the stall with. Sometimes he ate his own faeces for his survival.
But respite came to the boy recently, as the Kebbi State government took up total responsibilities for the poor boy, including his medical treatment.
The Special Adviser to Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu on Women and Social Development, Hajiya Zara’u Wali after visiting the boy at Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Birnin Kebbi had expressed shock about the bizarre story of the boy.
She said: “Really, what happened was a touching situation that has deeply touched the governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu, so much. We just heard about the boy who had been chained by his father and foster mothers, living a barbaric life.
“Governor Atiku Bagudu will never allow such an angry scenario to reoccur again in Kebbi State. It is regrettable that all this happened despite all the encouragement that the state government has been giving our people.”
Zara’u admonished the people of the state to always promptly report such unfortunate occurrences, either to the ministry or through any of the local governments across the state. She said the state government would always come to the aid of anybody in such unpalatable
“The state government is really touched and we will go to any length to ensure the logical prosecution of the suspects,” she said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Birnin Kebbi Local Government, Alhaji Aminu Ahmad Fada, who expressed shock at the incident, pledged to complement efforts by the state government to treat and rehabilitate the distressed boy , as well as see to the eventual prosecution of the
Wife of the governor, Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations in the state, have advocated the enactment of a law for the protection of the child in
The state government had, on June 22, submitted the Gender-Based Violence and Child Molestation Act to the state legislature for passage into law.
To ensure such a thing didn’t resurface in Kebbi State, the state police command had charged the father of the boy to court to being cruel to his son.
A statement by the Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) of the command, Nafiu Abubakar said the police had found the victim’s father culpable.
The statement partly read: “In the course of investigation, it was discovered that the victim, Jibril Aliyu is a patient of Down Syndrome and his father, Aliyu Umaru has admitted to have tied him with a rope because he had taken him to native doctors for medication up to the extent of selling some of his property, but all in vain.
“Instead of his father to continue with his medication, he decided to subject him to such inhumane and degrading treatment in order to prevent him from roaming about in the town, stoning peoples’ vehicles as well as injuring himself which could lead to his death.
“In the light of the above, Aliyu Umaru was found culpable of being cruel to his son and has been charged to court accordingly.”
Wife of the state governor, Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, condemned the maltreatment of the boy and concluded that the society had failed Jibril.
In her statement entitled, ‘Who failed Jibril?’ Dr. Bagudu noted: “As I watched the videos, it was clear to my trained eye he has underlying mental issues along with some physical deformities. Some reports described him as walking like an animal from the long duration of chaining/confinement. A differential diagnosis of cerebral palsy stuck. I later confirmed it was actually his “illness” and “wandering” nature that necessitated the chains, after many futile hospital
“Ironically, I had a meeting with a UNICEF child protection team the next day to examine the outcome of deliberations by CSOs in Kebbi on the Child Right Act bill. One of the main recommendations from that meeting was to rename the bill Child Protection Act. My tone through
the meeting was quite pessimistic. Here we are always having high level meetings and advocating to pass big laws, yet right in the state capital, a child with an obvious underlying medical condition is chained like a dog. It was stated in one of the videos how neighbours stared at them in disbelief as the police led away the suspects. All this fuss? For Jibril? To their minds, he is not worthy; he is after all -subhuman.
“By morning, the governor, equally bombarded, disturbed and possibly sensing more disturbance from yours truly, made some calls and took further steps, not just on how to handle the humanitarian and criminal aspect of the case, but indeed to question the social welfare system
“In another world, such a case would trigger an immediate mass self-resignation of officials involved. History will never forget the case of Victoria Climbie, the eight-year-old Ivorian girl tortured and eventually murdered in London by her aunt and boyfriend. Her death triggered a major public enquiry, changes and an overhaul of child protection laws in the United Kingdom. For us in Nigeria, this is never the case. It is just another viral story.
“So this time, why don’t we do it differently? Let’s ask ourselves some questions and face some truths. The question we should ask is, ‘Who failed Jibril?’
“Much venom has been hurled at his father and stepmothers. Can we blame them totally? What options has life groomed them with? Are they equipped to recognize the type of illness Jibril has? Did his late mother attend antenatal classes? Was Jibril vaccinated and have baby checks? They have taken him to hospitals, until they couldn’t afford to any more. I am certain prayers and traditional herbs have been tried. His illness persists. So who let Jibril down? The simple truth
is – All of us.
“Jibril has obviously been let down by his father, his stepmothers, their neighbours and the Badariya community. The Hisbah and Police that didn’t pick him up during his wanderings and save him from chains must answer to this as do the hospitals and a health system that didn’t act on his condition. A Western and Islamic educational system that doesn’t educate minds to think better of children like him is a failed one. The social welfare system and civil society organisations
that should protect children at this age has failed him. The state’s executive, legislative and judicial arms of government that ought to have protective laws and monitor the activities of employees have failed him. A Federal government meant to fund all this and more must answer to all the Jibrils out there. He certainly isn’t alone.
“All of you that forwarded and posted his pictures just as you did many other underage and abused children, disregarding and disrespecting their privacy, have failed him alongside all the others.
“And of course, the governor’s wife, always having theoretical webinars on GBV yet this happens under her watch, has failed Jibril.
“We have all failed Jibril despite knowing better and having the ability and resources to do so. Let each of us take his portion of blame and vow to do one thing differently. For now we promise to love and tend to him better. You will have to take our word for it. Because I promise you, for now, you will never see another picture of Jibril again.”