The father of a 16 year old Igbo girl has raised an outcry on the forceful conversion of his daughter into marriage. Vanguard tells the heart-rending story that may yet expose other such atrocious cases of young Christians girls kidnapped, brainwashed and kept captive by northern Muslims…
When in October 2014, Vanguard interviewed Mr Ndubuisi Nicodemus on the alleged forceful conversion of his daughter, Ifeoma, to a Muslim, he was not sure if he did the right thing. As Sunday Vanguard was about to publish the interview, he called to beg that his family was under the threat of being killed, hence we should not go to press with it.
Meanwhile, the successful removal of Ese Oruru from his abductors has given him the courage to cry out. ifeomaIfeoma, renamed Aishat, according to the father, left home in May 2014. Aged 16, she was said to be going to SS3 when she left her parents and four siblings to live in a Muslim community 21 months ago in protest against the authority of her moth er to question her for returning late to the house that particular day in 2014. Her father told Sunday Vanguard, way back in 2014, that he was at home in Zaria where he lived with his family when a man came to inform him that his daughter had converted to Islam and was now bearing Aishat.
The father, 44, from Ebonyi State had relocated from Abakaliki to Zaria in 1992. According to him, he had observed some strange behaviour in his daughter three months before, but thought it was a phase in her life that would pass. “l observed that my daughter changed character about three months before she left home. She became very aggressive over little things unlike her because l had warned her about the kind of friends she kept who were mostly Muslims but she would not listen” .
The father lamented, “I sensed that she was under a spell because l knew my daughter and how she used to behave until she practically changed, but it didn’t cross my mind that her change of behaviour had any link to any other religion, apart from the one she was brought up with. We brought her up in a Christian home and taught her the tenets of Christianity”
“They charmed my girl. Even when l go to her, she says she doesn’t know me. All she does is she’s supporting them now. She practically left home to stay with Muslims. She takes permission to come and visit us, her family”.
Recounting how it all began, Nicodemus said: “It all start ed in May (2014) when she came home late and her mother scolded her. She then left the compound for our neigh bour’s place. We live among the Hausa who are majorly Muslims. So, we learnt that one Abdullahi took her to Mallam Khalil who worked with Ahmadu Bello University in Samaru. The next thing we heard was the conversion of our daughter to Muslim.
“When we approached Khalil for the release of our daughter, he told us she had traveled to Sokoto. We reported the case to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Zaria, and they wrote to the Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State and the Dept of State Security (DSS) for assistance. The Police Commissioner, Shehu Umar, sent some of his men to Zaria, to ensure that the girl was released t us.
“But on getting to Zaria, the man (Khalil) had gone to the Sharia court in Zaria to obtain a court order, granting him the custody of the girl. This order was granted without the court consulting her biological father. “Later, 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.
“Now when we approached the school in Kaduna alongside CAN representative, the authorities told us to go and get a written request to that effect because there was a written order from the court before our daughter was admitted. The school later appealed to us to come and take our girl because she was giving them problem. But we need the court order to do that.
“Even with the intervention of the Commissioner of Police , the court refused to order her release and, instead, transferred the case to Upper Sharia Court in Zaria.“For more than a year now, we have not set our eyes on our daughter. We are against this injustice that keeps our child in the custody of another man.
“We call on the authorities, including Kaduna State government, to come to our rescue. They have aborted our daughter’s education. She has also been kept incommunicado as we no longer hear from her. She remains a Christian and not a Muslim as they claim. She is just a 16-year-old girl and that makes her a minor. I want my daughter back so she can continue her education.”
Ifeoma’s mother, Agnes Nicodemus, corroborated her husband’s story. She alleged that her daughter was said to have been married out to a Hausa-Muslim without their consent.
“I was told that our daughter has been given to one Hausa boy as wife without our consent as parents. I was made to realise that the boy is working inside ABU though I don’t know whether as a staffer or not. This is modern oppression and slavery.” Agnes went on,
“We have been doing everything we could legally. You can imagine how you will feel as a mother when your child is missing. But my daughter’s case is different be cause, for more than a year now, she has been in the custody of another man. No contact, no phone call. This is rather unfortunate.”
The police, through its Kaduna Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Zubair Abubakar, confirmed the story but declined to comment further, saying: “You know the case is still in court and I’m not permit ted to comment until the court decides.”