Nigerians, who read the story of the helpless minor on The PUNCH’s website on Sunday, took a swipe at the inactions of the authorities, saying the girl was abandoned to wallow in captivity.
Yinusa, a tricycle driver, took away the minor to Kano on August 12, 2015, from her mother’s shop in Opolo Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. The mother, Mrs. Rose Oruru, had gone out on the day leaving Ese and her siblings in the shop. Yinusa seized the girl in her absence. Rose’s attempts to seek the release of the girl at the Emir of Kano’s (Sanusi Lamido’s) palace, where she was reportedly kept met a stiff resistance.
An online reader, who identified himself only as Seagols, wrote, “I feel so ashamed of the Bayelsa State Police Command for saying it’s not abduction, but elopement of a 13-year-old? Shame on the Bayelsa State Government, which can’t stand for the rights of its citizen. Shame on the Emir of Kano, who allowed such injustice. Finally, how could a guy who sold his keke in Bayelsa be this powerful? Just that the police are already biased. More will unfold if only the police were to do their job.”
A commentator, Edward Owens, expressed worry and wondered, “Why is the IG of police and the National Assembly silent on this issue? It is taking too long. Why is the presidency silent on this?”
Another reader, Fineman Peters, said Ese’s case defied sanity and urged the authorities to rise up to the case and ensure that the girl was freed.
“Am I reading a true story here or some kind of fiction? I hope the VP, IG and DSS DG will pick a copy of The PUNCH and read this. What happened to us as a nation? From the word go, everybody involved in this should have been in police net. This is the most blatant state-sponsored case of a paedophile that I have ever seen. My heart is broken as I read this. Our government should be ashamed. If I was in charge of this country, heads will roll. Many heads will roll,” he wrote.
In his comment, Samuel Ogbonaya, said, “This should never happen in a country where there are laws. The laws are clear. How on earth does any sane mind accept that a 13-year-old girl has the maturity to accept to be married and her religion forcefully changed without the express approval of her parents? I thought it is the convention that parents approve their kids to be married and are believed to be the ones to hand over their children to whoever that has followed the process?”
A reader who went by the alias, Thorn in the flesh, said, “This is disgraceful to say the least. How can anyone abduct a 13-year-old girl and term that to be elopement, when the girl in question is an underaged child who certainly cannot give informed consent.”
Another commentator, identified simply as NG, blamed Sanusi and the police for playing politics with the girl’s freedom.
“There is nothing we cannot hear in this country, imagine this? Even the Emir can’t be straight on the matter; the police could not take action and get the girl out. The parents even saw the girl brought in a black SUV. Why weren’t they allowed to take the girl right away, and they were being denied access to their child, saying she had been converted to Islam. How can you marry someone’s child without the knowledge of the parents and the so called Emir and police can’t do anything about it? An underage girl for that matter.”
The Truth wrote, “A 13-year-old girl got married without her parents’ consent? May God Almighty punish Yinusa who abducted the girl, repay Lamido Sanusi for not standing for justice, punish Kano Police Command and DSS for doing nothing. They should arrest the criminal boy called Yinusa and prosecute him. PUNCH please monitor this case to the last because of the girl. Please don’t let this girl perish in the hands of these wicked souls.”
“If the Nigerian government does nothing about this, the parents and their lawyers should petition the African Union, United Nations, Amnesty International, the National Human Rights Commission, the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and all involved should be arrested, tried and jailed,” Donloke wrote.
A reader, Casca, wondered why the Emir was passive on the case despite his level of education and exposure.
“This is unjust provocation. God help us. Nigeria is a failed state. Even IG could not do anything about this too! I am disappointed in the so called Emir, after all he is educated and he understands the meaning of a pedophile,” he wrote.
We’ll probe if trafficking is established – NAPTIP
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related offences has said it will intervene in the alleged child marriage case of 14-year-old Ese Oruru if trafficking is confirmed.
The Head, Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Josiah Emerole, said the act, the means and the purpose of the abduction would show if it was trafficking.
He said, “First of all, I do not have details of this incident as of this moment. But one fact is that the issue of child marriage is always captured under the Child Rights’ Act and the Child Rights’ Law of each state. It is not necessarily within the laws of NAPTIP.
“Under the Child Rights’ Act, getting married to an underage child is a criminal offence which the police and the ministries of youths’ development can handle.
“Yes, NAPTIP can move in if the facts say it is trafficking. In trafficking, there are things to prove. It is not enough to say somebody has taken my child from a place to another place. There is what we call the act. Then, there is the means and there is the purpose. These three things must be proved before we can establish trafficking.
“But as of now, we are not aware of the incident. When it is reported and we discover the matter is not our area of investigation, we use matter referral mechanism to take it to the appropriate quarters.”
Ese’s release dependent on Emir’s intervention –IG
The Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, says the release of the 14-year-old girl, Ese Oruru, allegedly abducted from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State to Kano and said to be in the palace of the Emir of Kano, was dependent on the intervention of the emir.
Arase said this in an interview with PUNCH Metro on Sunday, adding that the delay in Ese’s release was a result of the emir’s trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj.
Sunday PUNCH had reported that Ese was abducted on August 12, 2015, by one Yinusa, aka Yellow, and taken away to Kano State where she was allegedly converted to Islam and held in the palace of the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi.
The teenager’s parents, who noted that the matter was reported at the Ekeki Police Station, Yenagoa, and to the Kwani Police Station, Kano, had said all efforts to secure the release of their daughter from the palace had proved abortive, adding that they had not been able to see her since that day.
On Sunday, the IG said the police authorities did not abandon the matter as being insinuated, adding that the release of the girl would be “sorted out as quickly as possible.”
He said, “I have just spoken with the Sunday PUNCH’s editor. I explained to her about the delay. The police command in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, actually followed up the matter right from Kano State.
“The emir decided that he was going to mediate. But, because of his trip to Mecca with the president. That was what caused the delay. But now that he is back, we are going to sort it out as quickly as possible.”
When asked how soon Nigerians should expect the release of Ese, the IG noted that it was dependent on the intervention of the Emir.
He said, “Well, that is dependent on the intervention of the Emir. We have agreed to resolve the matter. I cannot give a timeline.”
When our correspondent asked again, “Sir, you mean the release is dependent on the emir, and not the police?”
Arase said, “I have not said anything like that. Have I? I have told you I have discussed these things with the editor. You can ask her. You are starting a different line of interview.
“But what I am telling you is that we did not abandon the matter as being insinuated. We have been following it up. The issue will be resolved.”
NHRC to investigate Ese’s abduction, forced marriage
The National Human Rights Commission will likely take up the case of an alleged abduction of 14-year-old schoolgirl, Ese Oruru.
Ese was allegedly taken to Kano for a forced marriage after he was said to have been converted from Christianity to Islam.
All efforts by her parents to retrieve her even after visiting the Emir’s palace, among other places in Kano, where the girl was allegedly taken to, had yielded no fruit.
The Chief Press Officer of the commission, Mrs. Fatimah Mohammed, said on Sunday after she was briefed on the incident by our correspondent on the telephone, that Ese’s case had yet to be brought to the NHRC’s attention.
She, however, said the commission was empowered to, on its own, take up investigation of allegations involving rights violations without any official complaint by the affected parties.
“The commission is against child marriage, and nobody has the power to convert somebody to another religion. If it is true, the commission will investigate it,” she added.
When contacted on Sunday, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation said it was not aware of the incident.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the AGF and Minister of Justice, Salihu Isah, who was also informed of the incident on Sunday, said it was an issue that should be handled by Kano and Bayelsa states as well as the police in the two states.
“We are not aware of that and I think the question should be directed to the police and the governments of Kano and Bayelsa states,” Isah said.