300 Victims Rescued from Islamic Child Sex Slavery Ring in Nigeria
Hundreds of boys and young men found shackled in boarding school to 'learn about Koran'
Hundreds of boys and young men have been rescued from an Islamic child sex slavery ring in Nigeria, according to reports.
Over 300 victims - mostly minors as young as 9-years-old - were found shackled inside a boarding school where they had gone to study the Koran.
Police raided the Koranic school in Kaduna - dubbed the "House of Torture" by investigators - after an anonymous tip-off and found young boys, teens, and young men chained up.
Authorities say the victims were chained up and held for years where they were repeatedly raped by staff, and starved "in the name of teaching them the Koran."
The detainees, mostly children, say they have been tortured, sexually abused, starved and held against their will.
On Thursday, police raided the premises in the city where the victims were kept in "the most debasing and inhuman conditions in the name of teaching them the Koran and reforming them," a police spokesperson said.
They were pictured with horrific scars on their backs and with their hands and feet in chains after their release.
Kaduna state's chief of police Ali Janga said it was a case of "human slavery" and they raided the house after an anonymous tip-off on Thursday.
He told the BBC it was a "house of torture" with men and boys from Burkina Faso, Mali, and other African countries.
The victims, including young adults but mostly minors, were kept "in the name of teaching them the Koran" and to "learn about Islam," Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo said.
The school, which has been operating for a decade, enrolled students brought by their families to learn the Koran and be rehabilitated from drug abuse and other illnesses, police said.
The proprietor of the school and six staff were arrested during the raid.
"We found around 100 students including children as young as nine, in chains stuffed in a small room, all in the name of reforming them and making them responsible persons," Sabo said.
"The victims were abused. Some of them said they were sodomized by their teachers."
Bello Hamza, 42, told The Nigerian Tribune: "I have spent three months here with chains on my legs.
"I am supposed to be pursuing my Masters in University Pretoria South Africa.
"I got admission to study Applied Mathematics, but here I am chained.
"They claim to be teaching us Quran and Islam, but they do a lot of things here.
"They subject the younger ones to homosexuality.
"This is supposed to be an Islamic center, but trying to run away from here attracts severe punishment; they tie people and hang them to the ceiling for that, but engaging in homosexuality attracts no punishment."
He also said he has seen people die from the torture during his time there.
#Nigeria 🇳🇬: Over 300 abused students, 'mainly children in chains' freed from Islamic school.— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) September 27, 2019
'There have been pictures that show the scarrings on the children's bodies, some people say that they were forced to stay against their will' ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/X7b460QkI2
Police had been tipped off by complaints from local residents who became suspicious of what was happening inside the school.
During the raid on the school, police said they found a 'torture chamber' where students were chained, hung and beaten.
Sabo said the victims were of different nationalities and that "two of them said during interrogation they were brought by their parents from Burkina Faso."
The identities of the rescued victims were being documented to determine where they came from and to contact their families.
Parents of some of the victims from within the city, contacted by police were "shocked and horrified" when they saw the condition of their children, as they had no idea what was happening inside the school.
Parents were allowed to visit their children every three months, but only in select areas of the premises.
"They were not allowed into the house to see what was happening... the children are only brought to them outside to meet them," Sabo said.
"All they thought was their children are being taught the Koran and good manners as they looked subdued," he added.
Private Islamic schools are common in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where government services are often lacking.
The owner of the school said all they do is teach people Islam and said the allegations of torture and sexual assault are false, despite acknowledging people were in chains.
He said: "They don't do anything other than recitation of Qur'an, pray and worship God.
"Those chained are the stubborn ones who attempt running away.
"Those who don't attempt running away are not chained.
"Some were chained before and after settling down, they were freed."
They were taken to a stadium to be looked after while police make attempts to find their families.
Authorities said the freed captives will be given medical and psychological examinations.