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InKatsina Emirate denies abduction of 14-yr-old girl, forced marriage

The Katsina Emirate has been caught up in an alleged abduction and forced marriage of a 14-yr-old girl.

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The Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir, has denied allegations of abduction and forced marriage of one 14-year-old Habiba Isyaku.

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The Emirate made the declaration during a meeting with the Katsina branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Thursday, October 13 in Katsina.

Represented by one of his kingmakers, Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, the ‘Kauran-Katsina’, revealed that the case had been sent to the palace by the Commissioner of Police for resolution, adding that the girl embraced Islam on her own volition, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Kabir said that the father of the girl, Isyaku Tanko, petitioned the police that one Jamilu Lawal had abducted his daughter, converted her to Islam and married her without his or his family's consent.

According to the Emir, the police discovered that Habiba joined the religion of her own free will.

The Emir said that during the investigation, the police discovered that Habiba embraced Islam on her own volition and that Habiba indicated interest in marrying Jamilu, a wish which was granted by the Emirate Council and that N50,000 was paid as her dowry.

He explained that the teenager was interviewed by the palace to find out if she was being forced to accept Islam, to which she said no.

Also, Habiba's father reportedly sent a written apology to the palace, admitting that his accusations against the council were wrong.

The letter was reportedly shown to the journalists present at the meeting.

Speaking at the gathering, the Katsina State CAN Chairman, Rev. Nelson Onyekachukwu, said that the palace should always contact CAN in the state on matters such as this.

‘’We should be given time to go home and discuss with the parents and Kankara CAN branch on the matter and report back to the palace,’’ he said.

On Wednesday, October 13, Tanko told a news conference organised by Stefanos Foundation in Abuja that Habiba was abducted by Jamilu, adding that his daughter would be 15-year-old on Saturday, October 15.

He said that she was taken from her school, Government Senior Secondary School, Kudun Kankara, Katsina State

Tanko alleged that Habiba was forcefully converted to Islam and married off to Jamilu without the consent of her family.

“My little girl was abducted on the 16th of August, 2016, from her school. After my investigations, I discovered that Jamilu Lawal, who lives in the same community, was responsible for my daughters’ disappearance.’’

Tanko said that he lodged a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Police in Kastina and attempted to retrieve his daughter from the palace, all to no avail.

“On arrival at the Palace, the Emir informed me that my daughter has been converted from Christianity to Islam henceforth.

“There is no longer any relationship between me and my daughter and we can no longer inherit each other. He further informed me that he has received the sum of N50, 000 as dowry from Jamilu Ibrahim for my daughter. Therefore, he will give her out in marriage in accordance with Islamic rites and injunctions.

“He accused me of defaming him at the Police Station and I was threatened, intimidated and coerced to sign an apology drafted on my behalf in his Palace," he said.

Tanko went on to appeal to the general public and security agencies to assist him in retrieving his daughter.

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Mr Mark Lipdo, the Programme Coordinator for Stafanos Foundation, an NGO, speaking on the issues as well as similar cases, said:

“We have been trying to intervene in the conflicts going on in Nigeria; we believe in the human rights of all citizens and encourage that fundamental rights be upheld at all times to maintain a sane society. He noted that Habiba, who had just completed her Junior Secondary school with very good grades, had much prospects. He said that the foundation had petitioned the Inspector General of Police with a view to securing the girls” release but had yet to get a response.

“The girl is a minor and things like this have to stop happening in this country because if it continues, people are going to resort to self-help,’’ Lipdo said.

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