By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the alleged detention and torture of about 400 men and boys at an Islamic school in Kaduna state.
President Buhari has also commended the Police for the discovery of the building where the boys were detained and the Muslim authorities for dismissing the notion of the embarrassing and horrifying spectacle as Islamic School.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja on Saturday said, ‘‘In commending the police for their discovery of this horrific hub and arrest of suspected operators of the unedifying, so-called “reform institution,” the administration of President Buhari categorically condemns rights abuses whether of adults or of children.
‘‘We are glad that Muslim authorities have dismissed the notion of the embarrassing and horrifying spectacle as Islamic School.
‘‘The place has indeed been described as a house of torture and a place of human slavery.
‘‘The President holds the view that children will be safeguarded from roaming the streets and protected from all evil influences that assail idle hands and idle minds when they are sent to school.
‘‘When he inaugurated the National Economic Council for the year 2019/2023 at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, President Buhari warned that keeping children away from school is a criminal offense.
‘‘He also stressed the need to take seriously and enforce the statutory provisions on free and compulsory basic education, citing Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which he says places on all of us (public leaders and political office holders) an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
‘‘He added that “Section 2 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
“It is indeed a crime, he stressed, for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period.
‘‘While the government at the center has introduced a number of programmes, including the school feeding programme which is now in 32 states in the country, with 9.8 million children in its roll to encourage school enrolment and enhance the health and learning capabilities of pupils, State, and local governments are obliged under the law to ensure that every child of school age goes to school throughout the crucial nine years of basic education.
‘‘To stop unwanted cultural practices that amount to the abuse of children, our religious and traditional authorities must work with the federal, state and local governments to expose and stop all types of abuse that are widely known but ignored for many years by our communities.’’