Police have freed 15 children from an Islamic school in central Nigeria where they were kept in chains and tortured.
The children, aged between two and 10, were discovered Sunday in a ‘dehumanising condition’ at an informal Koran school in the town of Suleja in Niger state, regional police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said on Tuesday.
In the house where they were found, ‘three chains used to tie their legs were also recovered,’ he said.
It comes after a spate of raids on such institutions last year led to over 1,000 people, many of them children, being rescued.
Abiodun said signs of torture, including scars and wounds were discovered on the children when they were rescued.
He said the cleric who ran the school, Umar Ahmed, 46, was arrested during the raid.
‘The case is under investigation and the suspect will soon be arraigned in court for prosecution,’ he said.
Informal Islamic religious schools, called almajiri schools, are common in Nigeria, where there is a chronic lack of government services.
They are widely criticised for squalid conditions, poor treatment and making pupils beg on the streets.
Many also operate as so-called rehabilitation centres, for drug addicts and children with behavioral problems.
Last year, three major raids on such institutes in less than a month led to police rescuing hundreds of inmates.
Police freed about 500 men and boys from an Islamic school in Katsina, northern Nigeria in October 2019.
The men were shackled and tortured at the school where they had been enrolled by their families to learn the Koran. Many had also been sent there to be treated for drug addiction.
The news came less than three weeks after nearly 500 men and young boys were freed from the Islamic boarding school in Kaduna, around 280 miles south of Daura.