Nigerian police free 259 people from Islamic institution

Wednesday 6th November 2019 09:16:12 in English News by Xafiiska Hargeysa
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    Nigerian police free 259 people from Islamic institution

    Nigerian police free 259 people from Islamic institution

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Nigerian police free 259 people from Islamic institution

Nigerian police have freed 259 people from an Islamic rehabilitation centre in the southwestern city of Ibadan, police said on Tuesday, taking the number rescued from abusive institutions since September to nearly 1,500.

Images from local TV station TVC taken after the captives were released showed a group of mostly young men and teenage boys. Many were emaciated. An infant was also among the group.

"We eat one meal a day," freed captive Olalekan Ayoola, told TVC, saying the food was not fit for a dog to eat.

Nigerialaunched a crackdown on informal Islamic schools and rehabilitation centres in late September after a man was refused permission to see his nephews at one institution and complained to police.

Many captives have said they were physically and sexually abused and chained up to prevent them from escaping.

Other sites raided in major police operations have been in the mostly Muslim north of the country. Ibadan is in the southwestern state of Oyo, which is predominantly Christian.

Oyo state police spokesman Fadeyi Olugbenga said the facility was raided on Monday at about 2pm (13:00 GMT).

"Yesterday, 259 persons were released. We had women, men and teenagers," Olugbenga said. Some people were locked inside a building and some were chained.

Olugbenga said nine people, including the owner of the centre, had been arrested and were under investigation.

Oyo's commissioner of police, Shina Olukolu, told reporters on Monday that anyone found culpable would be prosecuted to "serve as a warning to others who may want to operate such houses that serve as illegal detention centres".

Spokesmen for PresidentMuhammadu Buhari, who ordered the crackdown, and the vice president both declined to comment.

The president's office issued a statement in October that said: "No responsible democratic government would tolerate the existence of the torture chambers and physical abuses of inmates in the name of rehabilitation of the victims."

Islamic schools, known as Almajiris, are common across the north of the West African country. Such schools have been dogged by allegations of abuse and accusations that some children have been forced to beg on the streets.

At other raided facilities, some parents thought their children were there to be educated and even paid tuition fees. Others sent misbehaving relatives to Islamic institutions to instil discipline.

Muftau Adamu told TVC his parents came to collect him from the centre in Ibadan but were told they must pay one million naira ($3,270) first - and never came back.

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Several killed in attack in southern Thailand's Yala province

Attack by unknown assailants on checkpoint in Muslim-majority province kills 15, wounds five more.

A separatist armed campaign in southern Thailand has left about 7,000 people dead since 2004 [Tuwaedaniya Meringing/AFP]
A separatist armed campaign in southern Thailand has left about 7,000 people dead since 2004 [Tuwaedaniya Meringing/AFP]

At least 15 people have been killed in an attack on a security checkpoint inThailand's Muslim majority south, including a police officer and many village defence volunteers, according to an army spokesman.

The incident late on Tuesday was the worst single attack in years in a region where a separatist campaign has killed thousands. The attackers, in the province of Yala, also used explosives and scattered nails on roads to delay pursuers.


Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the army, said on Wednesday that "twelve were killed at the scene, two more died at the hospital and one died this morning". Five others were wounded, he told AFP news agency, adding that the attackers took M-16 rifles and shotguns from the checkpoint.

"This is likely the work of the insurgents," he told Reuters."This is one of the biggest attack in recent times."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however, as is common with such attacks.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the perpetrators must "be brought to justice", according to Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich.

A decade-old separatist campaign in Thailand's largely ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat has killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004, says Deep South Watch, a group that monitors the violence.

The population of the provinces, which belonged to an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand annexed them in 1909, is 80 percent Muslim, while the rest of the country is overwhelmingly Buddhist.

The region is under martial law, heavily policed by the military and sometimes staffed with trained civilian volunteers, with residents and rights groups accusing them of heavy-handed tactics.

Yala province

Some rebel groups in the south have said they are fighting to establish an independent state.Police, teachers and other government representatives are often targets of the violence.

Authorities arrested several suspects from the region in August over a series of small bombs detonated in Bangkok, the capital, although they have not directly blamed any armed group.

"Since 2004, these attacks have intensified. They’ve become much more coordinated and larger in nature,"said Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok.

"There are several groups operating there, and the largest one is called Barisan Revolusi Nasional or BRN. They are believed to be behind most of the violence in the south. They say their motivations are torture, human rights abuses carried out by the military, which operates with impunity in the southern provinces."

In August, BRN told Reuters it had helda secret preliminary meetingwith the government, but any step towards a peace process appeared to wither after the deputy prime minister rejected a key demand for the release of prisoners.

Tensions also spiked rose in the region in the south over allegations that32-year-old Abdullah Esormusor, a Muslim man, was beaten so badly during military interrogation that he fell into a coma. He later died of his wounds.

The army has said there is no proof of torture.

Mara Patani, an umbrella group representing some factions of the armed rebels, has called for international intervention after the Abdullah case - a request rejected by Thailand's army.


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Will Yemen's southern peace deal really help end the war?

It remains to be seen if agreement to halt infighting in the south means a broader peace is on the horizon, experts say.


The signing of an agreement between the internationally backed government of Yemen and aUAE-supported southern separatist groupmarks an important chapter in the multifaceted war in Yemen, but analysts say it is unlikely to bring a merciful end to the conflict.

The peace deal is an attempt to put an end to infighting between PresidentAbd- Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government and its rival, theSouthern Transitional Council (STC) headed by Aidarous al-Zubaidi.

Al-Zubaidiis the current governor of Aden and has pushed for secession of southern Yemen and the establishment of an independent state, similar to the one that existed before unification in 1990.South Yemen, a Soviet-allied state, existed between 1967-1990.

While Hadi's government and its Saudi patrons battled theHouthirebel group that controls most of the north - including the capital Sanaa - the STC controlled Aden, the main city in the south. The UAE fully withdrew its forces last week and Saudi troops moved in.

The UAE-backed STC and its militia began fighting Hadi's forces for control of the city in August and seized Aden after weeks of combat. The infighting rocked the Saudi-Emirati military coalition targeting the Houthis since they took over most of the country in early 2015.

One of the main components of the agreement is to absorb STC's militia and integrate fighters into the forces of the ministries of defence and interior. Hadi's government will also return to Aden and equally share power with STC officials.

"It's a joyful day in Saudi as the two sides come together," Saudi Crown PrinceMohammed bin Salmansaid at the signing ceremony."This agreement will open a new period of stability in Yemen."

But some analysts are sceptical about the peace initiative.

Southern trap?

From the perspective of Hadi government, ending the southern conflict with its rival was an important step in keeping Yemen intact and dealing with the Houthi rebels.

However, the government strategy is "hopeful at best", said Said Thabet, a Doha-based analyst on Yemen.

By entering into such agreement with the STC, Yemen's government is legitimising its rival and giving it a voice in deciding "the unity or dismemberment" of the state, he said.

"This strategy will backfire entirely because the STC is not interested in unity at all. And because of this agreement, the STC will find itself in a position to create the political conditions to establish its sought-after South Yemen state," Thabet told Al Jazeera.


Gamal Gasim,a Yemeni Americanprofessor of political science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan,said the divisions in Yemen reflect the conflicts in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on one hand and Iran on the other.

"Unfortunately for Yemen, all of the warring groups and militias in Yemen are pawns of this or that country in the region," he said.

Gasim said the STC will not be an easy partner in Hadi's government given its ultimate goal is to break away from Yemen and establish its own state. Meanwhile, Hadi, a former army general and a southerner himself, intends to keep Yemen unified.

Houthi negotiations?

But that said, the strategic objective of the agreement could boil down to two plausible scenarios in the minds of the Saudi and UAE leadership, according to Gasim.

Unifying the warring allied factions can strengthen the coalition's hand in battling the Iran-aligned Houthis, which have scored several military victories against Saudi forces in northern Yemen in recent months, he said.

"The other option is to maintain this alliance and use it to strengthen the Saudi-Emraiti political positions in possible negotiations with Iran and its Houthi clients," Gasim told Al Jazeera.

Thabet said dividing Yemen would create two vassal states - one beholden to Saudi influence in the north and the other under a UAE patronage in the south. He argued this type of scenario for Yemen was inevitable.

"Such eventuality will ultimately benefit both Saudi Arabia and the UAE in keeping Yemen perpetually weak and divided, which has been their ultimate goal all along," said Thabet.

Meanwhile, the people of Yemen will continue to suffer through the devastating four-year war - dubbed the world's worst humanitarian disaster by the United Nations.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter:@ali_reports

The growing human cost of the war in Yemen


The growing human cost of the war in Yemen