Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)has asked the Federal Attorney General Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Director General of National Anti-Human Trafficking Agency (NAPTIP) Fatima Waziri- Azi to ensure the immediate release from captivity and forced conversion to Islam of the 14 year-old Miss Esther Duniya.
Besides HURIWA has promised to sponsor a bill in the 10th session of the National Assembly to specifically criminalise the frequent capture of young Christian virgins in parts of North West of Nigeria and their forced conversion and marriage by local traditional and Islamic leaders which the group calls modern day sexual enslavement.
HURIWA has also reminded the Kaduna State governor and the State’s Attorney General that if their offices fail to free the 14-year-old Esther Duniya from the alleged sexual slavery and forced conversion to Islam, the duo can be dragged to the International Criminal Court in the Haque Netherlands for this specific crime against humanity.
Specifically, HURIWA through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko has alerted the National Assembly of the alleged abduction from school and forceful conversion to Islam of the 14 year old Esther Duniya.
The Right group stated that information made available to it is of the fact that this 14 year old Esther Duniya is currently living under Islamic captivity since 5th of April 2023 allegedly by the village head of Doroyi (Sarkin Doroyi) in Ikara local government council of Kaduna State and is allegedly under the illegal custody of the Hakimin Makarfi, in Makarfi local government area of Kaduna State.
HURIWA is calling on NAPTIP, THE OFFICE OF THE Attorney General of the Federation, Kaduna State governor Nassir Elruffai, Kaduna Attorney General, the Senate’s and House of Representatives Committees on public petitions to immediately, swiftly and comprehensively investigate these allegations, and put mechanisms in place to release this hostage and arrest, prosecute and sanction any person indicted for involvement in this modern day sexual slavery if proven.
“We are alerting the Nation based on a petition sent to us from Kaduna State in which the Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) said it is saddened to bring to the notice of the public the continuous systematic persecution of the Northern Christians of Nigeria. Among many of the painful occurrences is the recent abduction, forceful conversion and the abuse of Esther Duniya, an SS1 new Student of Government Secondary School Danlawal Ikara, Ikara LGA.
The group stated in a letter to HURIWA that Miss Esther Duniya is 14 years old and was born on the 29th of April 2009. She is from Magamia Dama Kasuwa of Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State. Two factors resulted to her relocation to Ikara, Ikara LGA of Kaduna State to live with her aunty Mrs. Esther Danjuma: the first is the insecurity which affected her village and the second is the health challenge she is battling with. Her aunty whose name is Esther also, took her to stay with her to treat her with local herbs since her father, a very ill person too, cannot take care of her as expected.
HURIWA affirmed that it was informed that when she started responding to treatment, her aunty thought it wise for her to continue with her education, which was on hold for a while due to the health challenge. While the treatment continues, on 10th March, 2023 Esther was enrolled at Government Secondary School Danlawal Ikara, which was very close to where she runs her restaurant business.
“As Esther continued to attend her classes, on the 5th of April 2023 she left for school in the morning but couldn’t return home. Esther’s Aunty started looking for her that very day but couldn’t find her. The following day, she was alerted by someone who saw Esther in the house of one Mallam Sani Danmeyamma Danlawal. On reaching the house, his daughter by name Mansura, which happens to be Esther’s classmate, confessed that Esther came to her house to help her wash her clothes, but afterward, she left the house. When the matter was reported to the Village head of Danlawal, he summoned and questioned the said Mansura, who later confessed that Esther was taken to Dorayi to the house of one Aisha Basiru.”
On hearing this, Esther’s Aunty left for Dorayi in search of Esther, and on reaching there she received the shocking news of her life by one Badeyi Bala who claimed to be a Policeman and one Alhaji Lawal who is an aid of the village head of Dorayi (Dogarin Sarkin Dorayi). The Dogarin Sarking Dorayi admitted that one Aisha brought Esther to him to convert her to Islam which he did and because of that together with the said Badeyi Bala who claims to be a policeman said that Esther is with them and they will not give her back to the parents since they have now converted her to Islam. When the parents insisted on the return of Esther, these two staff of the village head refused and even threatened their lives.
Tje petition further asserted that “In view of the threat they received and the refusal for Esther to be returned back to them, Esther’s Aunty went and reported the matter to the Kunkumi Police Station and thereafter the matter was transferred to the Makarfi LGA Divisional Police Station. Instead of handing over Esther back to her family, the Makarfi Police Command handed over Esther to the Makarfi District Head (Hakimin Makarfi). Esther’s aunty together with some CAN officials of Makarfi LGA went to see the Hakimi on the same matter but refused to grant them an audience. The same Hakimi handed over Aisha to Daawa, the Islamic group in charge of converting and indoctrinating muslims converts who are now boasting and threatening to convert even Esther’s Aunty.”
The same matter was taken to the Zaria Police Command by the same Muslim group to gain the support of the Police, because the Zaria Police Command ignored justice and decided to scold Esther’s Aunty for insisting on the release of her Daughter. Monday 1st May, 2023, Esther’s biological father, Mr. Duniya, despite his health challenge, risked his life to go and see the Hakimin Makarfi, instead of listening to him, together with the Daawah group threatened to convert him also. When they brought Esther to see him, she was crying and wanting to follow him, but Hakimi said that he would not return Aisha to her Parents. She will stay with him for one month until she finally decides to speak of her intention publicly to remain a muslim.
The group in the petition received by HURIWA afirmed as follows: “We as Christians understand and appreciate the need for peaceful co-existence among the Christians and Muslims of Kaduna state and even Nigeria as a whole, which is why we the Hausa Christians Foundation, on behalf of the Duniya’s Family decided to write to the Nigerian Government, the Nigerian Police Force and all the relevant laws enforcement agencies to ensure the safe release and return of Esther Duniya back to her family.
From experience, our Christian girls that are usually abducted and forced into Islam are usually raped, abused sexually, physically and psychologically and even forced into marriage, which we are afraid that such have happen to our Sister Esther.
Knowing fully well that Esther is still a minor (just 14 years old) and cannot make decision for herself, we are calling on your good sense of justice, to intervene into the matter, and to see that, Esther Duniya is re-united back with her family and continue with her education which is paramount. This can go a long way in promoting the peaceful co-existence between these people of different faith in their community, Kaduna state and Nigeria in general.
We will continue to reject such evil doings and advocate for justice and respect for human rights and dignity across board.
We therefore call on all Christians the World over to be praying for the Christians in Northern Nigeria. The persecution is surging and unbearable; from deliberate abduction, forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage of our young Christians Girls through the help of the Islamic traditional rulers, to the displacement of several communities and kidnapping of many others for ransom even as the petition was dated May 5th 2023.”
Calling for her immediate freedom, HURIWA reminded the relevant bodies that with the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC or “the Court”), the international community expressed its will to put an end to impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes.
The Rome Statute codifies the broadest range of sexual and gender-based crimes in the history of international law, explicitly proscribing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and any other form of sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Gender is also defined and included as a basis for the crime against humanity of persecution.
“As the body responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) plays a key role in implementing the Rome Statute’s provisions and securing accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes. In accordance with this mandate, during her nine-year tenure, the ICC’s second Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has made the investigation and prosecution of these crimes a key priority.”
HURIWA is therefore calling on the Federal Attorney General, NAPTIP and the National Assembly to free this 14 year old girl put under sexual slavery or else these officials and all others would be dragged before the ICC bearing in mind that in the 1993 and 1994 respectively, the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), explicitly included ‘rape’ as a crime against humanity. The statutes also recognise
“outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault” as war crimes. Various forms of sexual and gender-based violence, such as mass and systematic rape, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy and sexual slavery formed the backbone of the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia on Bosnian Muslims and Croats in 1995.
“The Rwandan genocide consisted of Hutus targeted and brutal sexual attacks, primarily on Tutsi women, due to their intersectional identities of gender and ethnicity. For this reason, the provisions in the two statutes were of immense importance”.