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Not even in Hammer House of Horror

Yes, not even in the scary thriller series of the 80s, Hammer House of Horror, was so much evil concentrated in one place. Sodomy, cannibalism and cultism all under one roof. And worst of all, they were being perpetrated against such a vulnerable group of victims. In fact doubly vulnerable because they were not only children but children living with disabilities too.

Like someone asked before me, how did we get here? Yet, this is the real-life horror tale that came out of the government-run school for the deaf at  Kuje in the FCT. I first came across this story about a fortnight ago when the Minister for Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, inaugurated a committee to look into allegations against the school brought by the mother of a pupil enrolled there. Though I was shocked by the contents of the mother’s petition to the minister, as briefly quoted in the news story, all I could do was pray that the committee will do a good job of unearthing the truth about the matter.

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But a few days ago, the testimonies of both the mother of the young victim, whose name was given as Imran, and his grandmother were aired on a popular radio show ‘Brekete family’ and that left Nigerians in shock and disbelief that some people can be so cruel and inhuman towards small, disabled children; for the simple reason that they were left in their care.

A good Samaritan, one Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, transcribed the radio testimony and circulated it widely on social media; and what most of us read afterwords kept us both disgusted and angry.

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The victim’s grandmother, Hajiya Salamatu Abubakar Maina, gave a comprehensive account of what her grandson went through. In her own words: “Imran was born deaf and with heart defects. He was operated upon when he was two years old, and thankfully, he started growing. While in Kaduna, before he was moved to Abuja, he attended Demonstration School for the Deaf and Islamiyya for the Deaf, Anguwar Sarki. He was doing very well and was passionate about his education. He was even leading prayer at the assembly. I employed one of the teachers to teach him extra lessons, so he could pray all the Muslim prayers and when the school saw that, he was the one saying prayers at the assembly hall. He spent just one term at the school before leaving for Kuje.

“On the day the school closed, the mother went to pick him. Normally nobody is allowed into the premises until after the PTA meeting. She went there at 8am and the meeting ended around 1pm. As soon as they got home, other family members were arriving for the holiday, so the house was busy. He tried to demonstrate something to me, but I didn’t give him enough attention. While in Kaduna, his mother and I attended special lessons with him, so we could communicate with him in sign language. Two days later, I washed his clothes and arranged them neatly in his school box. He likes wearing socks around the house. He went to take the school socks and I said, ‘no, everything here should be kept in the school box because we might travel and when we come back late, you will be returning to school and we don’t have to go about looking for your things for school.’ He said, ‘No, I will not be going back to that school.’ I asked why; he said he would die if he should return. He started demonstrating how when they slept at night, they were woken up, tied and sodomised. He said they did it many times to him, that it was painful, blood came out of his anus and his back was paining him and his head too.

He also said they took them out at night to somewhere. Only boys and men were there, no women. He said their leader is tall and also climbs on top of something to address them. He said they kill people in his presence. He demonstrated three ways they kill people–they turn the head, they cut the throat or they put the head on the table and severe the head. Then those killed were roasted. He demonstrated how the leader wore gloves and used a knife and a big fork to cut the roasted human flesh and the boys with their hands tied to the back forcefully fed with human flesh. He said anytime they brought it near him, he would start vomiting and they would hit him. He counted six times. They tried to feed him and he kept vomiting and they kept hitting his head. Back in the school, he tried to tell the class teacher but he was threatened, they said they would kill him if he mentioned it to anyone, having witnessed how they had killed some people, he was afraid to tell anyone.

“I was personally visiting him every two weeks since we took him to that school because I was worried about his health. Imran doesn’t eat much. He doesn’t like pepper. The school didn’t feed them early. They serve them breakfast long after 10 am, so we provided Golden Morn cereal and milk for him. He also showed us a part of his arm that is now black. He went to the cupboard and brought out a syringe but he said the one used on them was bigger, that they used that to draw blood from his hand into a cup and handed it over to the leader who drank it.”

Dr Hannatu Ayuba Usman, Imran’s mother, continued the story.

“Using sign language, he told us that the leader ordered that he should be taken away because he kept vomiting each time they tried to give him roasted human flesh. He was subsequently hit with a plank with a nail that missed his right eye narrowly. The leader took him and swirled him around severally and flung him away. He hit his head against the wall and started crying. He said it was then his ‘school father’ who witnessed the ordeal took him back to the hostel and laid him on the bed. According to him, whenever they were in pains and crying, a certain solution is poured into a handkerchief that was pressed to their noses and they would sleep off. In the morning, the school father took him to the sick bay to see the nurse and told the teacher a lie about a fight, claiming that a retarded boy who was not happy that Imran touched his socks with his dirty hands hit him on the forehead with a belt knuckle.

“The teacher, worried, had called to tell me about the incident, assuring me not to worry that Imran has been taken to the sickbay and was being treated. But when my son came back he debunked the lie. He said he was injured at that place because he refused to eat human flesh……… I asked if he was the only one that was so tortured, he said all the boys were being molested and they would be crying and that blood would be pouring out from their anus. We took him to the hospital and the doctor that examined him at the family medicine department confirmed that he has healed fissures in his anus.

“Now, when he sleeps, he has faeces in his pants. He shows it to me every morning and I tell him to go wash it. He can no longer chew with his teeth because his jaw aches. Even bread he cannot chew. Just one term that this boy spent in this school, now the doctors say he must undergo surgery in his anus. We have been told to do an MRI scan on his head. One can imagine what he is going through now. Parents of the children in that school are mainly poor and cannot communicate in sign language with their children as we can.”

According to Hajia Maina: “He told me that a day before we visited, the school father had cut his own finger and was bleeding, and had given him the flesh to eat but he refused. In one of the pictures I took during my visit (because I try to build a memory album for him), we noticed the school father was trying to shield his hands from us. Whenever we went to check on Imran, they would drug him. Parents complained that each time they visited, they were made to wait for an hour and a half before their children are brought to them. With Imran, we noticed when he appeared that he was always looking dreamy. We thought he was improving because Imran is very hyperactive. We thought he had been tamed. We didn’t know he was drugged. These people fooled us.”

This obviously disturbing tale of cruelty and depravity, leaves us with no choice but to call for the maximum penalty that cannibalism, sodomy and persecution of minors invites in our criminal justice system. Cultists always seem tocfins a way to escape the law in our country, because many cases of people arrested for cultism always seem to vanish in thin air. Maybe it’s true that they are so well connected that influential people are always at hand to bail them out but this must not be one of them.

The case at the Kuje school for the deaf must be pursued to its logical conclusion, the perpetrators must be prosecuted and penalised accordingly.

This is the only way the horror and depravity of this magnitude can be stopped for good.

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