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Now that Aisha is Chioma

The joy in the heart of Aisha’s mother is no doubt boundless. The return of the daughter she thought she had lost forever is a cause for great happiness any day. But her happiness is tainted by one thing. Aisha has returned to her as Chioma, a young Christian girl with barbed hair, who speaks fluent Igbo and probably sings church choirs like a pro.

She understands little or no Hausa at all and has forgotten how to practice any Islamic religious rites. The task before Aisha’s mother is more daunting than that of the mother of a newborn, who has to be taught everything because in her case it’s a child who has to be changed in every way.

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Of course, Aisha’s mother is only one of nine women faced with the same problem. They are the female parents of the famous Kano 9; the nine children recovered from kidnappers and human traffickers in Anambra state last week.

What makes their situation so painful is that after suffering sleepless nights and agonising days trying to find their kids, the children that finally returned to them are virtual strangers. These parents will need the best part of a decade to reorient their recovered kids in the ways and value system they were born into.

But the pathetic part of this story is the almost deafening silence from those that should be raising hell over it. Where are our emirs and sheikhs that people are caught red-handed trafficking our innocent children, some from the age of two (the first child for whom the Anambra based trafficker Madame Ebere paid N150,000 was a two-year-old kidnapped from Kwanar Jaba ward). Others were aged between five and six at the time of their abduction and were mainly taken while on their way to or from Islamiyah school, or when visiting relatives away from home.

Yet, we are yet to hear the kind of noise and unapologetic solidarity all kinds of opinion leaders rendered to Ese Oruru, when of her own accord, she followed her Kano boyfriend home and insisted on marrying him. Though Ese was a 14-year old whose letter of appeal to Yinusa Yellow exposed her as begging him to take her away because she couldn’t live without him, she was still made to look like the innocent victim of a kidnap and forced marriage/conversion to Islam.

The southern press and leaders of thought spared no one in their insults and blame game, over what she did of her own free will.

Today we have the case of young children who, by the admission of their abductors, were kidnapped and sold to a trafficker at the cost of N200,000 per child. And yet we haven’t heard much from our emirs, sheikh’s and other leaders of thought. The only exception here being the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, who condemned the act and called on security agencies to intensify the search for the remaining 47 children still said to be in captivity down south.

Apart from this, it’s only the raging battle on social media, about the brazen and heartless assault on our society and values that this kidnapping, conversion and trafficking represent, that’s giving the matter the attention it deserves. We are yet to hear any official reaction from those that matter in Kano.

The Coalition of Northern Groups CNG has issued a statement condemning this audacious crime against humanity and the Arewa Consultative Forum also followed suit a few days later, insisting on a proper probe of the matter. But surely this is not enough when viewed against the gravity of the crime committed.

And it is only when such important voices are raised and enough noise is made that an offence of this magnitude will not be swept under the carpet. Otherwise influential members of the trafficking gang (those who are paying millions to collect such kids from Madame Ebere and take to Lagos) can very easily pay whatever it takes and get these criminals released from custody.

If they succeed that will be the end of the matter because when the right amount changes hands in this country, all kinds of cover-ups can be created to end the story.

For now, our security agencies must put all hands on deck to find the remaining missing kids and remain in hot pursuit of other members of the trafficking ring.

The Kano state government must give the necessary support to the parents of these recovered kids to enable them to rehabilitate and reorient them back to their culture and religion.

Aisha, who talks like and believes she’s Chioma must be made to know her roots and what the truth is about her existence before she ends up with a mental crisis over her identity. This applies to the other eight kids. To achieve this successfully the government must provide the necessary psychotherapy care and assistance these kids need.

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