-By Motunrayo Joel and Peter Okuego
Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force have rescued three teenage girls, who were abducted in Bauchi State and forcefully converted to Islam.
The Prison Inmate Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, handling the matter, told one of our correspondents that the girls were handed over to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 12, Bauchi, Mr. Tunde Ogunsakin, on Tuesday, by the Shari’ah Commission in the state.
Blessing Gopep, 13, was abducted by two men identified as Iliya and Umaru, both living in Alkaleri, Bauchi State.
Blessing and her friend, Mary, were on their way back to Jos after spending their holidays with Blessing’s uncle in Bauchi in August, 2015.
Her father had said Blessing and Mary had gone to the Alkaleri motor park, and while they waited on the bus for other passengers, two men, identified as Iliya and Umaru, arrived at the park on a motorcycle and abducted Blessing.
On November 19, Linda Christopher was abducted by one Mallam Shagari in Tarsha Durumi village, while Progress Jacob, 13, was abducted by Mallam Musa in the Yelwa, Sabon Kaura area, both in Bauchi State, on her way back from church on January 3.
According to Ms. Gobet, Progress’ aunt, the teenager went to church on the morning of January 3, 2016 and did not return when the church was presumed to have closed at about 10.30am.
She was allegedly abducted in the Yelwa, Sabon Kaura Area of Bauchi State by one Mallam Musa on her way back from church, which is said to be a few metres away from her aunt’s residence.
The distressed aunt said she reported the case to the traditional ruler (Seriki) of Sabon Kaura as well as the Yelwa Police Station, which only took her statement and directed her to inform them when she found Progress.
She added that all efforts to locate the ‘missing’ girl proved abortive until a letter was delivered to her from the Bauchi State Shari’ah Commission, informing her of Progress’ conversion to Islam.
Sixteen-year-old Linda, a secondary school pupil in Enugu, was seen with one Mallam Shagari at Tarsha Durumi village in Bauchi State on November 19, 2015.
It was learnt that Linda had left Enugu four days earlier to join her parents, who lived in the Katanga Giwa village of Bauchi.
Her parents were notified of her whereabouts by a kinsman, who knew the family.
Just like the Jacobs, her parents got a letter from the Shari’a commission, notifying them of their daughter’s custody and her conversion to Islam.
The Commissioner of Police, Bauchi State Police Command, Mr. Baba Tijjani, has confirmed the release of the girls.
“Now, they have been produced. Progress Jacob and Linda Christopher have been released to their parents while Blessing Gopep’s parents have been told to come tomorrow (Wednesday) and they will go home with their daughter.”
When asked if the case would be treated as a criminal case and the culprits prosecuted, the police commissioner said, “We just released the girls to their parents. The investigations are still ongoing and we will come out with the details after the investigations.”