Children of Du Merci Orphanage in Kano are being forcefully converted to Islam, Graduate fellowship alleges
The Christian Graduate Fellowship of Nigeria has alleged forceful conversion of children of Du Merci Orphanage by government agents in Kano State.
It will be recalled that the founder of the orphanage, Prof. Solomon Tarfa was picked up by the police in Kano last December for running the orphanage and has since been in detention. The children were subsequently transferred to government children home.
Du Merci Orphanage is a non-profit Christian organization, dedicated to the rescue of permanently displaced orphans and vulnerable children through orphanage. Its mission according to what is stated on its Facebook page “is to restore children in Christ as we reach out to meet their physical and emotional needs, raise them to be disciples and leaders who bring about permanent change right where God planted them.
“Du Merci Orphanage is committed to helping wounded kids find their place in this world, through a blend of Christian social work, humanitarian aid and ministry. Our holistic approach begins by nurturing orphans in the cradle and ends with them becoming interdependent, contributing members of society.”
Some of the children of the orphanage have turned out to become responsible individuals in the society. One of them, Mr. Sule Joseph in a newspaper interview testified of the great work being done by the orphanage. Joseph who is now a graduate of Bayero University, Kano said the orphanage has helped a number of people to turn out well in life. He said allegation that the orphanage is illegal is false stating that all the documents and papers concerning the home are up to date.
But in a statement by the Graduate Fellowship of Nigeria on Sunday February 23, which was signed by the body’s national president, Prof Charles Adeyinka Adisa and Barrister Offiong Effiong Bassey Offiong, the body alleged that Tarfa is being illegally detained by the Kano State Police.
The statement notes that Tarfa has spent two months in detention and yet to be released in spite of injustice and lies of the Kano State Police Command.
But what seems to irk the body more is the alleged forceful conversion of children of the orphanage.
According to the statement, “the children of the Orphanage were forcefully removed from their home and transferred to a government orphanage called Nasarawa Children’s home in Kano. They are being maltreated, maligned and coerced to convert to Islam.”
The group observes that apart from the fact that the children’s health, physical state and psyche are being damaged, “they are also being affected psychologically and spiritually. School aged Children who were previously in school are being denied education.”
The graduate fellowship reveals further, “For the past four days there has been this feud between the kids from Du Merci and that of the government orphanage Nasarawa. Threatening words like, “You do not belong here, We, Muslims and you Christians cannot live together as it is an abomination.” are said to the children by children of the government orphanage.
“This continued till yesterday evening (February 22) at about 4pm when their mother got a call that there was a fisticuff between some of the children and theirs. What happened? One of the girls that has been abusing and threatening Du Merci kids fell into a well and one of the boys laughed. The girl picked offense and struck him on his head with a mop stick. Paul, the boy she hit started crying and Blessing one of the older girls from Du Merci Orphanage came to his rescue challenging the right she has to touch her younger brother
“The other girl got angry raining insults on Blessing, that the Du Merci children’s prayers are affecting them and accused them of witchcraft. The staff at Nassarawa home separated them, informed the director and commissioner of women affairs. The commissioner said she’ll be with them in the morning. At about 12:30pm on Saturday 22nd February 2020, it was reported that the commissioner was around and wanted to see the older ones among the Du Merci children. She invited them for a talk.
“At about 2:13pm one of the children who is 16 years old called to report that Michael, one of the Du Merci Orphanage children forcefully taken to the government owned orphanage was being beaten by the officers and the Commissioner was physically present when this physical abuse was taking place. At about 3.15 pm another caller reported that the children have been taken back to Nasarawa home and their phones were confiscated.
“So, we asked for a break-down of what happened and Michael gave his testimony of all that transpired. He said the Commissioner asked where he would go if he was to be set free. He said home. Which home, she asked again and he said Du Merci. She asked which of the Du Merci homes? Kaduna or Kano? He said Kano. She told him Du Merci is illegal. Michael said it’s not true that the case is in court so Du Merci is not illegal.
“One of the officers challenged his answer, asking if he meant the commissioner was lying he said probably insisting they all do not like where they were being kept. We want to go back home. How can you claim to rescue us yet we do not have our freedom. Not one of the children have been to school. The place is unhygienic. So we hate this place and I know my right”. That statement got her angry. He said she almost wanted to inflict more damage on him, then the officers held him and started slapping and hitting him.
“Then, his phone was collected and all audio records he made was deleted and wiped out. He was forced to unlock his phone which he did. Shortly after, the phone locked and they asked him to unlock again he insisted he wouldn’t. The officer threatened to re-format the phone. Michael replied the phone is his personal property the officer has no right to tamper with anything on it. This happened on 22nd February 2020”
Bothered by what is transpiring in the new place the children are being forcefully kept, the graduate fellowship then called on well-meaning Nigerians and Government to put an end to the abuse of these children by the Kano State Police Command and the Government of Kano State. “This is contrary to our constitution which enshrined Freedom of association and freedom of choice of faith.”