UNDERCOVER: Inside Oyo Islamic Torture House Where Children Are Chained, Caged, Starved And Brutalised - Mc Ebisco
Latest News

UNDERCOVER: Inside Oyo Islamic Torture House Where Children Are Chained, Caged, Starved And Brutalised

Aisha could not sustain the memory of living without a mother; she tried to abscond from home again but her father caught her this time.

For four months, 17-year-old Aisha Hakeem was caged in a cell at the Ayegbami Islamic Centre in the Oremeji area of Ibadan, Oyo State. She had been enrolled in the Islamic school for rehabilitation after repeatedly disobeying her father.

Born into a broken family, her parents live separately. Aisha wanted to stay with her mother but her father would not allow her. Frustrated, she left her father’s house in Ibadan for Lagos in search of her mother. But a relative of her father saw her roaming the Lagos streets and took her back to Ibadan.

Aisha could not sustain the memory of living without a mother; she tried to abscond from home again but her father caught her this time. Her punishment for attempting to run away in search of her mother? A torture home.

“I was in Junior Secondary School 1 when my dad brought me here,” she recalled, describing how the Mualim – an Arabic word for the Islamic instructor – would appear to pass her meals in the small cell she was caged in. “He will pass the plate of food through this open space of the net and after eating, he will come to pick the plates and cup by himself.”

The Home Of Torture And Abuse

In the interior area of Ibadan city, a torture home is operated unhindered in the Ayegbami Islamic centre. Named after the founder of the supposed Islamic school, Saheed Ayegbami, unscrupulous parents seeking rehabilitation for their tough children enrol them for revival. But rather than infuse Islamic knowledge in the children, many of them — tagged petty thieves, addicts and scoundrels — are trapped in cages, chained, starved and largely maltreated “like animals”.

Venturing into the centre earlier this year, I observed that the torture home is embedded in a four-bedroom bungalow with faded paintings, broken windows and a filthy environment. Situated about 5km away from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, a rusted gate could be sighted beside the building leading to an unkempt kitchen and two small rooms with heavy urine odour. In the living room of the apartment, the teacher tends to his visitors.

At least 20 students are crammed in each of the rooms, according to undercover interviews with pupils and those familiar with activities in the Arabic school.

Residents of this area told me that students “with chains tied around their legs” in the Islamic school always beg passers-by for food. Many of the students, residents said, have become even worse after they enrolled in the torture house.

“There was a boy in this area who was doing fine before he was brought to this Arabic school, but now he has become another thing,” a resident of the area told me. “Most of the pupils there always beg for survival.”

What It Takes To Enrol Your Child In A Torture Home

On July 30, I presented myself as an elderly sister willing to enrol her stubborn younger brother at the said Islamic centre. My mission was to gain access to the torture home and it didn’t take much time before the teacher, popularly known as Alfa Ayegbami, fell for the bait. After listening to the story I had concocted to suit my posture, Ayegbami asked me and my guide to pay three thousand naira (N3,000) for the admission form.

He also told us that the rules and regulations that govern the school were stated in the white paper.

A part of the guideline pages stated how much parents or guardians willing to enrol their children must pay. The admission form is N3,000 and the acceptance fee into the Islamic school is N2,000. The feeding fee for a student below 15 years old is N3,000 weekly while a student whose age is above 15 is expected to pay N5,000 weekly.

One of the rules of the Islamic school is the compulsory presence of either the father or mother of the child before admission. Parents are urged to come and check on their children once a month. Parents are also expected to buy bathing soap and toothpaste for their children and those who want their children to have Arabic knowledge must buy them a copy of the Quran.

It is also enshrined in his rules that parents can’t visit or take students that came for rehabilitation three months after admission.

To be sure, we demanded to see how some of the tough students were chained because the child we were about to enrol in could be really hard to handle. Ayegbami then boasted about torturing some students for more than two years. He said chaining and torturing the students are designed to make their rehabilitation process faster.

“This person I am showing you is 43 years old; he used to smoke heavily before his parents brought him here,” he said as he moved us around the torture house. “The funniest thing is that he is deaf and dumb, but since he arrived in this place, his character has changed; before he was enrolled here, he used to get drunk to the extent that he would disturb the peace of the community, but now he is a changed person and has been here for two years.”

The Diabolic Rehabilitation And The Pains Of Chained Students

Feared for possessing diabolical powers, some of his neighbour