Ese Oruru, the teenager who was abducted from her Bayelsa home and moved to Kano for a forced marriage to one Yunusa Yellow, would be taken to hospital on Tuesday, preparatory to her journey back home.
A security source told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday night that the police would take her for “general medical check-up” before taking her back to Bayelsa to rejoin her family.
“Despite her insistence to remain in Kano, we will surely take her back to her family,” a police source said, asking not to be named because he had no permission to speak on the matter.
“Since she is not 18, her family still have control over her. So, we will ignore her request to be left in Kano and ensure her safe return back to her family.”
He added that Miss Oruru was, as at midnight on Monday, still in the custody of Zone 1 Police Command Headquarters, Kano.
The spokesman for the zonal police office, Rabilu Ringim, could not be reached to comment for this story.
Mr. Ringim, an assistant superintendent of police, did not answer or return multiple calls and text message.
Another source in the palace of the Emir of Kano had also told this newspaper that the Assistant Inspector General in charge of Zone 1, Shuaibu Gambo, had indicated to the palace that Miss Oruru would be returned to Bayelsa on Tuesday.
Mr. Gambo could not be reached for comments on Monday night, although he had earlier in the day confirmed to the African Independent Television (AIT) that the teenager was in his command’s custody.
In an audio clip obtained exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, Miss Oruru was heard telling a security official that she was not abducted, and would like to remain in Kano.
The police initially prevaricated in taking decision on her release based on that claim, a development that irked many Nigerians.
A number of human rights activists and lawyers who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday unanimously said Miss Oruru should be reunited with her parents without delay.
Aisha Yesufu, one of the conveners of Bring Back Our Girls group, said the questions of whether she eloped with her abductor willingly or not should not even come up in the first place and that she should be returned to her parents without delay.
“As a mother, I will say at 13 years of age I don’t think she has the capacity to make those informed decisions whether to convert or not to convert and to run away from her family. In the first place what permission did he (the abductor) have to take her all the way from Bayelsa to Kano State without the parents’ consent. That is very, very worrisome,” she said.
“As a child I don’t think it was right for anybody to take her home and say she has been converted. That is coercion. She was coerced into it. She is a little girl that does not know much. She should have been returned immediately to her family,” she added.
Charles Musa, an Abuja-based human rights lawyer, said she is a minor in the face of the law and cannot make decisions for herself without her parents.
Mr. Musa said whatever she said should be ignored and that she should be returned to her parents.
“The authorities should ignore whatever she has said and return her to her parents. Legally, she cannot take a decision like that. She can only speak through her guardian. She definitely cannot say she is not going back. She is a child under the law. She has no say in the matter,” he said.
Yomi Ogunsanya, another Abuja-based lawyer, while agreeing that she should be returned to her parents also added that her abductor should be charged for kidnapping.
“The police should simply take her back to her parents and ignore her claims. She is a minor, less than 18, and only her parents and guardian can speak for her. She was taken away without the consent of her parents and she should be returned. The person who took her away should be charged for abduction or kidnapping. It’s a straightforward case,” he said.
The same point was made by Jiti Ogunye, a Lagos-based lawyer.
Mr Ogunye said by abducting her from Bayelsa to Kano without her parents’ consent, her abductor violated Section 361 of the Criminal Code Act.
“Section 361 of the Criminal. Code Act, Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, and the analogous provision in the Criminal Code Law of Bayelsa State defines the offence of abduction, and provides that ‘any person who, with intent to marry or carnally know a female of any age, or to cause her to be married, or carnally known by any other person, takes her away, or detains her against her will, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years,” he said.
Mr Ogunye said her abductor, Yunusa, should be taken to Bayelsa and made to face criminal charges in the state as the alleged criminal act originated from there.
“And of course it can be imagined or assumed that the offence of rape would have been committed against the young girl . The punishment for rape under Sections 357 and 358 of the same criminal Code Act is life imprisonment.
“Also the Child Rights Act prohibits this abduction. It must be noted that the Act defines a child as any person under 18 years. Thus, the abductor and his accomplices are liable to be arrested and prosecuted in Bayelsa State. That is where the crime originated. And although it is being consummated in Kano State, the Bayelsa High Court has jurisdiction to try the offences.
“This beast cannot escape into Kano State and seek sanctuary in that unfortunately permissible environment. The police, the Bayelsa State Attorney General, the IGP, the AGF must do their job by bringing this barbarian to justice.
“If they don’t, the parents must be assisted to bring an application for an order of mandamus against them to perform their public duty. The law must be utilized to the hilt to punish this crime. This is not another Chibok girls situation. And the moral compromise of the Emir of Kano should not deter the resolve to secure justice for the girl and her parents,” he said.
Reports say Miss Oruru was abducted from her Bayelsa home about eight months ago, and her parents, after trailing her to Kano battled for months to have her back. They did not succeed.
Her case however caught the attention of the Nigerian authorities and citizens after the PUNCH newspaper did a detailed story on the matter on Sunday.
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