The Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir, has denied the alleged abduction and forceful marriage of 17-year-old Habiba Isyaku.
Emir Kabir made the denial during a meeting with the Katsina branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Thursday in Katsina.
The emir, represented by one of the king makers, Nuhu Abdulkadir, the ‘Kauran-Katsina’, said it was the Commissioner of Police who sent the matter to the palace for resolution.
He said the girl embraced Islam on her own volition.
According to him, the father of the girl, Isyaku Tanko, had petitioned the police that one Jamilu Lawal had abducted his daughter, converted her to Islam and married her without their consent.
Mr. Lawal is said to work in the palace of the Emir Kabir.
The Emir said that during investigation, the palace discovered that Habiba embraced Islam on her own volition.
He said that the girl had indicated her interest in marrying Jamilu, who is from the same area with her, and that the Emirate Council married her to her heartthrob, who paid N50,000 as dowry.
He said the palace interviewed the girl to ascertain if she was forced to accept Islam, and she said no, and declined following her father home.
The Emir further said that the father of the girl had written an apology to the palace after discovering that he had made wrong accusations to council, and showed the letter to journalists present.
In his remarks, the Katsina State CAN Chairman, Nelson Onyekachukwu, said the palace should always contact CAN in the state on such matters.
‘’We should be given time to go home and discuss with the parents and Kankara CAN branch on the matter and report back to the palace,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Tanko had told a news conference organised by Stefanos Foundation in Abuja on Wednesday that Jamilu had admitted to abducting his daughter.
He said that his daughter would be 15 years old on Saturday, and that she was kidnapped from her school, Government Senior Secondary School, Kudun Kankara, Kastina State by one Jamilu Lawal.
He also said that she had been forcefully converted to Islam and married off by the Emir without her parents’ consent.
“My little girl was abducted on the 16th of August, 2016, from her school. After my investigations, I discovered that Jamilu Lawal, who lives in the same community, was responsible for my daughters’ disappearance.’’
He said that he had lodged a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Police in Kastina, and that he had also gone to the palace to retrieve his daughter but his mission was unsuccessful.
“On arrival at the Palace, the Emir informed me that my daughter has been converted from Christianity to Islam henceforth.
“There is no longer any relationship between me and my daughter and we can no longer inherit each other. He further informed me that he has received the sum of N50, 000 as dowry from Jamilu Ibrahim for my daughter.
“Therefore, he will give her out in marriage in accordance with Islamic rites and injunctions.
“He accused me of defaming him at the Police Station and I was threatened, intimidated and coerced to sign an apology drafted on my behalf in his Palace.
He appealed to well-meaning Nigerians and those in authority to help assist him to secure the release of his daughter.
On his part, Mark Lipdo, the Programme Coordinator for Stafanos Foundation, an NGO, said that the organisation intervened in conflicts.
“We have been trying to intervene in the conflicts going on in Nigeria; we believe in the human rights of all citizens and encourage that fundamental rights be upheld at all times to maintain a sane society.
He noted that Habiba, who had just completed her Junior Secondary School with very good grades, had much prospects.
He said the foundation had petitioned the Inspector General of Police with a view to securing the girls” release but had yet to get a response.
“The girl is a minor and things like this have to stop happening in this country because if it continues, people are going to resort to self-help,’’ Mr. Lipdo said.