- Security agents in Kaduna state have arrested an Islamic cleric who camped 500 Almajiri in Zaria
- Aliyu Maikwari, the cleric, was keeping 17 girls in the midst of hundreds of boys
- Maikwari claimed he was keeping both girls and boys in his custody to teach them the Qur'an
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A new dimension to the Almajiri system has been discovered in Zaria in Kaduna state, Daily Trust reports.
Legit.ng gathered that an Islamic cleric, Aliyu Maikwari, was found to be keeping 17 girls in the midst of hundreds of boys he claimed were from Kebbi state.
According to the report, following a tipoff two weeks ago, the Kaduna state government, through the ministry of human services and social development, stormed the cleric's mud house cum Qur’anic school, where he camped about 500 children, including the young girls, who are between the ages of 8 and 10 years.
It was gathered that the cleric had tried to resist arrest and that it took the efforts of security agents from the state’s Operation Yaki to detain him and evacuate 327 children, including the girl.
The remaining children, according to government officials, had escaped during the operation. But it was learnt that they have started returning and would equally be transported to Kebbi.
At the time of the arrest, there were indications that the cleric had kept the children in poor living conditions, not minding their different sexes.
The commissioner for human services and social development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, explained that like other Almajiri pupils who, for lack of accommodation, sleep in uncompleted buildings or open places, the children were exposed to several diseases, especially malaria, and often did not have anyone to take them to hospital.
The newspaper reported that Malam Maikwari had claimed he was keeping both girls and boys in his custody to teach them the Qur'an.
“To him, there is no difference between the boys and the girls because, according to him, they were brought to learn the Quran,’’ the commissioner said.
Malam Maikwari has been detained by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and he would be charged to court by the state ministry of justice.
Hajiya Hafsat told Daily Trust that all the 327 children, including the girls, were handed over to the vice-chairman of Soro local government area of Kebbi state, where they hail from, adding that the cleric would be investigated and prosecuted.
The commissioner said it was unfortunate that the cleric had kept young girls in the midst of male Almajirieven at a time of increasing rape cases in the state, lamenting that the girls may have been subjected to sexual assault.
“Keeping those girls amounts to abuse and neglect. This is because the children had to go out to look for food and we are not sure of their safety,” she said.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state said the Almajiri system ended in his state.
It was reported that Governor El-Rufai said the Northern Governors Forum, an association of state governors in the north, collectively and unanimously decided to put an end to the Almajiri system.
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