The Muslim Community of Oyo State has warned Governor Seyi Makinde against the demolition of the rehabilitation centre located at Ojoo area of Ibadan, the state capital.
Naijaparry had reported last week that state Police Command raided the rehabilitation centre and rescued over two hundred people in the centre over alleged maltreatment. Also, the governor during a visit to the centre the next day ordered the demolition of the torture house.
Speaking on the demolition order, Chairman of the Muslim community, Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni, insisted that the centre has been there for over 50 years and it is registered with the government as a rehabilitation centre, contrary to the claims by the Police and the state government, that it was operating illegally.
Sanni said, “I cannot talk for Kaduna. I don’t live in Kaduna. I don’t know what has happened there. But for Olore, that place has been there for over 50 years and it is registered with the government as a rehabilitation centre. It is possible they [owners of the centre] have been a little ruthless or crude in the way they treat the inmates but one thing is clear: there is not a single person in that place that was not brought there either by the parents or the guardians.
“It is when they [children] go haywire in their behavioural patterns – whether they become drug addicts, armed robbers, area boys or whatever – and the parents are not comfortable that they are brought to that Olore rehabilitation centre.
Sanni, while speaking further maintained that it is the parents of the inmates that brought their wayward children to the centre for rehabilitation and not that the operators pick them on the streets as claimed by some individuals who have commented on the issue.
“If the government, or the police, do a thorough investigation, they will find that even there are non-Muslims brought in there by their parents. And a lot of them, after staying for some time there, become refined, you know, good members of the society. Some of them [people who had been inmates at the centre] are now medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers and so on and so forth. Even if need be, one can point to them. And some people are even making arrangements to come together as alumni and do a press conference to show that they were reformed at that place.
“I am not saying that maybe they have not gone into excess in the way they [the inmates] are being treated ‘inhumanly’, but for the government or the police to go to the extent of saying they would demolish the house of Olore, which is part and parcel of the rehabilitation centre, I think, it is going too far and I am sure it will not go down well with the Muslim community. They have different sections there.
“Some of these boys and girls are very violent and so they [the operators of the centre] need to go the extra mile to chain them in order to get the rehabilitation done. And they do a lot of spiritual activities in terms of praying for them and the rest of it so that they could get them to become good and patriotic citizens of the country. Some of them, like I have told you, have become in terms of manner; they have made success stories of their lives. So, I don’t think they should throw away the baby and the bathwater. It is a different scenario from where they say they [the inmates] are being raped and whatnots. That place is a real rehabilitation centre that is using the Islamic touch.
“There might be certain things that are inhuman and that kind of stuff but, so the government should just come in and make sure that they reorient them so that the excesses that are being committed, I am not too sure, I have not been there, would be corrected. But the issue of saying the government will demolish or eradicate that centre, I don’t think, is in the best interest of the society at large. Those inmates will say anything because they don’t want to be there. It is like a prison yard, and somebody who is in prison, if he has a way of escaping would escape. So, they can say all sorts of things that they are being maltreated but it is a real rehabilitation and reformation centre as far as the Muslim community is concerned. That is our position.
“That is why I said they might have been too crude in taking care of them [the inmates] and those are the excesses that should be corrected and not to completely annihilate that structure and the whole idea of the rehabilitation centre.
“I want to add that the parents [of the inmates] pay. If you take your wards there, you have to pay for them to be fed. There should be a real investigation of what is going on there [at the centre]. The government should not take a harsh decision. That place also houses the wives and children of the owner of the place.
“I have seen the photographs of some of the inmates that look over haggard. These are the corrections they need to do. We all know that even policemen, when they catch criminals, they do some torturing in order to get information or get them to admit to what they have done. And that is exactly what I say; that there are some of the inmates that are very violent and part of the reformation is to also treat them harshly so that they can behave”.