Victim tells of living in ‘torture house hellfire’

A survivor of the Nigerian “torture house” raided by police has described being there as “living in hellfire”.

“If you are praying they will beat you. If you are studying they will beat you,” Isa Ibrahim, 29, told the BBC.

Nearly 500 men and boys were rescued from the building in Kaduna, which was being used as an Islamic school and correctional facility.

The police said it was a place of human slavery, with many detainees found in chains.

Some of the victims had been tortured and sexually abused, the authorities say.

The BBC’s Ishaq Khalid, who visited the school in northern Nigeria, says there are concerns that similar abuse may be occurring in other such institutions.

Many families in this mainly Muslim part of the country can’t afford to send their children to school and those that can often enroll them in poorly regulated Koranic schools like this one, he says.

Seven people, including some teachers, have been arrested. The government says it will investigate other schools.

Mr Ibrahim said he was sent there two weeks ago by his family, apparently to “correct his behaviour”.

He said he had tried to escape the day before the police arrived.

He described being chained up to an old generator and also being subjected to a particularly cruel punishment, known as “Tarkila”, where his hands were tied up and he was left hanging from the ceiling.

“I have many injuries. Almost all parts of my body have injuries,” he said. “Even if you are sleeping – they’ll use [a] cane to wake you up.”

He said he had been starved and was only given plain rice to eat. People kept at the centre “lose all of our energy”, he added.

Children as young as five were among those rescued from the school, which is believed to have been operating for several years. Most of the men and boys in the school were from northern Nigeria but two were reportedly from Burkina Faso.

The Daru Imam Ahmad Bun Hambal facility was supposed to be an Islamic school, as well as a correctional home for children and young people with behavioural problems. But there were clearly far darker things going on behind its walls. -BBC

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