The abduction and forced child marriage story of Ese Oruru, which is increasingly gaining traction on social and mainstream media, is a clear reflection of the level of development that Nigeria, as a country, has attained in terms of the practices of its judicial system and law enforcement agencies. The latter in this case being the Nigerian Police Force, to be specific. However, from a related spectrum, it also shows the socio-cultural evolution of most Nigerians, some of which are currently calling the Nigerian government out for its incompetence in addressing the issue.
In August last year, Ese Oruru (only 13 years old at the time) was taken from her mother’s shop in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, by a keke (tricycle) operator known as Mr. Yinusa aka Yellow. According to reports, Yinusa took Ese to Kano State, converted her to Islam, renamed her “Aisha” and subsequently married her. The conversion and marriage took place in the palace of the Emir of Kano, former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Following the incident, Ese’s mother, Rose Oruru, attempted to recover her daughter from the Kano State authorities involved in the matter, but her efforts proved futile and Ese allegedly still remains in the custody of the Emir. Human rights lawyer, Ebun Adegboruwa, calls the shocking incident a “clear case of child trafficking” and “a worse form of corruption.” Problems that the lawyer says are “becoming a serious issue of national concern.”
Other highly-placed individuals in the Nigerian society have also condemned the act. They, along with the multitude of Nigerians showing concern both on social and mainstream media, have named the Emir of Kano and the Nigerian Police Force as the primary culprits in the unthinkable act against Ese and her family. This is how the aforementioned parties are to blame for the emergence of #FreeEse and other related hashtags presently trending on social media.
The Bayelsa State Government
The crime involving Ese Oruru, Yinusa and the rest of Nigeria, took place between two states that are 826 kilometres apart. According to commentators, the Bayelsa state government should be ashamed for its inability to stand up for the rights of its citizen, who also happens to be a minor in this case.
Additionally, the southern state is predominantly Christian, which calls into question why someone from Bayelsa, where the Sharia Law has no credence, should be forcefully converted to a religion while the state government – and the Nigerian Federal Government – remain silent.
Nigeria Police Force/Inspector General of Police
Reportedly, the reaction of the police force in Bayelsa State to Ese’s abduction was a claim that the 13-year old had, in fact, eloped with her captor and there was thus, no cause for alarm. While child marriage remains an unpleasant feature in some Nigerian cultures, Ese’s case is evidently not even in the same league as the practice, given her age and inability to give proper consent to the manner in which her ‘marriage’ took place.
The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, is being severely criticised for his silence in the child abuse, abduction and rape of Ese, as posited by Adegboruwa, who is asking for his immediate intervention to secure Ese’s release from captivity. Apparently, the top police officer in the country awaits the intervention of the Emir of Kano – whose response was delayed by a just concluded trip to Mecca – in the matter, before he can make any move.
Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi/Kano state government
Lamido is being accused of standing for injustice in the case of Ese’s abduction, conversion to Islam and forced marriage. Reports show that the incumbent Emir of Kano is fully aware of Ese’s case, as he allegedly presided over her conversion and marriage, after which the girl remained in his custody.
Commentators have expressed concern over how an individual such as Lamido, who can conduct himself so uncivilly, previously held an office of great repute in the country. According to Yinka Odumakin, the Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, if the Emir’s role in Ese’s conversion and marriage is confirmed, then he would be aiding and abetting crime. Latest reports from Mobile Punch say that the Emir has ordered the Sharia commission to repatriate Ese back to her home state of Bayelsa. This report is yet to be confirmed.
The federal government of Nigeria
Nigerians are calling for one law for Nigeria and that this legality should take preeminence in the country regardless of religion. The Nigerian Constitution states that the legislative powers of the country rest in the hands of the National Assembly who have equally maintained silence as Ese’s case unfolds.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) disclosed its intention to investigate the case as involves human rights violations.