Islamic ‘house of torture’ in Nigeria

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Horrific revelations of torture and abuse at a compound billing itself as a Koranic reform school in northern Nigeria have shone a spotlight on Islamic institutes unregulated by the authorities.

Last week police in the city of Kaduna raided a building to find hundreds of men and boys  some reportedly aged as young as 5  held in atrocious conditions at a facility proprietors described as a religious school and rehabilitation centre.

Inmates were discovered chained to metal railings and with their hands and feet shackled together. Some bore scars from alleged beatings while other recounted being sexually abused.

“If they caught you if you want to run away from this place, they would hang you, they would chain you,” one of the victims Abdallah Hamza said.

The shocking revelations made headlines but activists insisted they were symptomatic of abuses that have long-riddled a system beyond official control.

Private Islamic schools  known locally as Almajiri schools  are widespread across mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where poverty levels are high and government services often lacking.