Abducted Orphans Found Abused in Government Facility

12/24/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – For Professor Solomon Tarfa and his wife Merci, the moment a child enters their orphanage, they become family.

“Some are abandoned in brothels, hospitals, bushes, gutters, dustbins, farms and sometimes they are left at our orphanage at night or when we are in church,” the Professor told ICC.

“When they come in, we take them first to the hospital for general diagnosis, then take them also to the police station for signing of consent papers as evidence and warrant to keep them.”

Since it’s inception from 1992, Du Merci has cared for 3,148 children, many of whom have been reconciled with their families.

“Since we began the home there is no child that has left our facility except when we are able to identify their parents or relations and reintegrate them to their families,” said the Professor.

“Those who had left are the ones that completed their Degrees and National Service and decided to remain independent due to age, or because they are getting married.”

Despite such successes, on Christmas day 2019, a team of policemen raided the orphanage, arrested Professor Tarfa without bail, and transferred 27 children to government-run facilities. Even though his wife provided all the necessary documentation, the government declared that the orphanage was unregistered and shut it down. 

“The police kept me in their cell for 41 days and in prison for about one year without taking me to court,” Professor Tarfa told ICC, “I was locked up for no crime but for operating a Christian orphanage.”

Since that date almost two years ago, Professor Tarfa and his wife, undergoing a draining and amoral court venture, have been unable to see the children.

But this year, hopes for a reunion were high: “The Christian Association Lawyer in Kano State, requested for 23rd to 26th to visit and celebrate with them by sharing clothes, toys food, etc.” Professor Solomon shared in a hopeful text message to ICC. “Pray that it will be approved.”

However, ICC later learned that the request was denied. Instead, on December 23rd, 2021, a Reverend affiliated with the orphanage went to one of the government-run homes, under the guise of a normal visitor.

“They took along with them some juice, biscuits, and supplements for the 5 minors in Gaya,” a source told ICC, “but they were shocked with what they saw.”

“The kids didn’t recognize them… they were drastically emaciated, dirty and unkempt. They no longer remember their names because they were branded with Hausa names and couldn’t communicate in the English language anymore; the only language they understood before they were seized.”

Because of their inability to understand English, the Reverend had difficulties interacting with the children.

“Their names were changed, they recited Arabic and were daily indoctrinated with Islamic teachings and attended mosque prayers…instead of being watched or guarded by the Nigeria Police, it was the Islamic Police (HISBAH) that were at the security post.”

Besides the five Du Merci children in the home, five other children were also seen, all of whom looked “frightened, hypnotized, and in a constant withdrawal mood.”

“No normal parent will watch such inhumane treatment on these children and will not react to the abuse they are facing.” Professor Solomon told ICC.

“We are truly devastated by the silent killing of our little children. Please, let the world hear and know about what we are suffering. People, have forgotten what we are going through.”

Such a story may seem unimaginable in the eyes of a Westerner. The truth is, the daily reality for Christians in Nigeria is unimaginable.

But how could such blatant injustice occur within a country professing religious tolerance? 

There are many contributing factors. ICC recently published a report analyzing how state governments in Nigeria are furthering persecution. Of particular concern are the twelve central and northern states that encourage or allow the implementation of criminal Sharia law and the use of Sharia courts to enforce Islamic religious codes.

In addition, the international community has largely turned a blind eye to what is happening to Christians Nigeria. In 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed Nigeria from the State Department’s countries of particular concern (CPC) list for religious freedom, just three days prior to his diplomatic trip to Nigeria to meet with the Nigerian President. Some former diplomats see Blinken’s move as a political move to appease an important African partner and “revenge of the bureaucracy” at the State Department. They view the decision as inconsistent with administration’s claim to uphold human rights in foreign policy decisions.

Reverend John Joseph Hayab, Secretary General of the Christian Association of Nigeria’s Kaduna state office, met with Blinken during his visit. “What I said to Blinken was that, because Nigeria still has grave problems with religious persecution, his action was like that of a doctor discharging a patient from the hospital, even though the patient is critically ill.  What that signifies is telling the patient to go home and die.”

Please pray for the children of Du Merci Orphanage. Pray that they will be reunited with their Christian family and that the love of Christ will heal the trauma they have had to endure. Please also continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, and that the world would no longer turn a blind eye to the persecution they are facing.

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