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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trivial 9. The Maimuna Diary

Trivial 7
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
 
The Maimuna Diary
 
There have been significant developments since I wrote “Maimuna” and I feel that I owe my readers a duty to keep them informed about them.
 
The first significant development is how the police revived their investigation immediately after the three yahoo discussion groups in Kano issued a press release which was carried in many national dailies. One of the relatives of the girl said the culprits who were already released from custody were re-arrested immediately after the press release. They have been in police custody since.
 
The Kano State Commissioner of Police (CP) has also been up and doing on the matter since. Reports indicate that he was mad with the misconduct of his men and is trying hard to see the culprits are brought to justice with, understandably, as little damage as possible to the already battered national image of the Force. I have also received reports that following public uproar on the issue and the calls for him to intervene, the Inspector General of Police has put the Kano Police Command on its toe. The suspects now know that Maimuna, the little girl they deflowered and turned into a sex commodity over a month ago is not just any weak girl as they thought. She is more powerful than they are. She now has the world behind her. We will keep pressing, relentlessly.
 
The only setback here is that the three civilians involved in the crime have escaped to Lagos, said the CP. He irritated all of us in the discussion groups by showing his disappointment over the public's emphasis on the Police culprits  with little mention, he said, on their civilian accomplices. Who would he blame? Does not he know that the crime is particularly magnified by the involvement of the Police? And whose laxity was it that allowed the civilians to escape?  Do we know them? And even if we know them do we have a cell to lock them in?Anyway, he promised to apprehend them.
 
There are also indications that the police have completed their investigations and the accused police personnel might be arraigned in court next week, if not earlier. Here, we must commend the effort of the Kano State Attorney-General (AG) and Commissioner for Justice along with the Hisbah Board which I learned has been competently handling other similar cases before. It must not be forgotten that it was the Hisbah that demanded from the Police a comprehensive investigation on the matter. I am convinced that the two offices are on top of the matter. This will not, however, prevent us from appealing to the AG in particular to ensure that he prevails on the Chief Justice of the state to assign the case to a reputable judge that will administer the justice without undue delay or compromise. He knows his men well. And we know Nigerian courts very well too. The eyes of the world are on this case.
 
I will also plead with the AG to seek a trial in camera in order to safeguard the identity of Maimuna. It should not be in public; otherwise, she will live with a painful stigmatization for the rest of her life. We in the media have dubbed her Maimuna for the same reason. The same thing must, however, not apply to the suspects. Just as armed robbers are arraigned before the press, let them be exhibited in public by the Police Commissioner. This will further help to deter other policemen from similar actions.
 
Thirdly, I will appeal to the AG or whoever is handling the case to include a substantial plea of compensation to Maimuna which will be paid by the Nigerian Police.
 
Also commendable is the concern shown by various groups and the efforts they have been making since the news broke out. The Hisbah Board has opened a register for the groups that have shown interest in the case. Apart from general NGOs, the women advocacies have been pursuing the matter. Our sister Maryam Uwais has been on it since 12 December according to the thread of emails I received from the groups on the matter. They have been in contact with the Maimuna and her family, giving her the right counselling and doing whatever is possible in the circumstance. Their silence, I understand from the communications and indeed from Maryam’s published response in this blog (Maryam Fires Back!), is informed by the desire to protect the girl from a campaign that may scare the family into dropping the matter. And it almost happened.
 
Maimuna’s family indeed wanted the case dropped because of the stigmatization that the accompanying publicity would bring her. However, a representative from the discussion groups and from the women advocacies has each met with the family members separately and convinced them to stick to their guns at least for the sake of other girls who may fall victims of such violation in the future if this one is let to go unpunished. They have also been well informed of the interest that many of us have shown on the matter and assured the family that it will not be left alone to tread the long distance to justice alone.
 
I am overwhelmed by the outpour of support for Maimuna. We are trying to see a unified front is forged. The effort of Hizbah would help here considerably. However, I have my reservations about government establishments. People in this country have lost confidence that government agencies can sustain such tasks expeditiously. I still prefer the fund to be under a foundation specifically made for the poor girl, rather than left to a department of government.
 
Some have questioned why money would be useful in this course, arguing that justice is what the girl needs. From our experience, money and status are what guarantees justice in Nigeria, and Maimuna has neither one nor the other. Some N50,000 paid by someone to persuade the family to retreat almost compromised one of her relatives if not for the resolve of the uncle.
 
Maimuna and the family needs the money, one, as an inevitable provision on the long journey to justice. They must have the economic strength that will augment the moral one.
 
Two, I am of the opinion that Maimuna must not come out of this excruciating experience with the happiness that “justice is done” only and left to face the future as hopeless as any other girl of her class. When justice is done, her credentials would be that of a 16 year old girl that has suffered the worst humiliation we can imagine; a minor who, instead of keeping sealed lips, cried out to our hearing, even against the opinions of some of her family members until the world came to her aid. She has thus served as an example that is vital to protect other girls from such criminals in our society. In that way, she gave herself as a sacrifice for the public to fight injustice and to protect itself.
 
But what does she gain out of all this if we allow her to swim in the surrounding stinking pool of poverty which was the condition that predisposed her to victimhood in the first instance? If she were a girl driven in her family’s vehicle, as we the elite do to our daughters, would the police have abducted her? No. they would have saluted her, begging for a tip, saying, “Kiyaye ki Hajiya. Ana sanyi hajiya (May God protect you, Hajiya. The weather is cold)” If the car had broken down, they would have assisted her to repair it or tow it to safety for her. But Maimuna, the orphan, was riding a commercial motorcycle after sunset on her way back from her grandmother’s house. It did not have headlight. So instead of the police to protect her by getting her a taxi or another motorcycle, something that would cost them nothing more than N50 (30 cents), they used her pecuniary circumstance to abduct her and keep her as a sex slave for 28 days. We must remove Maimuna from this predisposing poverty in addition to helping her find justice.
 
Maimuna must be empowered by our effort to live a happy life for the rest of her life. She must have a happy marriage, a happy family in a prosperity that will prevent her children from becoming victims like their mother even in their worst dreams. In addition, we need to empower Maimuna whose experience would be an unparalleled force to fight for the emancipation of the girl child from poverty and other social injustices. We just cannot allow such a valuable experience vanish into thin air without exploiting it to her advantage and to that of the society at large.
 
How do we achieve these noble objectives? It is simple. Give Maimuna the best education we can find around and everything will fall in place. Though I have never met her, but having dealt with the education of thousands of children like her and given her background, I can pretty guess that she is not better than other girls who go to our public school but who, even at the age of 16, cannot construct a single sentence in English. So she needs special training to catch up and then excel; for excel she must if she is to realise our dreams for her. The fund, therefore, is also important for this purpose.
 
With the money at hand, she does not need to be whisked to Britain or to the States. We must protect her from the traps that others like Amina Lawal fell into. We must keep her home-grown, as much possible. Quietly, we can employ a very good teacher for her, who will train her in both Islamic and secular subjects. All this must be done without the attention that will prolong her trauma or stigmatize her. Within few years she will make significant headway. Then she goes higher and higher and higher in education and career. Along the way, God willing, Maimuna would be happily married with children and pursuing a career.
 
It is difficult for me to figure out a better way to help this girl than this. But this is just my opinion. Please do not hesitate to express yours below or elsewhere, in support or in objection.
 
On how the fund would be gathered, I still feel that a trust registered in her name into which donations made would finally be deposited and administered would be the best. The trustees should better be non-governmental, made of people of impeccable character and must include her resolute uncle, and a representative each from Hisbah, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Education. In collecting immediate donations, however, as I said, the groups can still be used. Emeka and some other readers have suggested my involvement. But I live four hours away from Kano. Moreover, the groups are made up of younger people whom I believe should be allowed to carry out responsibilities like this. This will prevent a repeat of the mistake which elders in this region have been making: They alone know the best and can do the best. That has left us without a tradition of continuity. My generation should be different.
 
Finally, as we look up to the beginning of the trial that will eventually lead to the justice that Maimuna deserves, possibly next week according one source, I will appeal to my colleagues in the media to continue to do all they can to safeguard her identity. The family needs to be assured of this. The Hisbah as a statutory body should also endeavour to ensure it. Nothing will break her like exposure. So far, so good! We do not know her actual name and cannot recognise her face. However, the trial risks changing this safety if it is not handled carefully. In addition to the call for a trial in camera, I would like the family to ensure that Maimuna for now wears a dress that will enhance her anonymity. A khimar – veil– even if it is only on any day in court or when she meets with outsiders will not be out of place. Better suggestions should please be made by readers below if possible.
 
So let us keep our eyes open and keep pressing hard. Once the fund raising arrangement is completed the public will be notified through various channels. I will also publish the details here. We will intimate you about the people involved in the collection and the accounts to deposit your contribution before the trust is registered, if that idea is accepted to the organizations at the centre of this nobleeffort.
 
Do not forget to contribute by giving your suggestions or expressing your views below. They will be highly appreciated now and later, as historical documents that Maimuna would gladly read in some years to come, in sha Allah.
 
Bauchi
20 December 2010

POSTSCRIPT
As I arrived Kano this afternoon, one of the leaders of Raayi Riga yahoo discussion group called me to break the news that the CP has just finished addressing a press conference on the matter. To lower the tension that he said is too much in Kano per the matter, he announced the immediate dismissal from service of two of the three policemen and the demotion of the third, Inspector Dantalle, to the rank of sergeant. The case will be immediately handed over to the DPP for instant prosecution, he said.

Let us keep pressing.

Aliyu

22 comments:

Kasim Gumel said...

I would like to start by expressing my appreciation on the actions taken by the writer and the general public regarding Maimuna's case; it's quite commendable and may the Almighty God reward everyone involved! I think the idea of enhancing the anonimity of Maimuna is a great one and needs a serious follow up. Let's look at the benefits of upholding the idea without any prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Yes. she need to be educated but please also encourage to get married before graduation to someone that will still allow her to continue her education. You all know the problem our(Northern) girls encounter after graduation if no husband. Some now are even regretting selecting school before marriage. they are graduates above 30 No Husband No job. with all their good habit.

DANDUGAJE said...

Dr. your large heart can not be given a precise dimension.But we can only ask All to help us be true to our dreams and make them alive.Help us to be true to the light that is deep within us.Help us to hold unto our faith,hope and joy of life.Help us to keep good thoughts in our minds and good feelings in our hearts.Help us to realize the life is ever changing process and nothing is final.Success is not final,failure is not fatal.It is the courage to continue that counts.we may leave this world better than we found it, by looking for the best in others and giving the best we have.If one is not generous with meager resource he will never be generous with abundance.May Allah reward your effort in the same manner your ink flows on this matter.

Anonymous said...

May Allah reward you abundantly. When the account is opened, some of us would like to make anonymous donation into the account.

Anonymous said...

This is heart-warming to read and shows the power of united effort backed by key individuals, but there is clearly a way to go before anyone is convicted and sentenced for this crime....so the pressure and scrutiny of the judicial process must remain intense. May I suggest that, if sufficient funds are raised, it may be possible to use some of it to help other women facing similar brutality ?

scientist said...

When I read the story of Maimuna, I began to wonder how on earth could someone in his senses do that (may Allah forgive us). Am in support of what you are doing Dr. Tilde, we are behind you to ensure dissemination of justice in this case.

spaco said...

By some twist of irony this weird case has elevated my optimism for a brighter Nigeria.
It clearly shows that if we put our heads together we will fight against all forms of injustice.
The strongest weapon against the tyranny of the ruling class and those Government officials licensed to kill and rape, is the ordinary man on the street.
Shehu Abdullahi Usman.

Ibrahim Jibiya said...

Ibrahim says commendable is your unflinching support to uplifting course of justice to the less privileged.Pages of history will never forget this specific noble deed of yours as part of your highly esteemed legacy that the incoming generations will continue to emulate for many years to come. You have succeeded in epitomizing the new trends of social vices in Nigeria.I strongly support your inspiring suggestions over the matter at hand.May Allah be with you ameen.Ibrahim Jibiya

Anonymous said...

Dr tilde

please you have done well, may the Lord BLESS YOU.

please dont forget to go back to the field of politics

Yakubu Gusau said...

Alhamdulillah! We now have hope that 'Maimuna' will see justice which seems to be elusive in the beginning. Aliyu, may Allah reward you and Amina Uwais and many concerned and caring Nigerians like you who lent out their voices to the cry for justice on behalf of our innocent oppressed sister/daughter. Honestly the first time I read her story tears came to my eyes owing to the fact that we all know what happens to many such cases in the past. Now the world has heard her plight thanks to our tireless press and the kinds of Tilde in our midst. May Allah reward you abundantly.

I sincerely subscribe to your suggestions in regards to a fund for her education and development I also feel her identity should be protected for fear of stigmatisation. Finally the Nigerian Government/Police Force must be made to compensate her for damages. Though the damage to her life cannot be quantified but atleast let it be seen that some effort has been put in place to alleviate her physical and psychological trauma, This and only this would stop us from continuously praying "Allah Ya Isa!

Anonymous said...

On a broader aspect of this issue, I would like to say that apart from Sister Uwais and few like her, the Women folks and Feminine activist are keeping mum. Women are extremely exploited in these modern days. They (Women) will have to change strategy. Religious leaders too need to wake up. In their preaching theses days hardly do you hear them REMINDING Men of their responsibilities to cater for a Wife according to religious injunctions. What you often hear is that, Women should look for means of livelihood, Women should look for ways of reliance on themselves. By this emphasis no body is telling men to wake up to their responsibilities of taking care of the family - feeding, clothing and shelter which rests on the Husbands. Even if a Man is marrying a Millionaire,he as a husband, must feed, cloth and give her shelter. If Maimuna is an Orphan, at least an Uncle should take care of her.It is sad that Many Muslim Men have failed in their responsibilities.

Emeka said...

Although I have never meet Dr.Tilde in person,but I have personally gained so much in reading his works. There is nothing more assuring than knowing that somebody you hold so high is involved in helping our little girl - Maimuna.

If not Dr. Tilde most of us outside Nigeria will probably not have heard what is going on. I can envisage the daily schedules of Dr. Tilde - which very tight, but Sir, I still want to appeal to you,to be part of the management structure.

Living Maimunas uncle with min. of Justice and Education may not be very productive. how enlightened is her uncle. Those are govt. parastatals sir, shall we trust them with our little girl now,without any form of control. Who in the ministry is going to be involved. I have my reservation.

Hisbah I do not know anything about it, but going by what I see among christian org. I have some fear. I hope I am wrong.

Dr. Tilde we are all in this together. As pointed out by one of your readers, this may not end up with just this Maimuna, I guess we have lots of fight coming up.

As we wait for direction on where to send our contribution, may God reward you and your family abundantly.

Anonymous said...

The problem of hidden identity can not be achieved in NIgeria. So long as we want that to happen Paperazi-like Nija journalist will happily get her pictures by hooks or crooks. Saharareporters atleast will in the next few days do that.

Anonymous said...

Great work, Aliyu Tilde; I admire and commend you for publicising Maimuna's case. "Nuff respect!"

Have you read Masamba's response to your "Aunty Maryam" on Nigerian Village Square? Interesting.

Anonymous said...

And tell all these willing donors, all these people who want to salve their consciences by giving money in the form of contributions: thats not where it's at. You have to get off your lazy ass and do something more constructive than merely giving a few naira or a few dollars. If you dont do more than that, if you are too comfortable and selfish to do anything meaningful and concrete for Maimuna, future Maimunas may very well include your own daughter, or your wife - or your mother even. Think about that before sending money, ok?

Bashir Yahuza Malumfashi said...

Malam Tilde, We have to give praises to Allah for these positive developments about the case. More so, I suggest that hence forth, there is a need for the Yahoo Groups i.e. Dandalin Siyasa, Ra'ayi Riga and lots of others to transform from passive agitations to active one. What I mean here is that, the groups should be united and form a common front in order to fight injustice in our land. Let them mobilise and enlighten the masses actively about their rights. That is to say, people should be encouraged to press their elected leaders, corporate organisations etc in discharging their constitutional responsibilities. Just the way Maimuna's case is treated, many like it can bring desired changes in our societies. We have to know that the politicians and their ilks that loot our treasuries are living flamboyantly and arrogantly in our mids. If we continue to treat them with levity, they will continue destroying us the more. We've to passively and actively say no to any form of injustice. May Allah help us, amin!

danjume said...

Salam,
Thank you Mallam Aliyu for awakening us to appreciate the power of the PEN!I hope Allah will give all the patience you need to sustain this noble effort to emancipate us from the bondage of i dont care attitude Yi ma wani yi ma kai!Let us all try to remember Mallam Sa'adu Zungur.I think you should find time for a trivial on the struggles of this great man especially NOW, just re-awaken our politicians who have all gone blind,deaf and gone beyond redemption.

Mohammed Iliyas said...

By now Dr Tilde and many of us have heaved a sigh of relief that something positive is being done on the case of Maimuna. However, deviated a bit from being a bit emotional, I believe that there are many other Mainmunas in various parts of our country and I think it is more positive to contribute to such a broader fund from which this Maimuna can benefit..
Mainuna’s subject will convince Dr. Tilde that writing on issues like this has more impact than on any other topic and that he will continue to strive on this noble cause.

TAOFEEQ ADESHINA said...

Dr Tilde! Thank you so much for all the humanitarian assistance.May Allah Ta'ala reward you and all others who are involved in this particular case and similar others.
In my own opinion:
- Her identity (name and physical appearance inclusive) must not be disclose.
- Her education should be out of Kano environs and not by an individual teacher but in a group of her mates.
- The foundation to be established should as a matter of honesty handle the case with piety.
- The Commissioner of Police Kano State should be alerted of further/future confrontation/threat of his men on the family.
- We must all rise up to contribute to this project.

Khalid Imam said...

Oh yes, Allah does answer the prayers of the oppressed and hapless ones as this case of Maimuna clearly reminded us. Maimuna's cry for justice has been answered by our just and merciful God with the dismissal of her rapists from the Nigerian Police Force. What remains now is for her to witness the very day the animals who deflowered her would be thrown behind bars where they deserve to be, and rot. True, tears of pity and joy freely race on my face when I heard the news of their dismissal. Pity of their innocent families, joy for Maimuna who, in my view, will soon be liberate from her pangs. But my joy will be complete the very day she gets a right hubby to marry her in addition to the proposed path of education Dr Tilde is proposing for her to tread. May Allah continue to protect us- the feeble ones.

bakar said...

I wish to suggest that raising money for the girl is one thing, checking her health as it stands now is another-really important Dr.Tilde and Sister Maryam, kindly raise this issue to the family or to anyone closer to them. They should check the health of the girl especially after this terrible encounter inflicted upon her. This is true because, you can never know what potentially dangerous diseases that might have been transmitted into the girl. God forbid such but the health of the girl is equally paramount as we all clamor for a better life for her and her likes.
As such, a doctor should ascertain if the girl is pregnant. If true, it should be terminated. The earlier this is done, the better for her. We are not so sure but it is useful to suggest to the family to carry out a thorough examination on her health status. Some of the police sleep here and there.You can never tell what morass of diseases they carry and transmit on to their victims.
So many writers have written on money contribution. This is fine but her health is another urgent issue which should need investigation. It should be checked now not later.This vital matter has never come at a better time.
Thank you all and God bless Dr.Tilde and all who are pursuing this issue.

Fatima said...

Subhanallah, am speechless, just couldnt hold back the tears after reading this. I agree with all you have written. May Allah give us all the strenght to assist her to the end of this cause and give her a very pious husband. Well done doc.