By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
The President, Nigerian Christian Graduates Fellowship (NCGF), Barrister Offiong Effiong Bassey Offiong, SAN, has disagreed with the police story on the Du Merci Orphanage in Kano alleging that it is a baby factory syndicate.
He described the police story on Du Merci Orphanage in Kano as blatant lies and wickedness.
It would be recalled that Professor Solomon Tarfa and some of the residents of the orphanage were last week paraded to a select group of media houses by the Police as part of a baby factory syndicate.
The Police stated that the orphanage was a baby factory, using a hospital not far from it to birth children for alleged commercial purposes, a story that has been vehemently denied by the management of the orphanage, which insists the pregnant young ladies it takes in are those abandoned on the streets.
The orphanage and its supporters have asked the Police to prove what it described as “terrible and wicked allegation”.
In a statement, Offiong and Adisa reeled out the names of some of the alleged victims who said they are being held against their will by the Police.
To prove their position, the lawyer and professor of surgery gave the names of those being held and their phone numbers.
Curiously, some of those picked and paraded by the Police are university graduates, while others were allegedly visitors to the orphanage when the Police carried out the raid.
In a statement titled, “Update on the arrest of Prof Solomon Tarfa, Owner of Du Merci Orphanage, the duo wrote: “The Orphanage children whisked away by the Nigerian Police and Kano state Government are supposed to be in school but are kept against their wills at Nasarawa home in Kano.
“The Police and Kano state government lied that the kids are between ages 3 to 12 years which is a big fat lie!!! Sarah is there and is a University graduate – 30 years old held against her will there. Michael is 22 years or so kept against his will there. Blessing is above 22 years and just visited the home for Christmas with her new baby from her husband’s place but kept against her will in the home.
“Channels TV featured her as a child that grew from the home and forcefully given out in marriage. Wicked world!!!
“Sarah and Michael are currently being threatened by the police for staging a protest within the government home, because they said they have been held against their wills for over two weeks now and want to go back home.
“Some Children who grew up in this Orphanage and are now adults, some are graduates and happily married are:
“Comfort Joshua (formerly known as Comfort Tarfa called mama at home) 36yrs old, her phone number is 08026992876 a mother of 3 kids,
“Marcus Tarfa married and a father of three children of her own, you can reach him on 08099288279.
“Sarah Tarfa is another child that grew up in this home, and is 30 year old now, a graduate of BUK Kano is currently in custody at Nasarawa Home Kano taken away by the police with the other children. You can reach her on 08163853797.
“You can speak to the kids forcefully taken away by the police through Sarah and Michael on 08022044479 because they are all together at the Kano government Orphanage
“David Tarfa 09014915107 a graduate, Umaru 08037567044 a furniture designer today…all expenses for his training was cleared then by this orphanage,
“Sule a graduate today also trained by the Orphanage 08080569981 or 07069702064, Hauwa also trained by the Orphanage and is graduate 09095811873,
“Samuel also trained by this Orphanage Maritime Academy Oron (studied Marine Engineering) – you can get him on 08133144383 and 08169513570- in fact speak to Samuel to get facts about what’s happening because he’s been shuttling the orphanage and police station taking food to their father.
“They (Police and Kano state Government) know that the bigger children will tell the world the truth so they make the world to believe that it’s all small kids they are trying to save. Lies!!! Lies!!!!! and lies!!!!!.
“The bigger children will tell the world the truth -even the smaller ones. The police are spinning a false narrative and propaganda against the Orphanage for mischievous reasons.”
Details of what transpired in the orphanage before, during, and after the raid and were captured in an earlier statement signed by the Director of Advocacy of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Nigerian (CSWN) Office, Barrister Matthew Braimoh.
According to the CSWN, its investigation showed that the orphanage is not ‘illegal’ but registered with relevant regulatory bodies in compliance with extant legal requirements.
CSWN said it was shown valid registration documents with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Kano State, Kano State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS), and an affidavit from the Kano State High Court establishing its legitimacy as a faith-based charity with bona fide endeavor.
It said the raid is not the first of the travails of Du Merci in the hands of the police and judicial officials in Kano State.
CSWN recalled that a Judge of the High Court of Kano State, Justice A.M Haliru in suit No. K/M225/2002 quashed and set aside the proceedings and judgment of the juvenile court presided over by Chief Magistrate Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero, held on the 26/6/2002 directing the children to be removed from the Du Merci Children Home and transferred to Nasarawa Children’s Home.
The said juvenile court had conducted its hearing in the living room of the proprietor at the orphanage and sentenced them both to 2 years imprisonment each. They were taken straight to the prison and the children confiscated to the government home while Du Merci Orphanage was shut for four months until the order of the High Court Judge.
Report has it that during the hearing in their home they were questioned as to why they will establish a Christian orphanage in Kano State; they wondered if Kano State was not a Nigerian State in which the provisions of the constitution generously grants its citizens freedom of religion or belief.
Du Merci is located in Sabon Gari, a populated Christian area where some teenage girls are used as sex workers and abandoned when they get pregnant. They later go to the hospital for abortions or abandon the delivered babies in the hospital. Proprietors of the orphanage counsel these girls, make contact with their parents and in some cases, the parents reconcile with the girls and take their grandchildren home. In some cases, the parents consider the situation as a stigma to take the newborn whereupon they are given a memorandum of understanding to complete placing the children in the orphanage care. The orphanage maintained all the documents signed by parents and the manifesto of each child.
The children are well taken care of, loved, well-nourished and placed in some of the best schools. Some have graduated from the university and have chosen to lead their lives by accepting roles in the orphanage to give back to others.
NAPTIP officials came to the orphanage on 29/12/19 and one of them named; Misbau Iyya Kaura presented his ID Card stating that they came for investigation. They immediately started interrogating the children without the proprietor’s consent. The children requested that they should speak to their mother who they argued was in the best position to speak as a proprietor of the orphanage.
Report has it that Mrs Mercy was given a form that reads: ‘Accused/Witness’ to fill but objected asserting that no crime has been committed. She demanded to speak with her lawyer and the NAPTIP officials demanded she follows them to their office for questioning.
On getting there with her husband, they were kept from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm without interrogation. By this time their lawyer came requesting an audience with the NAPTIP superior officer but he was challenged and almost sent out of their office but he refused to leave.
At 6:00 pm they were asked to bail themselves or remain detained through the weekend even though there was no formal charge. After much argument, the lawyer advised them on getting the bail since they weren’t sure of the motive of the NAPTIP.
Although they were handed stringent bail terms the conditions were met after putting the surety through a very onerous situation. They were subjected to visiting the NAPTIP office twice every week which they did.
At about 2:00 pm on Christmas Day, 2019 twenty-five policemen armed with guns in Hilux vehicles stormed the orphanage, stating that the Kano State Commissioner of Police demanded the proprietors to come to the station for interrogation.
19 children aged 3 months old to 28 years were whisked away with Professor Solomon Tarfa as the wife went to get dressed to follow them. At the police station, the children were given papers to make statements which the police wrote for them and one of them, aged 24 was told to state he was a staff.
The first allegations were that Du Merci was an illegal operation. But upon presentation of the documents of registration, five days later the allegation was changed to criminal conspiracy and abduction. The case is currently at a magistrate court in Nomans land, Kano.
The lawyer has filed a suit at the Kano State High Court for the review of the bail terms of Professor Solomon Tarfa and the return of the children to Du Merci Children Home.
To further prove Du Merci was properly registered, it was enrolled as one of the orphanages operating legally in Kano State last year by the Ministry of Women Affairs and the orphanage received 120 bags of rice and other relief materials from President Buhari. The contention here is that the proprietors who are Christians are operating a faith-based outfit in Kano. This is a case of persecution, marginalization, and discrimination on grounds of religion.
The policemen also took the Prof. to the Kaduna branch on 29/12/19 where seven invited reporters were present. The security men became agitated at the sight of them and declined to make any comments. They waited till about 7:00 pm when the pressmen left before taking 8 children away from Kaduna to Kano. They arrived at 2:00 am with the children having nothing to eat and scantily covered to stand the cold weather. They had to wait till dawn for the orphanage in Kano who organized their feeding and brought them sweaters for the cold. The children were aged 3 years to 15 years, with a 30-year-old who is a teacher.
Two sources at the Nasarawa Children Home where they were kept described the situation as challenging physically, emotionally, psychologically and deteriorating. One of the girls named Destiny was sick and taken to the hospital by the government officials but was abandoned there.
Mrs. Mercy Tarfa had to make efforts for her care and treatments bearing responsibility for every cost. The children are exposed to mosquitoes, cold and made to share small beds.