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Crime

Nigerian police release 259 captives in Oyo State

Nigeria Police Force handout depicting some of the 259 people allegedly being held against their will at a so-called Islamic school in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Nigeria Police Force handout depicting some of the 259 people allegedly being held against their will at a so-called Islamic school in Ibadan, Oyo State. Nigeria Police Force

Nigerian police have released 259 people held captive at an Islamic rehabilitation center in the southwestern city of Ibadan, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

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Oyo state police spokesman Fadeyi Olugbenga said the facility was raided on Monday. “Yesterday, 259 persons were released,” he said, adding that they were locked in a building and some were chained.

He said nine people including the owner had been arrested and were under investigation.

One meal a day

Images from local TV station TVC taken shortly after the captives were released showed a group of mostly young men and teenaged boys. An infant was also among the group. Many were emaciated.

“We eat one meal a day,” one of the men told TVC.

Many captives have said they were physically and sexually abused and chained up to prevent them escaping.

The raids are increasingly embarrassing for President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim who has called on police to crack down on such centers.

More than 1,000 people have been released from such centers in Nigeria in the last few weeks. However, the others have been in the predominantly Muslim north of the country, rather than the southern states that are mostly inhabited by Christians.

The raid will increase pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to take action on loosely regulated centers that offer rehabilitation services and often an Islamic education. He has already called on police to shut down such centers.

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