Niger police rescued 15 children from a school in Central Nigeria on Tuesday, where the children were kept in chains and tortured.
According to Niger State Command spokesperson Wasiu Abiodun, the children, whose ages range between 2 – 10 years old, were discovered in a “dehumanizing condition” on Sunday.
There were found and freed from the suspect’s home under the guise of an almajiri school in the town of Suleja in Niger state, where authorities recovered “three chains used to tie their legs.”
Abiodun said that the children, had on them signs of abuse and torture, including scars and wounds, and they were handed over to Niger State Child’s Rights Agency.
The cleric who ran the school name Umar Ahmed, 46, was arrested during the raid, and will “soon be arraigned in court for prosecution as soon as investigation is concluded.”
Almajiri Schools are informal Islamic religious schools that are common in Nigeria where there is a significant lack of government services.
However, these schools are widely criticized for poor treatment of students, squalid conditions and making students beg on the streets.
Many operate under the guise of rehabilitation centers for children with behavioral problems and drug addicts.
Police have been continuously probing on these schools and had rescued hundreds of thousands of children in a string of raids last year, where many of those freed reported torture and sexual abuse.
One such raid was conducted on October 2019, wherein the police freed about 500 men and boys from an almajiri school in Katsina, northern Nigeria.
The victims were sent by their families to be treated for drug addiction while others were sent to learn the Quran, but instead were shackled and tortured.
Governors of Northern Nigeria announced the ban on almajiri schools in May, as they fear the schools could become hotspots for spreading the novel coronavirus.