Ahmad Aliyu, the 30-year-old man locked up by his parents for seven years for alleged drug abuse, was a football coach in his local community in Farawa Arewa of Mariri in Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano State, neighbours and associates told HumAnge on Saturday.
Farawa Quarters is a rural community populated by poor people involved in mainly menial activities, including petty trading and “okada” (commercial motorbike) operations.
When HumAngle visited the community on Saturday, it found the area deserted and his family house locked up as his father, Aminu Ibrahim, and his wife had been arrested by the police for allegedly locking him up for years without care.
Within the neighbourhood, some persons gathered in groups and discussed the development.
Ahmad and his immediate younger brother, Sagir Aminu, moved in with their father and his wife from Zoo Road Quarters, Kano, to Farawa Arewa some 10 years ago after the death of their mother.
Some of the neighbours confirmed that Ahmad was on drugs before his solitary confinement.
His brother, Sagir, said apart from being a drug addict, Ahmad was into ‘daba’ (thuggery) and always engaged in street fights that left him with scars on the body.
He said as a result of Ahmad’s drug addiction, his father took him to a rehabilitation centre with a view to help him quit the habit.
Sagir claimed that his brother got sick at the rehabilitation centre and was brought home unable to walk about five years ago.
He said that several attempts to get him cured from the sickness failed and his father decided to confine him to enable his being administered drugs.
Ahmad’s father, Aminu Ibrahim, an indigene of Okene in Kogi State, who has lived in Kano State for a long period with his family, told newsmen after his arrest that Ahmad had been on alternative medicine treatment over the “evil spirit” that possessed him since he started taking hard drugs seven years ago.
“Contrary to the information going round, I kept him for three years after he had started taking drugs about seven years ago and in a bid to get him cured, I placed him on herbal medicine, local drugs, because they told me that it was evil spirit that was worrying him,” he said.
“My mistake was that I didn’t take him to the conventional hospital, and my wife had even confronted me over that. She insisted that I should take him to hospital but I didn’t listen,” Ibrahim said.
But Ahmad insisted: “My parents locked me in a room at the moment I came for visitation because of grudges I had with my parents earlier, and my mother’s family had pleaded on my behalf.”
A neighbor, Yusuf Isah, said, “I have known him for about 10 years. He used to be our football coach during our childhood days. He was a very popular, agile and active coach before he ventured into drugs.”
“From the time he started taking drugs we ceased to see him in the area until after some years we learnt that he had been returned home sick and unable to walk.”
Yusuf said he shed tears when he saw his once agile coach being bundled into a police van excessively skinny.
“On Thursday, I was surprised when I saw him, he was exceptionally skinny, just a living skeleton of him was what I saw, which suggests how inhumanly he had been treated.”
Amina Musa, a neighbor who witnessed when he was rescued on Thursday, said: “Ahmad who was the coach of our childhood football team in the neighbourhood had been reduced into a living skeleton with only skin covering his ‘almost visible bones”.
The Police Command in Kano State, in a statement on Friday said the suspects were arrested in a raid conducted by men of Operation PUFF ADDER, sequel to intelligence gathering.
“The command received information that the suspect confined his 30-year-old son, inside a garage in his house situated at Farawa Quarters in Kumbotso Local Government Area of the state, for seven years without proper feeding and healthcare.
“On receiving the information, a team of Operation PUFF ADDER swung into action and rescued the victim,” the Spokesman of the Command, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, said.
Haruna said the rescued victim was referred to the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, Kano for treatment.
He said that the Commissioner of Police, Mr Habu Ahmad, had ordered that the case be transfered to the State Criminal Investigations Department for “discreet” investigations.
The Executive Director, Human Rights Network NGO, Comrade A.A. Haruna Ayagi, said: “we found Ahmad in a terrible situation, urinating and excreting in the same spot without being given any food and looking like he was going to die at any moment.
“The issue started from the ward when neighbors reported the case to our local desk officer, the desk officer reported to the zonal officer and then the zonal officer reported to the national executive council of Human Rights Network of Nigeria.
“ The father locked up his son, Ahmad, for over seven years. This is an abuse of Human Rights. We, as an organisation, reported the criminal case to the police. After his rescue, Ahmad was taken to Murtala Muhammad General Hospital.
“The victim needs serious medical attention, HRN is a non-governmental organisation, so as a body we don’t have the right to take him to any special hospital, because currently Ahmad needs special hospital,” he said.
“The parents have been transferred from Divisional Office to State Security CID for further investigation. Our NGO will follow up the report and ensure that justice is served.
“We have attached one of our staff to monitor the treatment given to Ahmad at the hospital, but the state government has done nothing to Ahmad’s condition unlike how Kebbi State government took a similar case serious.
“Ahmad is not getting serious medical attention as required at Murtala Muhammad General Hospital, because our non-governmental body has no funds to take care of his health. The commissioner for health and the executive governor of Kano State are still mute on the incident.
“The commissioner of women affairs sent a representative and told us the governor is aware of the incident. Yesterday, in the evening, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr Zahra’u Muhammad, visited the hospital and only snapped with the victim without adding any positive impact on his health condition,” Ayagi said.
He said the hospital management was threatening to discharge Ahmad from the Accident and Emergency Unit which he was being kept after two days but efforts by HumAngle to confirm the claim failed as the Chief Medical Director, Dr Hussain Muhammad, said he was in a hurry to attend to an emergency and could only speak later.