EXCLUSIVE: Almajirai defy ban order, return to Kano streets

Sometime in April last year, the Kano state government repatriated thousands of Almajiri pupils to their respective states of origin in an exercise meant to sanitize Qur’anic schools.

Daily Telescope observed that the implementation committee set up by the government took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to carry out its assignment despite criticism from a section of Ulama and opposition parties.

At the beginning of the exercise 251,883 pupils were identified for repatriation within the eight metropolitan local governments of Nassarawa, Dala, Gwale, Municipal, Kumbotso, Tarauni, Ungoggo and Fagge.

Out of the figures 178,472 almajiri were non-indigenes of Kano, while 72,411 came from the eight metropolitan local governments of the state.

The non-indigene pupils, Daily Telescope recalled, were repatriated to Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Nasarawa states and the neighboring Niger republic.

Few weeks into the exercise, Kaduna and Jigawa states also joined the wagon by repatriating non-indigene almajirai to their states of origin including Kano.

However, five months after the exercise was launched in Kano, the almajiri pupils have defied the ban order and returned to streets, Daily Telescope, observed.

The clusters of almajiri pupils that hitherto disappeared from the major streets in Kano courtesy of the repatriation exercise, are gradually resurfacing.

‘Still being hunted’

The children could be seen carrying different types of plastic bowls moving from house-house or from one street to
another begging for arms.

Abdullahi Musa,9, from Talata Mafara local government in Zamfara state, said: “I was brought to Kano in 2016 to study Qur’an from teacher Alaramma Malam Yahaya. I was among the pupils that were sent back home eight months ago.

“However, two weeks ago, my teacher called my parents on the phone and said they can send me back to him because things have been normalized.

“Unfortunately, after we returned, we discovered that government officials are still hunting us with a view to taking us back to our parents.”

Auwal Yusuf in his account, said even though they had returned to Kano, there was a tendency of being repatriated to their respective villages.

“On Sunday last week, after we finished the night session, we noticed two vehicles parked directly opposite to our school. We all ran to the neighboring houses for fear of being arrested by government officials and we passed the night there.”

Another pupil, Muhammad Abba from Kaduna state, who confirmed his repatriation to Kaduna in April last year, said he was returned to Kano three weeks ago.

He said: “I am studying at Malam Muhammad Baba’s Qur’anic school in Kurnar Asabe quarters. Six of us were returned to Kano about two months ago. We still have fears that the government may take us back to our parents again.

“As you can see, we are coming back from street begging and only two of us got food which we shared among the six of us. Despite the fact that we are hungry, we are going back to school for the evening class.”

Malam Abdulkadir Abubakar is a secondary school teacher in the state. He said: “just last week, I met three Qur’anic pupils in Badawa quarters around 11:30pm dragging a colleague. They said the boy doesn’t want to follow them to their Qur’anic school along Kano eastern bypass.

“I therefore told the boy that if he did not follow them, I will call members of the vigilante group to take him to their office. So, imagine these young children roaming the street at that time? Anything can happen to them.”

Parents returning pupils

Speaking to Daily Telescope on condition of anonymity for fear of victimization, a Qur’anic teacher, said they had started receiving some pupils who decided to return to Kano and continue with their studies.

He added that contrary to speculation that they (teachers) recalled the pupils, it’s the parents that were returning the children to Kano on their own volition.

“I have never asked any parents to return his children to me. Rather the parents begged us to accommodate the children when they returned and we obliged. I cannot on my own reject any pupil that decides to come back to studying Qur’an in my school. I cannot afford to do that in my life,” he concluded.

More repatriation on the way

Contacted, Chairman Kano State Committee for evacuation of Almajiri, Alhaji Murtala Sule Garo, insisted that the government would again repatriate any almajiri pupils that return to Kano from his state of origin.

Garo, who is also the commissioner for local government explained that “For those who cannot trace their villages or parents, they will be enrolled into the public Qur’anic boarding schools in Kiru and Gabasawa local governments respectively.

“Kano state government will establish more such schools across the state to accommodate more almajiri pupils. Our intention is to sanitise the system, not to abolish Qur’anic school.

“So, I can assure you any Almajiri that return to Kano will be returned to his village. For the Qur’anic teachers, the government will place them on monthly allowance and send them to the government Qur’anic boarding schools to teach,” he said.

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