The Northern wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking his intervention in the reported abduction, conversion and forced marriages of underage Christian girls linked to some Emirs in the country.
The visit of the CAN delegation led by its Chairman, Yakubu Pam, came on the heels of latest controversy caused by the abduction of a 14-year-old Christian girl, Habiba Isiyaku, allegedly endorsed by the Emir of Katsina, AbdulMumin Usman, a development over which the police have claimed helplessness.
Emerging from the meeting with the President, the delegation told journalists that it congratulated Buhari on the recent marriage of his daughter in Katsina, and pleaded with him to convince other northern leaders to emulate such respectable processes in contracting marriages.
Apart from the difficulty faced by Christians in practising their faith in the North, another major issue of concern among the many raised by the clerics was the incessant attacks on northern farmers by Fulani herdsmen, which has adversely affected the efforts of youths in the region to intensify agricultural production.
Pam informed State House correspondents that Buhari’s response to the demands of the delegation “was very positive as he promised us he was going to look into them”.
Pam said: “We came to present ourselves as the Northern CAN chapter to the President and to tell him some of the challenges that Northern Christians are passing through.
“One of those challenges is that we are having difficulties in expressing our faith in the northern part of the country. We have also told him some of the difficulties we are passing through with the Fulani herdsmen.
“The farmers need to be protected and in fact, we told the President that we have been encouraging our youths to go into farming and they need to be protected and when they come into the city, there is no employment; that is why farmers must be protected.
“We also talked on the issue of girl child abduction in the North. In some Northern states, some young girls and children are being abducted at 12 years old and the parents will just hear that the girls have been married to traditional rulers and emirs.
“This is gathering a cloud of crisis already and if that is not taken care of it will lead to a serious crisis. These are the issues we told the President.
“We congratulated him on the wedding of his daughter, the fight against corruption and Boko Haram war as people have started returning to their homes; as well on the return of the Chibok girls,” he said.
The family of Mr Isiyaku Tanko of Warkaza community in Kudun Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State, had accused the Emir of Katsina of abducting and marrying their 14-year-old daughter, Habiba, and denying her of her constitutional rights.
Habiba was alleged to have been abducted on August 16, 2016, by an official of the Emir of Katsina, Jamilu Lawal.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja thereafter, Habiba’s father, Mr Isiyaku Tanko, through his lawyer, Yakubu Bawa, decried the manner in which the Emir’s Palace manhandled him in his attempt to secure his daughter’s release.
The Katsina emirate has, however denied the allegations that Habiba was forcefully married out to one Lawal, who works as an aide in the palace.
Speaking through traditional ruler and Kauran Katsina, Abdulkadir Nuhu, the Katsina Emir said the girl converted to Islam on her own volition and was later married out according to Islamic rites.