Nigerian Government Keeps Christian Orphans Hostage - International Christian Concern

2024-02-21 17:50:14


02/17/2024 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) - The 16 Christian children from Du Merci Orphanage will remain in Nigerian government custody. This is the latest decision in a four-year legal battle between Du Merci Orphanage Director, Professor Solomon Tarfa, and the government of Nigeria.

A judge from the Kano State High Court 12 says he has "too many cases to deal with that are more important," refusing to grant Tarfa and the children a trial. He urged the parties to settle outside of court, issuing a deadline of June 4, 2024, to "get back to him."

The case of the Du Merci children dates back to 2019 when Nigerian officials raided the Christian orphanage on Christmas Day. Police officers from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) confiscated 29 children and moved them to government-run facilities. Professor Tarfa was detained and imprisoned on alleged charges of kidnapping and abduction.

While in government custody, authorities split the children up, including siblings, and forced them to recite Arabic, study Islam, and attend prayers in a mosque. Since the children had Christian names, authorities reassigned them Muslim names.

In June 2021, Tarfa went before the Kano High Court and was acquitted of his kidnapping and abduction charges. However, a day before the trial was over, the prosecution presented forgery charges in connection with Du Merci's official registration document. Even though Professor Tarfa received the registration document from the government, the prosecution accused his document of being fake as it did not have a proper serial number. Professor Tarfa was found guilty and continued to stay in prison.

In April 2022, Tarfa appealed the forged document ruling, and almost a year later, the Court of Appeals discharged and acquitted Tarfa of all charges.

During the appeal trial, Professor Tarfa's niece testified that many of the children who come to Du Merci are through Tarfa's friend, a doctor who is asked to perform abortions. The doctor refers these women to Du Merci, who offers to take the children and allow the mother to reclaim custody later if she chooses to do so. The judge said this evidence proves Solomon Tarfa is a hero rather than a person worthy of punishment.

Now, Professor Tarfa wants the Nigerian government to be held accountable.

Tarfa has asked Kano State to pay reparations for his illegal imprisonment, false accusations, and the illegal confiscation of his children. The reparations would also cover the costs of rebuilding Du Merci Orphanage, which was demolished by the government, and the cost of rent for Professor Tarfa, his wife, and the released children, who had to relocate to an apartment.

Professor Tarfa continues to demand the release of 16 children who remain in government custody. ICC has documentation that these children continue to face mental and physical abuse, including burns and medical neglect.

The government refuses to pay Professor Tarfa for its wrongdoings, escalating the situation before the High Court 12 in Kano State. The judge's latest decision is gravely disappointing, as it pushes the potential release of the 16 children to June, making it more than 4.5 years since the children were first placed in custody.

ICC continues to pray for the children wrongly held by the Nigerian government. We pray that the authorities will recognize their wrongdoings, release the children, and repay Professor Tarfa and his wife the reparations they deserve.

2024-02-21 News