Christian Leaders in Nigeria’s Imo State Blame Islamic Education System for Insecurity

Mystic Monk Coffee

By Magdalene Kahiu

Jos, 17 September, 2021 / 9:17 pm (ACI Africa).

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the country’s Imo State has blamed the education system where children live with their teachers to pursue knowledge in Islam in the Northern part of the nation, Almajiranci, for the prevailing insecurity. 

In the Almajiranci, which is practiced in Northern Nigeria, poor parents surrender their parental obligations to an institution where their children are imparted with Islamic knowledge. The children, Almajiri, beg for food to feed themselves and their teachers, Mallams.

“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses, begging for food,” CAN Chairman in Imo State, Dr. Eches Divine Eches, has been quoted as saying Thursday, September 16. 

He adds that the Almajiri “are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday, they will leave the streets and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.”

“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation,” Dr. Eches says, and adds that measures should be taken to ensure the Almajiri are taken off the streets, given a sense of belonging, and helped to realize their potential.

Media reports indicate that there are seven million children enrolled in Almajiranci on the streets of Northern Nigeria, all drawn from the poorest backgrounds that cannot afford conventional education. 

Last year, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto blamed the problems of the Almajirai on the Muslim elite group in the West African country.  

“The Almajiri has become a scapegoat for the multiple sins of the Nigerian state in general and the Muslim Ummah in particular,” Bishop Kukah said in June 2020. 

He added that Almajiri and their Mallams are blamed for “being dirty and unkempt, miscreants, delinquents, nuisances to the society, petty thieves, prospective Boko Haram recruits, a stigma, an assault on our collective social sense of decency.”

“So, we identify the Mallam and his Almajiri more by their crimes than their names,” the Nigerian Bishop said. 

He also expressed concerns about the Almajiri being voiceless saying, “They do not speak for themselves.”

The Catholic Bishop reflected in reference to Almajiri, “If they had a chance, for example, they might say: Everyone calls me Almajiri. No one has asked me my name. We are in the millions but have only one name. I have no name. I have no father. I have no mother. I have no home. I have no town. I have no tribe. I have no address. The streets are my home. I do not know if I have brothers or sisters. I am an Almajiri. No one knows if I have feelings. No one has ever asked me what I want to be in life. I live for today and for the sake of Allah. I have no tomorrow except Allah gives me. Tomorrow is in the hands of Allah.”

In March, Governor Nair El-Rufai of Kaduna State called on those operating schools under the  Almajiranci system to vacate the Northern Nigeria State. 

Meanwhile, the Chairman of CAN in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph Hayab, has expressed concern about the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders from Sambisa forest to Southern Kaduna.

Local media reported that in a leaked memo, the Department of State Services (DSS) said a senior Boko Haram fighter alongside his foot soldiers were relocating to join their counterparts in Southern Kaduna.

The DSS, therefore, ordered the Nigeria Security and members of the Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to tighten security in the “aforementioned areas and environs,” adding that its operatives “should be placed on alert and report accordingly”, local media reported. 

In the September 17 media report, Hayab says that Boko Haram “fleeing from the North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion.”

The Pastor also lamented about the government’s failure to address the already present security concerns in South Kaduna.

“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU (Southern Kaduna People’s Union) and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.”

“The leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area,” he says.