Recently, the Kano State Hisbah Board launched a coordinated raid on some hotels in the metropolis, where it arrested about 190 young girls and boys for alleged involvement in immoral acts.
The operatives said they made the arrest at night when people were expected to be at home.
The suspects were apprehended in various locations, including Sarina Hotel, La Sultana, Phicolo, Banana Island Green Park, Hospital Road, Danbare and Kabuga during a special operation (Operation Kawar da badala).
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that most of the arrested suspects were teenagers and were not indigenes of the state as most of them are from Katsina, Borno, Gombe, Plateau and even far away Niger Republic.
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Most of the arrested suspects who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said they were wrongly arrested as they were not guilty of what they were accused of.
Maryam Umar, 19, a student of Federal College of Agriculture, said she was at the hotel to buy food when she was arrested.
“I was at the hotel to buy food when I heard people chanting Allahu Akbar, and before I knew it, we were caught and put inside their vehicle,” she said.
Another girl who identified herself as Fatima Isa, told Daily Trust Saturday that she and her friend were at the place to buy roasted fish.
“I came to buy fish. I was about to leave the place when the Hisbah operatives arrived and we were arrested, alongside other girls. What pains me most is how we were identified by the Hisbah as yan iska (wayward).”
Ruqayya Aminu, 18, also a student of Federal College of Agriculture, accused Hisbah of the reason she missed her exams.
“We went to buy food at Sultana and were waiting for our order when they suddenly appeared. At first, we thought they were phone snatchers. I showed them my student identity card and told them that I had exams the next day but they still proceeded with their arrest,” she said.
Aisha, who said she sold snacks at Banana Island, accused Hisbah operatives of not being fair in their arrests, noting that no amount of threat would make her close her business.
“I sell snacks at Banana Island. Everybody knows that I tried my best to make them understand that I go there for business purposes, but all my pleas fell on deaf ears. This will not stop me from doing my business,” she said.
Ahmad Sani, 25, who claimed to be selling secondhand clothes at the Phicolo joint, appealed to Hisbah to release them as they were just there to earn a living.
Although this is not the first time the Hisbah Board made this kind of raid, the recent one generated mixed reactions among the people of Kano. While some are commending the Hisbah on its action, describing it as timely in order to stem the tide of moral indecency, some opposed it, saying it is wrong for the operatives to act on the assumption that any girl seen in a hotel is a prostitute.
But Alhaji Saadu Harba, a resident of Tukur Road, said residents of the area were very happy with Hisbah, urging them to continue.
“We are happy with Hisbah for taking this bold step in curtailing this. If you see what is happening in this area at night you will never think you are in Kano,” he said.
However, many people have faulted the manner in which the girls were arrested by the male operatives of the Hisbah Board, urging them to engage their female staff in the next operation.
Malam Ali Ado said, “I watched the video where some male Hisbah operatives were chasing the girls. We watched how they were putting the girls inside the vehicles. I challenged Hisbah on such action. Islamically, a man is not allowed to touch a woman that is not his muharram (women he will never marry).
I suggest that Hisbah should engage its female staff whenever it conducts such operation.
The country director, Centre for International Human Right, Colonel Kaoji Mohammed (retd), described Hisbah’s action as a violation of human rights.
“Even in Islam, it is not permissible for anybody to trespass into someone’s privacy. How can you enter people’s rooms in the name of arresting them? This absolutely goes against human right,” he said.
The deputy commandant-general of the Hisbah Board (operation), Dr Mujahid Aminudeen, insisted that his men conducted the raid under the law governing it, noting that it will not hesitate to continue with what it is doing to see that the people are on the right track and shun social vices.
“As you know, Hisbah was established under the law, so we are operating within the law that governs the Board. We launched a series of raids on hotels, tagged ‘Operation kau da badala’. Our men were able to go out on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 to 12pm and made arrests of those girls at various hotels in the metropolis,” he said.
Aminudeen said all the girls and boys arrested were already taken to court for prosecution.
“We screened and immediately referred them to the legal department for further action. And I can tell you that they have been arraigned before a Shariah Court where they would face the wrath of the law,” he said.
The Hisbah Board also cleared air on the allegation that it was after a few selected hotels whereas big ones remained untouchable.
He said, “This is not true. We are not selective. Are Sarina and La Sultana not big hotels? We are going to all the places where immoral acts take place, one after another. I assure you that we will not leave any stone unturned. Believe me, even this raid we are talking about was a hotelier that invited us for the operation.”
Daily Trust Saturday spoke to the general manager of Sarina Suites, Alhaji Bashir Muhammad Shehu, who said they were cooperating with Hisbah as they were partners in progress to make the state free from immoral acts.
“Actually, there was one man who rented some part of our hotel where he was operating a snacks business. He later introduced a shisha business where those girls gather and engage themselves in immoral acts. That is why we reported him to Hisbah.’’
Investigation by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that some of the arrested girls were HIV positive.
A lab scientist, Asmau Ahmad said 30 per cent of the arrested suspects who underwent medical tests were HIV positive. We took them to the hospital and they have already been put on medications.
Daily Trust Saturday also reports that all the girls and boys were arraigned before an Upper Shariáh Court on Post Office Road.
While some of the accused persons pleaded guilty to the charges, some denied committing the offence.
The prosecution counsel, Aminu Yargoje, told the court that they would produce the evidence in the next sitting to support their claim against the accused persons who denied the charges.
The presiding judge, Justice Jaafar Bashir Abdulkarim, granted all the accused persons bail on the condition that the surety must be a parent or close relative. He adjourned the case to November 30, 2023.