By Uzair Adam Imam
The 12-year-old Boko Haram insurgency in North-Eastern Nigeria, especially Borno State, has led to a vast humanitarian disaster as it claimed more than 35,000 lives and displaced millions of people, according to local and international reports.
But one side of this catastrophe that is neglected is how hunger forced children orphaned by the insurgency and neglected by the Muslim community to be converted to Christianity.
Some of those children had witnessed how insurgents gruesomely killed their parents, leaving in them the hands of the helpless mothers.
The victims roam the silent streets of the suburb of Maiduguri bare-footed and are poorly and raggedly dressed, with nobody to even voice their frustration to. A large percentage of them have nowhere to call home or someone to brother or sister.
Such children were abandoned or taken to IDP camps to face other forms of abuse, torture, including sexual harassment for girlchild.
Giving an eyewitness account of this tragedy, a Borno-based scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Mustapha, narrated that after the mass killing of people by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, some Christian organizations came and took some of these orphans to their respective states.
Sheikh Muhammad Mustapha, who spoke on Sunday, December 26, 2021, during the graduation of 20 orphans trained and empowered by Khairat Islamic Trust (KIT), said the situation is unimaginable.
The foundation brought the orphans to Kano from Borno to help them open a new chapter in their lives.
He said if Muslim communities fail to take care of their [orphans] responsibilities, they will wake up and see all these orphans converted to Christianity one day.
He said, “Some of these orphans witnessed how their parents were merciless being killed by Boko Haram militant. As a result, they are left with no family – no one to call a brother or sister.
“After the mass killing by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, some Christian organizations came and took some of these orphans to their respective states.”
“Their aim is to convert them to Christianity and send them back to destabilize us in future because they look like us and speak our language. So we should try to stop this from happening.
Speaking also, the former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, who commended the foundation, decried how the orphans were.
Prof. Yahuza Bello lamented that many people do not consider helping orphans as something important.
“That is why Khairat Islamic Trust came up with this idea of supporting these orphans financially and also worked hard to ensure that they acquire moral, spiritual, skilful and academic training which would enable them to progress further,” he said.
Orphans recount ordeal
“I was growing up as an orphan. There was a time I came to my mother crying that I didn’t have new clothes to wear on a Sallah [Eid] day.”
“Pity was my mother who also burst into tears saying had it been my father was alive; I will not have cried for Sallah clothes.”
Many of them recalled how their life became hard after the demise of their parents and how they roamed streets endlessly until the foundation decided to give them a helping hand.