Lack of amenities for rehabilitation for drug addicts, mental ill problems and others, is responsible for Islamic rehabs all around the North.
By George Onmonya Daniel
The media all over the world have called it house of horror when about 400 people, young to old, were found in an Islamic school in Kaduna living in the most inhuman condition, some in chained, for years, in 26th September, 2019. When the police arrested the Islamic clerics running the place, some people, mostly some parents of the detained in the facility, came to defend the clerics. It turned out it’s with the consent of the family that these people were detained.
Another Islamic detention center was also discovered in Daura, the hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari, with about 300 people, living in the most inhuman condition.
These type of facilities have existed in the North for as long I know for the past forty years of my living in the north. It has been part and parcel of an Islamic culture in Nigeria.
In a clime where some people still see mental illness as being responsible by evil spirit of some sort, there is a belief that prayers and some form of strict discipline can cure it. Nowadays with the explosion of drug addiction, addicts are majority in such facilities where it is believed that prayers and teaching these patients Islamic morals can change them.
Some of the people in these facilities were seen as stubborn and parents brought them to get them straightened up. Some are heretic or did something against their religion or went against the wishes of their family which is seen as odd and unacceptable. They all end up in this dungeons. Majority if not all of them are kept there with the consent of their families, they pay certain fees to these Islamic clerics to keep them in these facilities.
Some of the people housed in the Islamic rehab and learning centers are even brought from as far as neighboring countries. Everyone knows about them.
When the world sees it as horror, the people in the North don’t see it as such. In modern terms it is horrible, even unbelievable, but everybody knows that these centers exist in the North.
Mental illness, drug addiction and some sort of abnormal behavior comes with stigmatization and families try to hide it all in these rehab centers, also hoping that the victim would change or get better and come back to live normal lives in society.
A friend who called me from Maiduguri said his cousin who is a drug addict was taken to such facility in Kano and he spent about two years there. The parents paid about N250,000, for his up-kept and kept sending money from time to time. After two years he was released only for him to still go back to drugs.
The rate of mental illnesses associated with drug addiction is at an epidemic level in Northern Nigeria. In fact President Buhari had to ban the syrup Codeine which has become the most common drug which is a cough syrup now one of the biggest drug for addicts. He also banned Tramal, an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. Despite such ban these drugs are still everywhere and being used all over. In fact spots where they are sold in Abuja with the knowledge of everyone still exist and the police and National Drug officials are on their payroll. It is so all over the country. There is simply noise but no intention to fight drug addiction.
Until mental health facilities are built all around the country and this sector is given serious attention by government, these types of facilities would exist. The complete neglect of mental health sector is the reason for the existence of some of these facilities.
These horror houses exist everywhere, even in the South. Sometime last year I visited Ebonyi State and saw some pastor chained over twenty people in some mountain used as prayer house. They were chained there in the open in the bush and these pastor, who is a mental case himself, is being paid by family to keep them there. Some of them are autistic. They were starved and the sight is horror. I wrote about it which was published in several online.
The Nigerian government should do something urgently about mental health diseases and issues.