Seventy-year-old Tanko Isiyaku in this interview with Friday Olokor tells the story of his daughter, Habiba’s marriage to one Jamilu Lawal said to be an aide to the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabiru Usman. Habiba is believed to have been forced into marriage despite her parents kicking against it. she is 14.
Kindly tell us about yourself.
My name is Isiyaku Tanko. I am from Warkaza community in Kudun Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State. I am a Christian and belong to the ECWA denomination. I am 70 years old.
When did you hear about the marriage of your daughter to Jamilu Lawal, believed to be an aide to the Emir of Katsina?
It was when she left home that we heard about it. She left home on August 16.
When was the last time you saw her?
It was when I went to see the state commissioner of police about the matter that I saw her last. I have forgotten the date.
Did you marry her off to him?
I did not do that. She was forced into marriage.
Do you know Jamilu Lawal?
Yes, he lived close to us in the community.
When you said he lived close to your family, was he a friend to your family?
No, not at all.
Do you know if there was an affair between him and your daughter?
Honestly, I do not think anything like that happened.
Before she was taken away, did you notice any change in your daughter’s behaviour especially her religious beliefs?
No, there was no such thing. She did not change in any way, not even in her religion. She is a very dedicated Christian who believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Is it true that you wrote the emirate council to apologise for any embarrassment you might have caused it on the issue of your daughter?
No. I was given a prepared form. I was only told to sign on it and with a threat that if I did not do so, they would kill me.
Did your family receive any money, precisely N50,000, as the bride price for her marriage to Lawal?
(Laughs).It is a lie from the pit of hell.
What would you want the government to do?
They should please help me and bring back my daughter. I want her to remain as she was before she was forcefully taken away from us. My daughter was a virgin before her abduction to the emir’s palace.
Is there a threat to your life and that of your family members because of the development?
I believe that I am fine. I believe that everything is alright; if God is for me, nothing can be against me.
What are you doing to get your daughter back since you said you did not give her out in marriage to Lawal or anybody?
I was forced to sign the form. I would not have allowed them to take her away from me. I was forced. I really want the Federal Government to support me because if they leave this battle for me, I won’t be able to do anything.
How old is she?
She is 14 years old.
Your daughter was asked three questions by the Kaora Katsina on behalf of the Katsina Emirate Council on whether she was forcefully converted to Islam, whether the emirate council or any other person forced her into the marriage and whether she was already menstruating at the time she met Lawal. She answered yes to the questions. Were you in the palace on that day?
Yes, I was. When they asked her to stand up and follow me, she refused to say she would not follow me. I believe that my daughter was charmed. The way I saw her that day was not the way my
daughter was. She has never disobeyed me.
Is it true that when you went to the palace you were threatened?
Yes, I was molested. I faced the serious threat, they even wanted to beat and mob me.
Did you go to the palace alone?
No, five people accompanied me there. They included Yahaya Umaru, Jiamakan Gabriel, Yusuf Haruna, Reverend Bankuru and Lubulumu.
How many children do you have?
I have eight children.
Are they all from the same woman?
Yes, from one woman. Habiba is my seventh child. I have four boys and four girls.
Has there been any of case of abduction of young female children for forced marriage in your community?
I have never seen any in my community. This is why I am very disturbed.
Are you not afraid your daughter could have been impregnated?
God will take control. I really do not know what to say as I am very disturbed at the moment. I pray such does not happen. She is still a small child. Before my daughter was taken away, she was a virgin but I do not know what is happening now. I want them to return my daughter to me as a virgin. That is what I want.
Has she started menstruating as the emirate council claimed before she met Lawal?
Honestly, I have never noticed anything of such.
What do you seek from President Muhammadu Buhari who is also from Katsina State regarding the matter?
I want President Muhammadu Buhari to assist me to get my daughter back. I desire nothing more.
Where is your wife?
She has travelled out of the community because the abduction of her daughter traumatised her. She has not been feeling well. I am also not feeling well at the moment because of the issue.
How did your other children receive the news of what happened to their sister?
Everybody is worried especially the last child who is a boy.
How old is your last child?
He clocked 12 years on Friday.
What class was your daughter before she was taken away?
She was in Junior Secondary School 3.
What has been the role of the police in the matter?
The Katsina State commissioner of police tried. He spoke strongly about the matter, telling them to give me back my daughter because she is a minor and still under her parents. He told them to allow her to go.