What you should know about Ifeoma Nicodemus, the 15-year old girl ‘abducted’ in Zaria.
While Nigeria is still celebrating the release of Ese Oruru, the 14-year old girl who was recently reunited with her family after she was allegedly abducted and converted to Islam by a Muslim man who subsequently married her, a similar case has been uncovered by Premium Times in Zaria. According to reports, a 15-year old girl – Ifeoma Nicodemus – was abducted on September 14, 2014.
However, the various accounts of the abduction given by the parties involved seem quite contradictory.
Ifeoma’s father, Nicodemus Odugusi, is a school teacher who claims that his daughter has been held against her will by Shehu Abdullahi, the proprietor of an Islamic school in Zaria. In his interview with Premium Times, Nicodemus said that he started searching for his daughter who did not return home on September 14, 2014. However, he received a call the following day from a school in Zaria informing him that his daughter had resumed school as a Muslim convert and worse, she was now married to Shehu Abdullahi.
“I am a schoolteacher, so you can imagine my pains at watching another man truncate your child’s education. I have been to the Police; I have been to the Court and all the court said fell on deaf ears as far as Alhaji Shehu Abdullahi is concerned,” Nicodemus allegedly said.
Samaru police division
At the Samaru police station, where the case was first reported by Ifeoma’s father, the police stated that Ifeoma was not abducted and that her parents are not being straightforward about what really happened. According to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the police station, where the case was first reported, Ifeoma was the one at fault. The anonymous DPO said “She (Ifeoma) converted herself to Islam and then refused to return home. We intervened here, the commissioner of police intervened, and three times she ran away from her parents. The court then handed her over to Mallam Shehu (Abdullahi) and co. for custody. One day, we brought her to the station, and asked her parents to take her away. She refused. She said she preferred to be detained in our station rather than go home with her parents. We couldn’t keep her in the station because if she disappears, the commissioner of police will hold us responsible.”
Mr. Ezekiel Dyagas
Dyagas, a human rights lawyer from Zaria corroborated Nicodemus’ claim that Ifeoma was being held against her will. Also, he stated that Ifeoma was traced to Abdullahi’s home by her family, but Abdullahi told them that he had married the girl after converting her. He also complained about conspiracy in the court proceedings, saying that there was no record of the case against Abdullahi.
Shehu Abdullahi (the ‘abductor’)
Abdullahi claims that he is not married to Ifeoma. In his account, he said that it was Ifeoma that approached the Sharia court asking to be converted and that after her conversion, she refused to follow her parents back home. Abdullahi also reportedly said that one of the reasons why she refused to follow her parents was because her father threatened to not allow her practice her new religion, Islam, in his home.
Due to this conflict, the court appointed Abdullahi as a custodian. He said that he tried all he could to reconcile Ifeoma to her parents saying “we even engage people close to her family to persuade her to return to her parents, but stood her ground.”
She says she’s 19 (not 15 as her father said), her new name is Aisha and she’s married, but not to Shehu Abdullahi. Describing Abdullahi as a father figure, Aisha told Premium Times that her parents and family are well aware of her marriage. Before her ‘abduction’, Ifeoma was a student of Total Child Bible Secondary School in Zaria.
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