Ifeoma Nicodemus, now aged 15, was reportedy kidnapped from her family from Zaria, Kaduna state and taken to Ebonyi State on September 14, 2014. There, she allegedly got married with Shehu Abdullahi, turned to Islam and hold against her will for about one and half year.
However, the police in the state, the teenager herself as well as Mr Abdullahi, who runs an Islamic school in the Samaru area, denied the abduction. Besides, Mr Abdullahi denied the marriage, saying he has been keeping custody of the girl based on a court order. Ifeoma also described her relationship with the man as father-daughter like.
Ifeoma’s father ordeal
Premium Times managed to take an interview Ifeoma’s father, with Nicodemus Odugusi, who gave his version of events. According to Mr Odugusi, at the time of the abduction the girl was just 14 and studied at Total Child Bible Secondary School in Samaru, Zaria.
When his daughter did not come home, her dad was in panic and searched everywhere for her but with no success. The next day he received a call from school informing him that his daughter was with them. Moreover, she changed her faith and was married off to Mr Abdullahi.
Since then (for the last 18 months) the desparate father has been trying to return his daughter back. He reported the incident to the Samaru Police Station in Zaria and hired a human rights lawyer, Ezekiel Dyagas, to initiate proceedings against Mr. Abdullahi.
He said: “I am a schoolteacher, so you can imagine my pains at watching another man truncates 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.”
After discovering that the proceedings of the abduction case was not recorded Mr Dyagas has suspected conspiracy. According to the lawyer, when Ifeoma’s family found her whereabouts — in Mr Abdullahi’s house — he simply told them he had married the 14-year-old after converting her to Islam.
Mr Abdullahi’s point of view
Reacting to the accusations, Shehu Abdullahi denied making any similar remarks, saying he already had a wife and couldn’t have tie the knot with the girl. Moreover, the Ifeoma herself came to a Sharia court asking to convert her to Islam, whereupon the court gave custody of her to Mr Abdullahi after she repeatedly refused to return to her parents.
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He said: “We even engage people close to her family to persuade her to return to her parents, but stood her ground. So I pleaded with her parent to be patient while we continue to try to reconcile her with them. I was the one who called the attention of her parent, and asked them to come and take her home, but she refused to follow them.”
“My name now is Aisha, and that’s what you should call me.”
During her interview with Premium Times reporter, the girl said she is not 15 but almost 19 years old.
“I’m married now, not to Mallam Shehu but to someone else. My parents are aware, and my sister recently came to my house. I just don’t wan’t to go home because I can’t live with my parent anymore. My name now is Aisha, and that’s what you should call me,” she said on telephone.
How police see the situation
The Divisional Police Officer in Samaru, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was Ifeoma who started the trouble and was extremely stubborn after her father threatened that she would not be allowed to practice Islam in his home.
“She 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 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.”
A similar controversial incident recently occurred with another teenage girl, Ese Oruru, who was allegedly kidnapped from Bayelsa state to Kano, forcibly converted to Islam, married off and impregnated by her alleged abductor and lover.