Nigerians have said the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, was wrong to have waited for the Emir of Kano to rescue Ese Oruru, a minor who had been held against her parents’ consent for more than eight years.
Arase had on Sunday spoken about the failure of the police to rescue Ese despite being informed of the case since 2015, amid outrage after PUNCH launched the “Free Ese” campaign.
He said, “The Emir decided that he was going to mediate. But, because of his trip to Mecca with the President; that was what caused the delay. But now that he is back, we are going to sort it out as quickly as possible.”
He was, however, criticised for the comment by Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce, who stressed that it was his responsibility to not only free the girl but to ensure that those responsible for her travail were sanctioned.
We asked Nigerians who they think should be responsible for ensuring the freedom of Ese, between the IGP and Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.
Only a few people think the Emir should be responsible, as 94.4 per cent of people who responded to our question agreed that the IGP was responsible.
“He is the head of law enforcement agency for crying out loud,” a respondent said.
Another one said, “Because he is the chief security officer and has authority to release the said girl. Why should the Emir be the one to release the said girl? Is the Emir recognised by the Nigeria Constitution as a security officer?”
Some were surprised that the Emir was even expected to play a role in the matter.
“This is a democratic state in which the police are the enforcement agent. I’m surprised the issue of emir is coming up here; this is a case of kidnap. The girl needs to be in the police custody first to ensure her safety before other correspondence is made,” one of them said.
“This is a criminal matter, to say the least. Abduction is a breach of the Law. This is kidnapping, and the police should not be servile and feign helplessness in this affront on the law. The Police have a constitutional duty to free Ese. Is somebody afraid of his job?”
“Ese’s, an underage was taken away without her parents’ consent, forced into marriage and a strange religion was forced on her. It is a crime and Emir does not have any business with the case. It is pure illegality. IG of Police as the chief law enforcing officer should enforce her release in accordance to Nigerian law. Nigerian law supersedes any Sharia law. Nigeria is not a Moslem nation, but a secular one, and her release must be executed according to Nigerian law; and perpetrators must face the consequences of their actions.
Only 4.4 per cent of those that responded said the Emir was in the best position to set Ese free. They maintain that since the Emir is the traditional head of the Kano Emirate, he had the authority to dissolve any marriage agreement contracted under the traditional law in his domain. If the marriage contract is broken, then Ese can come home free, they reasoned.
“He is the head of the Kano Emirate and the Sharia law being enforced in his domain, Kano. He alone can dissolve the Muslim marriage and return Ese back to her parents,” a respondent said.
“As the Emir he has the utmost right,” another respondent said.
“The girl is now in his domain and he is knowledgeable enough in Islam to know if she is being detained against her wish or not,” another respondent said.