Over 300 boys from as young as 5 years old have just been rescued in a Nigerian raid of what is being purported to be an Islamic school building.
Many of these boys had visible injuries and were found with chains around their ankles or chained to objects to keep them in bondage.
Rumors are also swirling that the boys were tortured, starved, and abused sexually at the Islamic "school."
According to one of Nigeria's police officers,
"The children gathered here are from all over the country… some of them were even chained. They were used, dehumanized, you can see it yourself."
Take a look at the breaking news of the horrific conditions these children were kept in prior to rescue:
Reuters has more details on how these poor boys were found and the conditions they suffered:
More than 300 boys and men, some as young as five and many in chains and bearing scars from beatings, have been rescued in a raid on a building that purported to be an Islamic school in northern Nigeria, police said on Friday.
Most of the freed captives seen by a Reuters reporter in the city of Kaduna were children, aged up to their late teens. Some shuffled with their ankles manacled and others were chained by their legs to large metal wheels to prevent escape.
One boy, held by the hand by a police officer as he walked unsteadily, had sores visible on his back that appeared consistent with injuries inflicted by a whip.
Some children had been brought from neighboring countries including Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana, police said, while others had been left by their parents in what they believed to be an Islamic school or rehabilitation center.
"This place is neither a rehab or an Islamic school because you can see it for yourselves," Kaduna state's police commissioner, Ali Janga, told reporters. "The children gathered here are from all over the country... some of them were even chained. They were used, dehumanized, you can see it yourself."
Kaduna police spokesman Yakubu Sabo said seven people who said they were teachers at the school had been arrested in Thursday's raid.
"The state government is currently providing food to the children who are between the ages of five and above," he said. It was not clear how long the captives had been held there.
Reports carried by local media said the captives had been tortured, starved and sexually abused. Reuters was not immediately able to confirm those details.
One young man, Hassan Yusuf, said he had been sent to the school because of concerns about his way of life following a few years studying abroad.
"They said my lifestyle has changed - I've become a Christian, I've left the Islamic way of life," said Yusuf, who did not specify the nature of his relationship with the people who sent him to the center.
The New York Times also said:
The Nigerian police have rescued more than 300 men and boys who were chained and starving in a building believed to be an Islamic school in the northern city of Kaduna, in what a police official on Friday described as a case involving human slavery.
Many of the captives were children who had metal chains around their ankles, a police spokesman, Yakubu Sabo, told Reuters. He said that at least seven teachers from the school had been arrested.
The police chief of Kaduna State, Ali Janga, told the BBC that the building had been raided on Thursday after a tip on what he called a “house of torture.”
The detainees were not all Nigerian, Mr. Janga said, and they had been tortured, sexually abused, starved and prevented from leaving, in some cases for years.
“The state government is currently providing food to the children who are between the ages of 5 and above,” Mr. Sabo said. “We have identified two of the children to have come from Burkina Faso, while most of them were brought by their parents from across mostly northern Nigerian states.” Others had been brought from Mali and Ghana, the police said.
Islamic schools, known as almajiri, are common across the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria. As a whole, the country is roughly evenly split between Christians and Muslims.
Northern Nigeria is the poorest part of a country, with most people living on less than $2 a day, and parents often opt to leave their children to board at the schools.
The schools have for years been dogged by accusations of abuse and charges that some children have been forced to beg on the streets of northern Nigerian cities.
Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the director of the Muslim Rights Concern, a Nigerian human rights organization, said about 10 million children in the northern part of the country are educated at Islamic schools.