A 17-year-old Christian girl from the besieged Chibok village from which Boko Haram had abducted over 276 girls in 2014, has been kidnapped and forcibly married to a Muslim man.
Linda John Maina was one of the bride’s maids going to her cousin’s weddingbut never returned according to her her father, John Maina, in an interview with Global Christian News. A Muslim, who Linda’s father had never seen, abducted her and she has now been married to her abductor by a sharia court
John Maina, narrating his ordeal, said, “I came back from a trip on the 23 December, two days before Christmas, I was told that Linda, who was made one of the bridemaid in her cousin’s marriage, had supposedly gone for the wedding in Ubah town, but had not returned.
“The family was troubled and we were anxious, with the insecurity in the state. We were afraid if she was a victim of any of the recent attacks. We didn’t know where to go for help,” he said.
“On 28 December, I then received a summons, from the Sharia court located near the Post Office in Maiduguri, and was asked to appear in the court,” Maina said.
“I didn’t know what was going on so I called my brother, Pastor Ishaku Maina, and told him
about the court summons which was dated 27 December but was given to me a day later.” Maina said: “Seeing what was possibly going on, my brother, Ishaya then advised we sought legal counsel, which we did.”
John Maina told Global Christian News that he was surprised at the way the entire hearing went. “When we got to the court, there were lawyers representing my daughter’s abductors.” Which was not at all, what he expected.
During the proceedings, Maina said, “The court and the abductor’s lawyers didn’t even give our lawyer the opportunity to present our argument as they kept interrupting and cutting him short in his speeches. The lawyers argued that my daughter, Linda, always wanted to marry the Muslim man, but I had refused and objected to the marriage.”
Maina thought at least Linda will be called to say something but, “Linda was not even allowed to say a word in the court. They simply stated that I had objected to their marriage and that was it. They then asked the magistrate to give the girl in marriage to the man I only saw for the first time in the sharia court named Abubakar or something like that.”
Maina said he felt deeply insulted and humiliated when the abductor’s lawyers said the “husband” had come to the court “with the dowry, and presented N100,000 (approx. £250) to the court.”
“We left the court in anger. We went straight to a Church, not too far from the sharia court, with some pastors who came along to the court with us and prayed,” said Maina.
Barister Solomon, Maina’s lawyer said, “The rights of the father have been violated and we intend to move the case forward to the High court. Linda is 17 years old and by law, still under her father’s care, as far as our laws are concerned.”
Maina told Global Christian News that his daughter “had never said she wanted to get married to anyone, not to me or to anyone in the family. All she wanted was to go to a University or polytechnic. She just finished her secondary school June last year, and is awaiting the Senior Secondary School result. I was perusing getting her admission into Ramat polytechnic in Maiduguri.”
Maina said he has been unable to console Linda’s mother, Christiana, who is devastated. Linda is the third of her siblings. “This has never happened in the family and it has been very strange and shocking. Her mother has been crying and I don’t know how to console her.”
Distraught and trying not to show his frustration, Maina said, “all I have been doing is to try and do the best, give the best to my family. It looks like the Muslims think and see us Christians as slaves and can do whatever they want with us without any repercussions. Of course, they have the government and system behind them.”
Maina explained that his little business was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency in 2012 and was forced to go back to Chibok, his home town. Then the attack in Chibok, which eventually led to the abduction of the over 276 schoolgirls at the Government secondary school in 2014, escalated, he was then forced to move his family back to Maiduguri where, though still very volatile, there was at least security presence.
“I want to give my children the education they need and these people are doing their best to make sure Linda does not get the education she deserves. I didn’t give birth to children to be humiliated and destroyed in this manner.” Maina argued.
“What do I do? How are Christians taken to a sharia court? How does this happen?” He said.
Pastor Ishaya John who has assised Maina, said the Christian Association of Nigeria in Maiduguri is fully aware of this issue.
“Though it seems like there is not a full commitment to pursue the matter, even after the officials of the Association met with the State Security Service but it seemed there was a connivance with the Muslims not to release the girl.” John said. “Christian families continue to suffer this kind of issue. This is about the fifth case this year alone.”
“There is a deliberate, calculated plan by Muslims to destroy as many Christian girls as possible. To truncate their education abduct them and turn them into sex slaves and baby making machines. This is the shameful act we see coming from the Muslim community and if the sharia courts endorse and the law permits this destruction of Christian girls then it is a shame to say that Islam teaches this type of unethical and disgraceful practice.” Maina said.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos