The Tuesday reunion came almost eight months after her abduction from Bayelsa to Kano State by Yunusa, aka Yellow, a regular customer at her mother’s food stall, in August last year.
In an exclusive, but brief chat with our correspondent at about 9.45pm, Ese sounded happy on the telephone.
She said, “Hello,” and laughed when our correspondent spoke to her.
“How are you?” Our correspondent asked. She laughed and replied ‘Fine.”
“We are glad you are safe and on your way back home.”
“Who is this,” she asked.
“How was your journey?”
“We have not started the journey, maybe tomorrow,” she said, probably referring to the onward trip to Bayelsa.
“Hope they treated you well and you are fine?”
“I am not fine,” she said curtly.
She replied, “When I come we should see. I don’t know you.”
“I will be looking forward to meeting you,” our correspondent replied.
Govs, reps call for Yunusa, accomplices’ trial
THE governors of Kano and Delta states, as well as members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday demanded the immediate prosecution of the abductor of 14-year-old Ese Oruru, Yunusa, aka Yellow, who also forced her into marriage and conversion to Islam.
The minor had on Monday been rescued from Kano State, where she had been taken to by her paedophile captor, Yunusa, barely 24 hours after The PUNCH newspapers inaugurated a campaign to free Ese.
Ese, who hails from Delta State, was abducted from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on August 12, 2015.
The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganguje, on Tuesday condemned the alleged abduction, adding nobody brought the matter to his attention, noting that he only got to know through the media.
This was contained in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mallam Mohammed Garba.
The state demanded the prosecution of Yunusa and others involved in the scandal.
The statement read in part, “The government condemns the actions of the alleged abductor, as it is against the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and teachings of Islam which abhor abduction, forced marriage even with the consent of parents of a girl, be her a minor or adult, and forced conversion to Islam, as the Quran categorically states that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’.
“Security and other relevant agencies should expedite action to bring the suspect(s) to book according to the law.”
The Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed shock at the abduction given the age of the girl and the lack of consent by her parents.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Okowa said he was saddened by the ordeal of the minor.
“I am very much interested in this case, not only because the girl is an indigene of Delta State, but for the rule of law. I want the police to pursue it to its logical conclusion. Nothing short of diligent prosecution of the abductors will be satisfactory,” he stated.
The governor, who expressed disappointment at the length of time it took to unravel the incident, urged members of the public to always speak up whenever they were victims of undesirable social vices and pledged that the state was taking steps to reach out to the parents for necessary intervention.
The House of Representatives members in Abuja on Tuesday also asked the Federal Government to bring the “full weight of the law” on Yunusa and other persons involved in the abduction to serve as a deterrent to others who might be planning such acts in the future.
The lawmakers said rescuing her was not a compensation for the fact that a crime had been committed and her fundamental human rights already violated.
The House Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, said the government must respond to the issue “more forcefully” by ensuring that Yunusa and his accomplices were adequately punished.
Ogor said, “Whether the girl has been rescued or not is not the issue because those people that are involved in the criminality must be made to face the wrath of the law.
“We should go further to find out who these culprits are. How were they able to perpetrate the crime? Who are their supporters? Who are the people behind this dastardly act? We must find them and make sure they face the wrath of the law.
“The public also must learn to speak out at this particular time so that some of these issues can easily be addressed.”
Ese hails from the Ugheli-North/Ugheli-South Federal Constituency in Delta State. Her Representative, Mr. Solomon Awhinahwi, also condemned the abduction.
“We have the laws to take care of this type of crime. We should enforce them. People should desist from acting as if we don’t have these laws,” he said.
Awhinahwi singled out PUNCH newspapers for commendation over the manner the media outfit inaugurates a campaign for the release of Ese.
“PUNCH newspapers did a marvellous job. The way they started reporting the story, keeping it on the front page, made the news to spread.
“I applaud the role of PUNCH in this fight and we thank all those who supported this fight,” he added.
Group, SAN back prosecution of Ese’s abductor
The Muslim Rights Concern has called for the arrest of Yunusa, aka Yellow, for abducting Ese Oruru from Bayelsa.
This is just as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Norrison Quakers, said Yunusa should be prosecuted and warned that the case should not be confused with religious sentiment.
MURIC in a statement on Tuesday by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, demanded that Yunusa should be prosecuted.
The statement read in part, “Our position is based on the fact that the girl is a minor. Attempting to marry off the girl without her parents’ permission is not only a breach of common law, but also a violation of the Sharia provision on the need for the parents’ approval before nikah (Islamic marriage) can be deemed valid (La nikah bila waliyyin).
“Of particular significance in this regard is the express command in the Glorious Qur’an that women should be married with the permission of their parents. The Qur’an says inter alia, ‘…And marry them (i.e. women) with the permission of their parents (Qur’an 4:25).’
“The boyfriend cannot go scot-free if it is established that he had had the carnal knowledge of the girl. In fact, his case is judiciable both before the Kano Sharia Court and the Yenagoa Court.
“The fact that Yunusa is a Muslim cannot becloud our sense of justice. The Qur’an commands Muslims to ‘…Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses of Allah, even if the case is against yourselves, or your parents, or your family, and whether it is against a rich or poor man… (Qur’an 4:135).”
MURIC said it could not afford to be partisan, adding that a fellow Muslim, Yunusa, had violated the law and caused a Christian family to go through a traumatic period.
It said, “Unless it can be proved that the girl came to Kano separately and alone, not in the company of Yunusa, the latter stands culpable.”
According to the group, the issue of Ese’s conversion does not even arise because she is deemed to be an adherent of her parents’ religion until she attains maturity.
MURIC said, “Section 38 (ii) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, stresses the right of parents on their children in matters of religion. The purported conversion is therefore null and void and of no consequence whatsoever. Ese Oruru cannot be free to choose her own faith until she is 18.”
Quakers while rejecting any excuse of elopement and calling for Yunusa’s prosecution, warned that the case should not be confused with religious sentiment.
Quakers said, “The excuse that the girl eloped with him will not protect him from being prosecuted. It is scandalous. The child does not have the mental capacity to make a rational or informed decision. It is wrong, wicked, criminal and inhuman for anybody to take such a girl, who is obviously a minor, and then say she eloped with him; that is a bad defence.
“And we should be very careful in the way we handle this, lest two religions are put on a collision course. This case has nothing to do with religion; we should not bring religious sentiment into this. The question should be whether the Nigerian law recognises what this man has done.”
Emir of Kano deserves no credit
The father of Ese, Mr. Charles Oruru, has indicted the Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi II, in his daughter’s travail.
Oruru, in an interview with Raypower FM, which was monitored by our correspondent on Tuesday, said Sanusi deserved no credit in the eventual release of Ese “as he only bowed to pressure from Nigerians”.
Ese was taken from Opolo, in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, to Kano State by Yunusa, aka Yellow, in August, 2015.
Oruru said, “The Emir did not play any role there. All security agencies in Yenagoa and in Abuja were also part of those who refused to help.
“That is the truth because when we got to Kano, we were told that the Emir had written a letter that the girl should be released on August 26, 2015, and this was not done.
“They wanted to keep the girl in Kano, but the pressure was everywhere after the whole world had heard about the matter, so he knew that if he didn’t release the girl, it would lead to a big problem.”
Sanusi had on Monday refuted claims that he sheltered Ese, saying he had ordered that the girl be taken to her parents since 2015.
The Emir, while speaking at a press conference, in his palace said he got to know that the girl was still in Kano when journalists from the BBC called him.
Sanusi had said, “Since the time we ordered that the girl be taken to her parents in Bayelsa through AIG Zone 1, we didn’t hear anything about her; just for us to now start hearing all kinds of stories that we are keeping her in our custody. This is injustice of the highest order.”
We can’t wait to see our sister
The family of Ese Oruru have expressed their joy over the release of the girl to the police.
Ese’s mother, Rose, told our correspondent before she left for Abuja that she was informed by the police at about 6am on Tuesday that her daughter had been released.
“I am so happy. In fact, I am bursting with joy,” she told our correspondent.
Afterwards, she left for the police station for onward movement to Abuja to reunite with her daughter, who was abducted by Yunusa, her long standing customer, and taken to Kano State in August 2015.
Ese’s release came after PUNCH inaugurated a campaign, ‘Free Ese’ on Sunday, which sparked nationwide outrage and forced the authorities to take action on securing the minor’s release from Yunusa in Kano.
Ese’s father also said he was earnestly waiting to set his eyes on his daughter.
He said, “These last eight months have not been easy for us. Through the help of family members and friends, we were able to raise money to travel to Kano to get her released, but nothing came out of it.
“Now we are happy. The money is not important. I am jobless for now, but I am so happy that my daughter is alive and coming back home.”
Ese’s siblings were equally ecstatic about her release.
One of them, Faith, who will be 19 next week, could not hide her joy as she spoke with our correspondent.
“I am very happy that she has been released. I can’t wait to see her. I have missed her funny smiles. She is very playful. I also missed her dancing; she likes to dance whenever she hears the sound of good music.”
Ese’s immediate elder brother, 16-year-old Onome, said they were planning to welcome her in a big way with her favourite food.
He said, “There will be music and lots of dancing. We are so relieved.
“We haven’t started preparing anything yet since we don’t really know when Ese and mum would be back. But we have so many plans, we just can’t wait.”
Patricia, the eldest, in her 20s, said she was keeping her emotions in check for now because of previous unfulfilled promises about Ese’s release.
“I don’t have any feelings yet until I touch my sister. I don’t have any plan yet until my mum calls me and tells me she has seen her daughter,” she said.
John Ameh, John Alechenu, Nosa Akenzua, Niyi Odebode and Ramon Oladimeji,Gbenro Adeoye and Arukaino Umukoro