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Juliana Francis

The tortuous journey of Alfa Abdulsalam Salahudeen to prison was because of his Achilles. The renowned and influential Islamic scholar and preacher has an obsessive and sickening sexual interest in children.

The last sexual escapade that got him to life imprisonment was the sodomising of five years old pupil.

Incredibly, Alfa has an Arabic school, where young girls and boys, as young as one year old and above, were entrusted into his care.

He was not just entrusted to teach them about the tenets of the Holy Quran, he was also expected to teach morals. Following his arrest, people complained aloud it was ironic that such a man of God was actually expected to teach about morals.

They repeatedly stated that he had nothing moralistic to impart.

The cleric did not only betray the trust of the children, but also that of their parents. Nobody knew for how long he had been sexually molesting the children, but many alleged years. But in 2018 karma came calling.

Salahudeen, four years ago, was caught on camera defiling five years old in his Arabic school, which is located at the Alimosho area of Lagos State.

He was arrested and arraigned, but on the 5th of October 2022, Salahudeen was sentenced to life imprisonment in a judgement delivered by Justice Soladoye of the Special Offences Court, GRA Ikeja, Lagos State.

A child rights advocacy group, Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN) followed the case from the beginning, through trial and conviction.

The co-founder of ACVPN, Mr. Ebenezer Omajalile speaking with securitynewsalert, said ACVPN escalated the case after a mandated reporter reached out to the organisation between the 18th and 20th of December 2018.

Recalling the genesis of the battle against the convicted paedophile, an ecstatic Omajalile said: “The report was that the Islamic cleric was subjecting children under his tutelage to all forms of sexual molestation. This man was a highly respected Alfa, but he’s a psychopath. Initially, I didn’t take the mandated reporter seriously until she told me she had stopped a little girl of about five years old due to the way she was walking, and the response she got from the child was shocking. She has escalated to other human rights groups and platforms, but nobody responded due to the sensitivity of the case and the personality involved.”

Omajalile, applauding the tenacity of the mandated reporter, recalled: “The mandated reporter was on our necks and kept telling us that the Alfa was abusing children any day he had classes with them. But because the Muslim community saw him as a demigod, there was no use in telling them what she found out. In fact, he was so influential in the community that Muslim youths started dressing and speaking like him. We had to conduct a social inquiry to ascertain the truth. When we gathered enough facts, we had to dress like one the Muslim faithful and attend one of the prayer sessions. That was when I sneaked to the exact place in front of a prayer room where he used to sodomise children. I planted a Laser camera that captured him during the act with his favourite victim. We transferred the Laser recording card into a laptop and the phone which we presented to the appropriate authorities saddled with protecting and fighting for children. This was some days to Christmas.”

Omajalile further narrated: “Unfortunately, one of the state’s agencies didn’t bother to hear from us and didn’t bother to watch the video. The agency claimed that it was the Christmas period. We approached the then Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPO), a Chief Superintendent of Police, Chike Oti,  who presented the video evidence to the former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgar Imohimi. When the CP watched the video, he was shocked. After watching the video, the CP invited us on the 28th of December 2018 and asked how we got the video recording. He immediately sent for a senior officer from the State Investigation Bureau (SIB) who authenticated the video and immediately Edgar set up a crack team comprising SIB, Gender Unit and ACVPN.”

He further explained that on the 29th of December 2018, the team sets out for the Alimoso Local Government Area, where the crime was perpetrated by the cleric.

When the team wanted to arrest Salahudeen, he feigned ignorance and angrily denied the accusation from the team. The SIB arm of the team ransacked the mosque, asking for the register containing the names of the pupils in the Arabic school.  The Alfa did not produce any register.

“We were looking out for the particular five years old girl, which the mandated reporter told us and it was a difficult situation for us because we didn’t know her and could not identify her. We headed straight to her parents’ house which was about 100 metres from the mosque. Immediately we entered the compound, we saw the survivor’s mother. Someone was plaiting hair for her,” Omajalile stated.

He further narrated: “Immediately we mentioned her daughter’s name, she jumped up, panting, asking questions. We calmed her down and persuaded her to follow us so that we could identify the survivor. When we returned to the mosque, where the cleric was held by the Operatives of SIB. Most annoying was that the little girl was sitting by a corner where the Alfa used to sit. By the time we revealed to the survivor’s mother what Alfa had been doing to her daughter, she cried bitterly, especially when we asked her if she didn’t observe any unusual behaviour in her daughter.”

When the woman was asked if she observed changed behaviour in her little girl, she recalled that whenever she asked her daughter to attend the Arabic school, the child would start crying, acting rebellious.

When she was asked what she did after noticing the child’s penchant for crying and refusing to Arabic school, the woman replied that she used to beat the child mercilessly.

Omajalile said: “This was one of the reasons the girl could not tell her mother. The girl must have felt she had no choice because of her mother and started seeing and accepting what was happening to her as a way of life and eventually submitted to the Islamic cleric whenever he wanted.”

Salaudeen was arrested by the following officers from the State Command Ikeja SIB Unit, Inspector Dayo, Officer Harrison and Eniola.

“Over 25 children were taken from the mosque that fateful day. The youths initially refused to allow the police to arrest the Alfa. They were then shown the video; this immediately caused them to calm down. The next day the Lagos State Ministry of Youth took the children and subjected them to psycho-socio support. When Alfa was taken to the State Command’s interrogation room, he was asked if he knew why he was arrested and brought to SIB, and he said no. He was then shown the video where he was sexually molesting the girl. He immediately burst into tears, admitting to the crime. The Gender Unit, Ikeja, was asked to take over the case from the SIB following instructions from the CP.”

Determined that the matter should not be buried, ACVPN used its media team and partners to escalate it, demanding prosecution and justice for the child.

Omajalile noted: “If not for ACVPN’s aggressive follow-up and the cooperation of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DDP), we don’t know what would have happened. I gave elaborate evidence before Honorable Justice Soladoye of which the recorded video showed how Alfa molested the survivor. He first removed her panties and started sodomising her till he ejaculated. He then wiped himself and the survivor with a white handkerchief. At a point, there were several appeals applied by some Islamic clerics and organisations, but thanks to the resilience of the likes of Dr. Jide Martins, Mrs. Ayankanmi Momoh, Mr. George, Mrs. Bola Akisete and Mr. Shoneye; they all did wonderfully well. We received several threats from unknown self-acclaimed spiritualists. We also got calls of appreciation from all over the world from those who said they were real Muslims. In fact, a certain Sheik called and appreciated ACVPN, according to him, ‘a real Muslim will never do what Salaudeen did to those children.’ He further said if we had not tendered the video evidence, the Muslim community would have called for our heads for blaspheming a Muslim cleric. ACVPN followed up with several times adjourned dates at both the Special Offences Court and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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