Ten-year-old Muttaka Bilyaminu had no idea what his action would provoke when he innocently reported his almajiri school teacher to a local chemist in Azare, Bauchi State. He had gone to the chemist to buy painkillers after he suffered severe body lacerations from a vicious beating by his Malam (teacher).
The male chemist, one Abdullahi Muhammad Bello, had asked him what drug he wanted to buy with only N20, and he replied in Hausa that he wanted anything to relieve his pain. Bilyaminu then pulled off his torn, dirty shirt to show the wounds on his back.
Horrified, the chemist treated him free-of-charge, took a picture of the lacerated body and posted it on his Facebook wall. The images provoked a public outrage that reverberated across the Katagum local government area of Azare, catching the eyes of the chairman of the local government, Musa Ahmad Azare.
Bilyaminu was beaten to the point of death by his almajiri teacher for allegedly failing to bring back money and cooked food from the daily alms begging the pupils are forced to do. The boy was afraid to come back home without money or food for his teacher. But having no other place to sleep, he reluctantly returned “home” to the beating of his life.
The social welfare officer of the local government, Mohammed Alkali, got a call from his chairman to look for the boy whose torn body was posted on Facebook.
Alkali first traced Bilyaminu’s teacher who linked him up with the boy’s father. After locating Bilyaminu, they went to the police station and signed an agreement where the teacher was ordered instantly to take the boy back to his father in Nafara, Birnin Kudu in Jigawa State.
However, when the LG chairman was informed about the arrangement, he did not give his consent. According to Alkali, who spoke to THE WHISTLER, “The Chairman asked that the boy should be taken back to his father in the company of one of us from the social welfare department, that he was not comfortable with the teacher taking the boy to his father alone.
“Although the boy was already on the way with his teacher going to Jigawa to meet his father, we asked the teacher to bring him back. But when we waited the following day and didn’t see him or the boy, we got worried and called the father to ask if his son had reached home and he said his son was not home.
“That was when the father also left home and started coming. It didn’t take long then his son came to us. Instead of bringing the boy himself, the teacher got scared and put him on a commercial bus that brought him back to us in Azare and ran away.”
Upon receiving both father and son in his house, the chairman instructed the boy’s father to take his son back home and enrol him in a conventional school. The chairman promised to be responsible for the boy’s education in a government school.
The chairman also bought new clothes for Bilyaminu and his two parents. He also gave the father enough money to expand his sugarcane business. He then gave Bilyaminu’s mother and stepmother money to take care of themselves.
Bilyaminu’s father, Mallam Yahaya, who spoke to THE WHISTLER from Jigawa state, said his son had started a government school and expressed gratitude to the chairman for taking responsibility for his child.
How Bilyaminu’s Father Sent Him To Almajiri School
Bilyaminu had found himself at Tsangayar Mallam Gwani Gambo located at Sabon Pegi, Kasuwan kaji in Katagum local government area of Azare, Bauchi state, after his 65-year old father divorced his mother over what he called a minor misunderstanding four years ago.
Mallam Yahaya, who is also an almajiri teacher, gave birth to 12 children, but only 8 are alive including Bilyaminu who is the only child from his divorced wife.
He said he could not take care of Bilyaminu and sent him to an almajiri school in far away Azare, Bauchi State when he came of age. He was sent to Mallam Isa to learn in the Tsangaya school where is a teacher.
Yahaya said the reason he didn’t allow his son to become one of his almajirai is because he wanted him to study harder.
“It’s good for us to give our own kids out to other almajiri teachers since people also bring their own to us. I also believe this way my son will concentrate and read better when he is away from home. I believe the teacher will take care of him very well. And if God helps us, when he grows, he can come and be checking on me as a parent,” he said.
He revealed that Bilyaminu’s teacher who’s now on the run was his former pupil. “I was the one that gave my son to him to go and train. One of my kids, the eldest, is in Ningi, also in almajiri school. He is already 8 years there now.”
He said what happened to Bilyaminu was the usual thing, and that the man who posted his son on social media was only “being mischievous.”
He said, “You know in everything we have people that always want to spread news to tarnish images. Somebody went and posted on social media that there is a teacher who flogged a student for failing to provide for him and he went ahead asking for people to come and assist. But we all know almajiris used to go round begging for alms or food.”
When THE WHISTLER asked Bilyaminu if he would like to go back to the almajiri school to study, he said: “No, I don’t want to go back to that school again.”