Habiba ‘Isa’ Ishaku, on Wednesday dissociated herself from a suit purportedly instituted on her behalf by the Stefanos Foundation and the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) over her conversion to Islam.
At first, it was reported that she was married to the 64-year-old monarch. But an Islamic group Jama’atu Izalatil Bidah wa Iqamatis Sunnah (JIBWIS) stated in October that the Emir was not the one who married her but “a young man named “Jamilu Lawal“.
The Emirate Council had said that the marriage and Isa’s conversion to Islam were voluntarily and willingly entered into by the girl.
The Emirate Council told officials of the Katsina State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), during a visit to the Emir, that no evidence suggests that the girl was forced to act against her wish.
When CAN officials visited, the Kaora Katsina, Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, called the girl in and asked her three questions on behalf of the Emirate Council.
He asked if she was forcefully converted to Islam, the girl said ‘No’. She also replied ‘No’ when she was asked if she was forced to marry the 64-year-old Emir.
Isa replied ‘Yes’ when she was asked if she was already experiencing monthly flow when she met the Emir.
Abdulkadir said: “The three questions are in line with the dictates of the Islamic religion. Since Isa has voluntarily answered the three questions in our presence, there is no going back on her marriage.”
The Katsina State Police, in a statement by its commissioner, Usman Abdullahi ,also advised the teenager to return home after their investigations revealed that she was abducted, or forced into Islam.
Her father, Ishaku Tanko, went to a Katsina High Court in collaboration with Trustees of Stefanos Foundation and ECWA to challenge the action, saying that Habiba was a minor (14 years old).
During the court sitting on Wednesday, the judge, Justice Baraka Iliyasu-Wali, drew the attention of the plaintiff and defence counsels to a letter addressed to the court by Habiba, disassociating herself from the suit.
In the letter, Habiba also disputed the claim that she is a minor, putting her age as 18.
In his submission, counsel to the plaintiff, Bawa Yakubu, urged the court to disregard the letter, arguing that since it was written in Hausa language, it should not be admitted as a document before the court.
He insisted that Habiba was still a minor, and therefore not legally entitled to take such decisions on her own.
However, the defence counsel, Abu Umar, averred that the subject matter in the case was Habiba, who had written the letter to the court disassociating herself from the case.
Umar maintained that the girl has the right to write to the court to inform it of her stand.
The counsel further argued that since the letter was written in Hausa language and
translated to the court in English language, then, it can stand as concrete document before the court.
“Even if she is a minor as argued by the defence, there is no law that prevent a minor from expressing his or her views according to the Nigerian Constitution. Habiba also told the court in her letter that she is 18 years and not 14 years, as been speculated,” he said, and prayed the court to accept the letter.
In her ruling, the judge said that Habiba would be summoned to appear before the court to explain whether she was the author of the letter or not.
She adjourned the case to January 25, for continuation of hearing.
Photo Credit: Olaide Oyelude/PUNCH