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OPINION….Sumayyah & Kashif: Marriage of Coercion, Radical Indoctrination or Freewill?



By Marufh Bello

Within the religious and the cultural context anywhere in the world, marriage is approved between two mature consented people and with certain clear procedures or processes. That is the decree about the nuptial union. But in some rare cases, marriages are consummated without these procedures and outside the agreed order. And when a marriage is done under the latter arrangement, issues might crop up for the society to grapple with or find a way to handle and settle whatever unpalatable situation such consummation is throwing up. Sumayyah and Kashif come to mind in this regard.

Sumayyah was admitted into the University of Ilorin in 2015 and as expected for any fresh student on any campus, some people would appear in the scene to make settlement into the new environment easy and fun for the new intakes. For Sumayyah, Kashif showed up. It was the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) that served as a nexus to connect both Sumayyah and Kashif.

A version of the story of Sumayyah and Khasif, according to a source, has it that during the reception of Sumayyah at the University of Ilorin, she was lodged in one MSSN hostel, a facility under the supervision of Kashif who ought to see to the integration of Sumayyah into the community properly. Soon, interest and relationship between Sumayyah and Kashif grew and they turned lovebirds. They started living as husband and wife off and on campus. It was a complete secret affair. Sumayyah got impregnated and was put in a family way on 15 September, 2018, at age 18, who might be having her second baby anytime soon.

The first pregnancy, according to investigations, occurred after a failed attempt to coerce the Adefakas into giving out Sumayyah in marriage at an “akidu” (a formal introductory meeting of the groom’s and bride’s families to know one another better) in Ijoko, Ogun State, on 24 November, 2017. The Adefakas accepted to meet the family of Khasif on the above-quoted date, maybe to formalize or discuss issues that would lead to the formalization of the union, only for the family to discover later that Sumayyah had been impregnated. The said “akidu” ended in a deadlock because the parents of Khasif who had agreed to attend the meeting did not show up. So, by 2018, Sumayyah had become a mother.

However, a source informed that Khasif met Sumayyah when he heard about her from another member of MSSN. According to the source, Khasif approached Sumayyah like every other man and Sumayyah agreed to live the rest of her life with him and she, therefore, requested him to meet her parents, which was why they went to Ijoko. Both Sumayyah and Khasif maintained that the akidu nikkah (marital introduction) at Ijoko was agreed to by both parents, only that the biological parents of Khasif were absent but represented by his parents’ siblings. A source close to the Adefakas informed that Bashir was shocked and unsatisfied when he saw a crowd that day and without the parents of the groom who had agreed with him on phone they would be there. On the contrary, as obtained from Alhaja Fatimah Abdulkareem, former President of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), who has been in the U.S. since 2016, Bashir Adefaka even put a phone call across to Alhaja Abdulkareem to congratulate her saying she was well represented at the Ijoko event. The relationship, which was rosy before, to the extent that the parents were in good terms regarding the union, suddenly became frosty. It was on record that both Kashif’s mother and Sumayyah’s father are of the same profession and were colleagues who respected each other.

Soon, the Adefakas claimed that Sumayyah had been snatched away from them through “indoctrination” into radical fundamentalism of an Islamic sect, Salaffi, which, the source claimed, Khasif belonged to. However, according to investigations, Khasif has denied membership of any radical Muslim Brotherhood in Ilorin. His mother stated that his son, Khasif, who is the third child of the woman journalist, did not belong to any radical group, “he is only more intense in his practice of Islam…”

When Prince Bashir Adefaka fruitlessly could not liberate and help her daughter, whom they claimed Khasif had radicalized Islamically, to “resettle” and lead a “normal life” again, he contracted a lawyer, Mr. Jimoh Saliu, to submit a petition on the matter to the police in Ilorin, Kwara State of Nigeria. The petition, which accused Khasif of abduction, radicalization, indoctrination and illegal marriage of Sumayyah Adefaka, was submitted on Friday, 29 November, 2019 and by 9, December, Kashif was already in the police net, according to sources. It was also discovered that both Khasif and Sumayyah’s dad had, at one time or the other, reported each other to the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) respectively before the final arrest of Khasif.

At the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Kwara State Police Command where the case was finally referred to, efforts were made by the officers at the command to establish whether Kashif legally married Sumayyah. Kashif told the force he married his wife at the consent of her father. He was asked to provide a proof after he informed the police that there was a video tape recorded during the consummation of his wedding to Sumayyah, a claim which Prince Adefaka countered and described the video as “doctored and distorted to misinform” and “mischievously” suit a selfish purpose. Thereafter, the police officers asked Kashif to bring any other documented proof. According to investigations, Kashif came back with a photocopied marriage certificate issued by a Sharia Court of Appeal in Ilorin. The photocopy, which was signed by two people, was rejected by the police and he was asked to produce the original copy. Soon, Kashif came back with the original copy carrying about six names, including Bashir Adefaka’s, but without signatures. It was at this point the police started suspecting perjury and deceit in this matter and after confirmation that the certificate was truly issued to Khasif by the court on a pretext, the police, therefore, threatened to detain and charge Khasif to court for abduction, forgery and an attempt to mislead public officers. However, Khasif has denied presenting two different marriage certificates to the police. Smelling rat about the legality of the marriage to Sumayyah, according to investigation, Khasif was said, in the video, which was presented to the court for the issuance of the marriage certificate, to have promised his wife “Bukhari and Muslim” (Books of Hadiths) as dowry, while it was written on the marriage certificate that the dowry was N35,000.00. One could also be bewildered by the fact that the said controversial “akidu” was done in the Ijoko Ogun State jurisdiction but the certificate of marriage was issued by a Sharia Court in the Ilorin jurisdiction.

All the same, the officers at the Anti-Trafficking Unit, according to the source, thereafter made efforts to make peace and release Sumayyah to her parents by charging Kashif to go and marry the young lady properly. Yes, at the peace meeting, somebody who was not a member of Khasif’s family, but an older friend of Khasif and allegedly a leader of the radical group to which Khasif was said to belong, hijacked the discussion and the meeting ended abruptly without success. So, the police decided to charge the case to court so as not appear to be taking sides.

Before and after this case was referred to the court, a lot of actors had come in to settle and rest the matter genuinely or otherwise. Dramatis personae, according to investigations, in this matter had included so far Mr. Idowu Salau, a representative of the family of Khasif, Mallam Mustapha Abubakar and Abu Khadija who were allegedly pointed to as the leaders of Salaffi radical Islamic organization. A lot of people in positions of authorities were said to be connected to this group.

The above peace meeting at the police station was said to have been scuttled by one Abu Khadija who hijacked the talk and lorded it over everybody, including Sumayyah’s father. After this deadlock, the case was referred to the Magistrate Court sitting in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Wednesday, 11 December, 2019. Kashif was granted bail as the court adjourned to 29 January, 2019, for mentioning.

However, while the court was in session, according to a source, it was asked who should take custody of Sumayyah before the matter would come up again. The judge was said to have answered that who to take custody remained the decision of the police. The police thereafter wished to handover Sumayyah to her parents but her reaction was very bad that it could be dangerous releasing her to them. Sumayyah, to the surprise of her parents, according to the source, told the police she would commit suicide if she was released to her parents. It was reported that she was very hostile to her parents to the extent she did not want to hear their voice, let alone touching her. This episode threw up fear and the police could not release Sumayyah to her parents. Then, it was decided she should stay at the Ilorin Welfare Home, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, with the hope that she would be calmed down pending mentioning in court on the fixed date. This was agreed on and she was kept in the home, with the understanding, according to the source, that Kashif would not have access to her to stabilise her before further mentioning.

However, according to a letter, “The Infamous Conducts of Members of Welfare Staff of Ministry of Women Affairs in Kwara State”, by the counsel to Adefaka’s family, Mr. Jimoh Saliu, dated 6 January, 2020 and was addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Kwara State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, it was alleged that Khasif and his relatives were having unhindered access to Sumayyah while in custody at the Welfare Home. The letter reads in part, “We are solicitors to Alhaji Bashir Adefaka referred to as “client”. It is in that capacity and upon his specific instruction we cause this letter to you.

“Following our petition submitted to the Kwara State Police Command, Ilorin, the daughter of our client was rescued from the claw of Kashif, a member of a radical ideological group.

“The police authority charged the suspect, Kashif, to court and temporarily kept the victim of the abduction for rehabilitation at the custody of the Kwara State Welfare Centre/Home.

“As a matter of emphasis, it is dawned on the police authority to exercise its discretion in that regard because of the impending threat of attack of Kashif’s group. Despite his arraignment in court, Kashif and his cohorts boasted that they could not subscribe to the release of Summayah, the victim of the abduction, to her father. Because of the gloomy atmosphere, the police kept a brainwashed girl in the custody of the Welfare Centre/Home of Kwara State.

“It is pertinent to state it clearly that Summayah, the abductee, has been hurling series of vituperation to her parent based on the orientation infused in her. She calls her parent “kafir” (unbelievers); she said it is an abomination to have any discussion with any of her brothers and sisters as it is regarded as forbidden.

“The member of staff of the Kwara State Welfare Centre/Home has deliberately compromised its statutory duties. Kashif, an accused before a Magistrate in Ilorin, has unrestrained freedom to have conversation with the abductee. And he further heightened his efforts to radicalise the victim through the cooperation and support of the welfare officials.

“On a sad note, we are impelled to say that the Welfare has decided or pretended not to know about the evolution of terrorism in Nigeria despite the huge resources the Nigerian state has expended to fight against it.

“We have clear-cut evidence that the welfare officials are one of the parties that is aiding and abetting the growth or operation of this ideological group via their efforts to facilitate the conversation of the duo.”

Since Sumayyah was housed in the Kwara State Welfare Home, a lot of efforts, according to further investigations, by the “family” and “relatives” of Khasif in form of persuasion, threats subtle intimidation and undue influence on the authorities to make Prince Adefaka back down from the case had been intensified. One of those on the side of Khasif was allegedly quoted as saying that his wife was a magistrate and he had a commissioner of police as a friend, emphasising that with this connection, it would be better for Bashir Adefaka, an Ondo prince, to back down from the case.

Kashif’s lawyer was also reportedly quoted as saying the marriage certificate did not need to be signed by anybody and maintain that a marriage certificate was not even a proof of marriage in Islam. Is that to say that a young man and a lady can decide to get married without the approval of their parents from both sides? Even if this stand of the lawyer holds any water, does this apply in the case of Khasif and Sumayyah who were 19, according to a source, and 16 respectively in 2015 when they had allegedly become husband and wife?

In all of this since the matter came up, investigations have revealed that it was not on record any time that the real biological parents of Kashif and Sumayyah had a joint face-to-face meeting on the marriage of their son and daughter, except in a telephone conversations, of particular was that of 29 June, 2019, when Mr. Tajudeen Kareem, the father of Khasif, told Prince Adefaka that he had instructed his son to go and marry Sumayyah properly, stressing in an audio that it was purely unIslamic to disobey one’s parents.

A source informed that the purported video of the akidu in “Lagos” being brandished as the evidence of approval of the marriage by the parents of Sumayyah was a fluke as Prince Adefaka was said to have denied giving his daughter’s hand in marriage to anybody, stressing that the biological parents of Khasif must be on the seat if any akidu or nikkah (marriage) would take place, who did not show up during the said akidu where the video with Kashif was recorded.

Any sane man would ask how a girl of 16 years in 2015 would tie a marital knot with a 19-year old young man and without the physical and active involvement of their biological parents, the usual camaraderie and mutual customary relationship that accompanies marriages in this part of the world. Even in the case of His Excellency, Sani Ahmed “Yerima”, former governor of Zamfara State and a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when he was attacked and awash with abuses and condemnation for taking an Egyptian minor, Mariam Eladly, “14”, as a wife in 2010, there was some evidence that the marriage was with the consent of the girl’s parents as it was reported that he paid the due pride price to the parents of the girl.

In Islam, which is the religion of both Kashif and Sumayyah, certain steps must be taken before a marriage is considered as approved and legal. One of the strongest of the conditions is that the bride’s parents must willingly and happily release their daughter to the groom, not through any form of coercion or pretence. However, Khasif was claiming Sumayyah was his wife legally married and Sumayyah accepting that to be true, while the parents of Sumayyah, particularly his father, Prince Adefaka insisting that he has not given his daughter’s hands in marriage because Khasif and his parents have not taken his consent. Could this stand of Sumayyah’s parents be true? Can one take Khasif’s and his wife’s words to be true? Has Kashif Abdulkareem contravened any Islamic or conventional law?

Sumayyah, according to investigations, claimed she got married to Khasif in 2017 at age 19 as she was born in 1998 while her daddy maintained that she had been married since 2015 when she got admitted into the University of Ilorin. As far as Sumayyah is concerned, Khasif, born 7 September, 1995, is her legal husband and Khasif claiming so too. One, therefore, wonders about what could have led to this Catch-22 situation where there is no common voice in this matter, particularly when Sumayyah’s parents were saying, on the one hand, that Khasif did not take their consent and Sumayyah herself, on the other hand, was not willing to go home with her parents. Investigations revealed that Sumayyah’s parents had noticed extremism in her when she informed her father that she would like to take niqqub (a veil covering her face) after she met Khasif, a practice which her father detests. Bashir Adefaka could have been angry perhaps having a strong feeling that his daughter had been brainwashed and being manipulated against his will and his supposed in-laws’ hard stance on the account of the fact that they had won the heart of his daughter because, according to another source, Adefaka did not reckon with the said akidu held in 2017 at Ijoko. One still wonders what could be the real cause or motive behind this face-off between the two families, particularly from Khasif’s? Show of power or superiority or fears on the part of the two families?

However, the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 forbids marriage with girls under 18. According to Mr. Orakwe Arinze, Head, Press and Public Relations Unit of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), in the Sunday Sun of May 2, 2010, “The consent of a girl (under 18) is immaterial. If that girl is 17 and a half, the Nigerian law and constitution say it is illegal… All over the world, the Child Rights Act is a global thing and Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Child Rights Act.”

Now, Sumayyah’s parents claim their daughter was “married” in 2015 at 16, while their daughter informed she got married at 19 in 2017. Sumayyah, whether under indoctrination or hallucination, sees Khasif as her legal husband and Khasif refers to Sumayyah in that light, while Sumayyah’s father is claiming that he has never consented the marriage. Where will the applicable law stay and wheel of justice swing in this matter is yet unknown. This complicated matter is left to the Magistrate Court in Ilorin to start sorting it out on Wednesday, 29 January, 2020.

Marufh is an independent journalist, writer, book editor, author and publisher.

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