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UK-Based Christian Entity Decries “deliberate effort” to Extend Nigerian Professor’s Trial

Professor Richard Solomon Musa Tarfa. Credit: CSW

The leadership of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has expressed concern about what it calls “deliberate effort” to “indefinitely” delay the trial of a Nigerian professor who has been accused of running unregistered orphanages in the West African country. 

Professor Richard Solomon Musa Tarfa, co-founder of the Du Merci orphanages, was accused of forging a certificate of registration from the Kano State Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development. 

The forgery charge was submitted to the Court on June 24, a day when a previous case where the Prof. was accused of abducting 19 children from their legal guardians was dismissed.

In a Tuesday, November 23 report, CSW officials say the forgery charge against the Du Merci Co-founder was adjourned to this same day (November 23) but the hearing on that date only lasted around 20 minutes.

“It is hard not to conclude that a deliberate effort is underway to extend Professor Tarfa’s trial indefinitely,” CSW Founder President, Thomas Mervyn, says in the November 23 report.

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Mr. Mervyn adds that the lengthy adjournment of the case “prolongs an unnecessary ordeal to which the Tarfas and their family have now been subjected for nearly two years, depleting the family’s resources and compounding the suffering of the children, whose hopes of being reunited with their parents are raised and dashed with every new hearing.” 

The CSW official indicates that Prof. Tarfa’s lawyers have presented the court with evidence showing that the forgery accusations are unsubstantiated. 

He adds that the prosecution and the defense had been given 21 days starting September 27 to file their submissions but the prosecutor delayed in filing his case. 

“Professor Tarfa’s lawyer had filed his own case 17 days before the deadline, the prosecuting lawyer only filed his case a day before the hearing, on 22 November, claiming he had forgotten to do so, and thereby allowing insufficient time for the presiding judge to examine it and arrive at a verdict,” Mr. Mervyn says.

In the report, the CSW official also calls for the “swift and full acquittal” of the Professor. 

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He further urges the Kano State government to “expedite the return of all of the Du Merci children and to ensure that full reparations are made for the trauma caused to this family during this lengthy and flawed process.”      

Children from the Du Merci orphanages have been staying at the Nasarawa Children’s Home in Kano State since December 2019 when their shelters were raided by officers from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and arrested Prof. Tarfa. 

On November 9, CSW officials claimed that children from the Du Merci Centre are being mistreated at the Nasarawa Children’s Home on account of their religious beliefs.

They also said that one of the children, Moses Tarfa, was not receiving adequate treatment for injuries he acquired during a fire incident at the Nasarawa Home.

CSW Founder President called for the urgent treatment of Moses and urged the Kano State government to bring to an end the ordeals of the Du Merci children by returning them to their orphanage. 

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He also called for “urgent investigation into the wellbeing of all of the children in the Nasarawa Children’s Home to ensure safeguards are put in place to prevent any recurrence of this shocking incident.”