How I Escaped From Captivity; One Of The 234 Girls Abducted By Boko Haram Recounts Experience

Apr. 27, 2014

The Paradigm

It’s been two weeks since over 200 girls of Government Girls’ Secondary, Chibok, Borno state where abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect.

The girls, who were mostly between 16 and 18 years old, had just finished their final school exams when the sect members rounded them up at gunpoint after overpowering a military guard assigned to the school. The school was the only one still open in the area following threats and previous attacks by the sect,

Recounting her experience, an 18-year-old finalist, Godiya Usman, one of the girls who jumped off the back of the truck they were driven in said even though she escaped, she feels trapped by survivor’s guilt.

She said she and her cousin huddled together as the insurgents stormed into their dorm room. “When my cousin Lami started crying, one of them pointed a gun to my head and said if she didn’t stop, he would shoot both of us. I held her and told her we had to just follow their instructions, but I was so scared I could barely even whisper the words.”

She began to panic as her cousin could not stop crying as they drove into the night. “They drove us into the forest and each time we got to a village, they stopped and started shooting and killing people and burning their houses. I told the girls in my truck that when we got to another village and they were busy attacking, we should all jump down and run into the forest.”

But the other girls, terrified by the dozens of armed men, were unable to keep to the plan. “When we got to another village, they started shooting. I jumped down and I was expecting my friends to jump too, but they didn’t. I just started crying and running into the bush,” Usman said, her voice breaking as she recounted the nightmare.

Hours later, she stumbled upon a group of other parents and local youths who were searching for the girls in the forest.

Also, one of the girls who escaped from the insurgents recently said their escape became possible when they were allowed to go to a nearby river to fetch water after the insurgents had set up camp for the night.

She said when they told them to go to the river and fetch water for cooking, they decided to escape into the bush, not knowing the direction of home. She added that not all the girls that escaped made it safely back to town as some were recaptured, while some were still roaming in the bush.

A resident of one village close to the route taken by the insurgents into the Sambisa Forest said the insurgents had been coming to their village in search of some of the girls that had escaped. He said the insurgents had warned them that anyone who assisted the girls would be killed if they didn’t disclose where they had taken the girls to.

While Godiya and 43 others escaped while they were been moved from the school, the other girls numbering 234 are still being held by members of the Boko Haram sect.

Parents of the abducted girls have made several attempts to secure the release of their daughters by combing unarmed, the vast forests where militant camps are located, but said they are now left with little or no faith that their girls would be rescued.

The parents turned around only after being warned by communities in the forest that their rag-tag group, armed with machetes and knives, would be gunned down by the militants, who wield sophisticated weapons.

Danuma Mpur, the chairman of the local parent-teacher association, whose two nieces are among the missing, said: “Even this morning we’ve had no update. We pinned our hopes on the government, but all that hope is turning to frustration. The town is under a veil of sorrow.”