May 26, 2014
Many women and girls have been abducted by the Boko Haram sect in the past four years in Borno State, but this only attracted public attention after the abduction of more than 200 girls from the Government Secondary School Chibok on April 14.
Few victims of such abduction are willing to speak on their experiences after regaining freedom, findings show.
But Daily Trust gathered that the captives have been used as sex slaves, cooks and nurses. They also do the laundry of the sect members.
There have been many cases of abduction in Maiduguri, Bama, Konduga, Damboa, Gwoza, Marte and Mallam Fatori, but most abductees who managed to escape are reluctant to tell their stories, neither are their families. Only a few or those close to them spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of stigmatisation as the major reason when our correspondents approached them.
Many women and men, especially from the wealthy class, that were abducted regained freedom after their families paid ransom. Such people also prefer to remain silent after release.
The wife of a prominent politician and a businessman from Damboa was abducted and released the next day. The father of a serving commissioner in Borno State was also abducted and released many days after. Many of such families insist that nothing was paid before those abducted regained freedom. Sources said such families are apparently complying with the warning from their abductors to keep quiet.
Checks in Abbaganaram, Budum, Kofa Biyu, Ruwan Zafi and Gwange in Maiduguri metropolis reveal that many women have been abducted in the past three years. It was gathered from relations and competent sources that some have returned home while many others have become ‘war brides’ in the hands of their abductors. A 44 year old divorcee who lives around Muna General Area in Maiduguri said she was held for 17 days and was subjected to untold experiences, including rape by young boys that are of the same age with her son.
“I was severally raped by boys that were not more than 18 years,” she said. She said prior to the rout of Boko Haram insurgents from Maiduguri in mid 2013, four gunmen in a Golf car entered her house, took away her jewelleries and whisked her away.
“They took me to an unknown destination which I later found out to be Bulabulin-Ngrannam. The most painful part of the abduction is that throughout my stay in captivity, I was raped by boys that are as young as my first son who was 18 years old then. They (Boko Haram) learnt that I trade in gold. As such, while in their enclave, the boys would come over every morning, look at me with disdain and said I accumulated a lot of money but was not willing to give sadaqa (alms). They would then forcefully have sex with me,” she said.
She said after 17 days she was released but did not explain how. “I left many women there and I don’t know if they have been released or not,” she said.
A relative of another girl who was kidnapped in Bama in January this year said she was later dumped by her captors when she took ill.
“When she got missing for over two months, she was one day found by the roadside along Bama-Damboa road and taken to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH). She was diagnosed with spinal cord injury and we learnt that she was mercilessly raped and that caused the complications,” he said.
In May, 2013, shortly after the Boko Haram insurgents were driven from their camps in Marte LGA, some parents in Kanamma, the headquarters of the council, told our correspondent that their daughters were seized by the insurgents and many did not return.
A parent said, “The insurgents really had a field day here after chasing away security operatives for months. One of the insurgents approached me saying he wanted the hands of my daughter in marriage. A few days after, he returned with some of his friends and directed that the wedding Fatiha must be conducted that same day. He offered N2, 000 as dowry…that was all and they went away with my daughter”.
A parent in Gwange ward in Maiduguri whose daughter was taken and later released said he preferred not to talk. “I feel allowing her talk is like exposing her identity…what has happened has happened. Would you marry her if I allow you talk to her?” he asked.
Many parents in Maiduguri share the same view. To them, narrating their ordeals will only satisfy the curiosity of journalists and not heal the wounds of victims.