How Life Was in Sambisa Forest, a ‘Repentant’ Boko Haram Recalls

Repentant Boko Haram Arabic teacher Ibrahim Suleiman has described the group’s practices in Sambisa Forest as barbaric and unislamic.

Suleiman revealed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Maiduguri on Wednesday.

NAN reports that Suleiman willingly surrendered to the military after escaping from Sambisa Forest along with his three children.

Narrating his experiences, he said he was forced to join the group following an unsuccessful mission to rescue his children aged between four and 10, who had been enlisted by his elder brother.

According to him, they were with the insurgents for six years.

“My brother was a member of Boko Haram and has been with the group for a very long time.

“When they were dislodged by the army in Maiduguri, he ran down to me in Kano and stayed with me for about one year. As at then, I never knew what he was up to.

“I was teaching Arabic students in Kano and at the same time doing small-scale business.

“Unfortunately my business crumbled and I had no money to continue keeping my brother and his wife; so, he moved from Kano to Gashuwa in Yobe State.’’

Suleiman said that life became very tough and unbearable after he and his wife got divorced, so he had to join his bother in Gashuwa.

According to him, his brother suddenly disappeared with his three children.

“I never knew what he was up to; until I realised that he had taken my three kids along with him to Sambisa.

“It took me 10 months to hear from him and then he confirmed to me that he and my kids were in Sambisa.

“When I ask why he took the kids with him without my knowledge, he replied, to my greatest shock, that they were in Sambisa forest doing God’s work.’’

Suleiman said he was compelled to join the group after all plea to his brother to return his children were unsuccessful.

Sambisa operation

“So, I called him and told him I was ready to join the fight for God. He was happy and asked me to come to Maiduguri and wait for his directions.

“He sent someone to pick me up and then he took me to a place along Damboa road where we waited for a whole day.

“On that day, my brother and his co-Boko Haram insurgents went for a mission at Buni Yadin in Yobe. After they came back for the mission, they took me to Sambisa.

“We went through about 30 Boko Haram camps at the forest before getting to our own camp.

“I finally saw my kids with other kids at the camp called ” Kandahar”. They asked me what I could do and I said I wanted to be an Arabic teacher.

“It was at that point I discovered that going out of the camp was impossible. So, I was forced to zero my mind and join them.

“I became an Arabic teacher at the camp; my salary was N200,000 monthly. So, I don’t participate in any mission; my job was just to teach Hadith, Fiqhu and Alqur’an.

“I was with them at Alagarno camp known as their spiritual home for one year.

“We then moved deep into Sambisa at Imam Abubakar Shekau’s camp. After the quarrel between Shekau and Mamman Nur, I picked the kids and parted with Mamman Nur to a separate camp.

“Shekau’s barbaric treatment of women, children and old people was what made us to part ways with him.’’

Suleiman said he managed to escape with his three children when the army attacked the camp at Lake Chad borders, while his brother and many other sect members were killed.

According to him, after traversing 10 Boko Haram camps, they spent about a month before getting to Maiduguri on a bicycle.

“I have never held a gun or killed anyone but I have seen many Boko Haram kill people.

“That was one thing that made me to run away was because all Boko Haram practices were barbaric, unislamic, inhuman and satanic.

“They take drugs, rape women and kill innocent people who don’t believe in them.

“They steal from the poor and starve their own members. So, everything they stand for is unislamic.

He thanked the military for giving them a new lease of life at the detention facilities, adding that his greatest fulfilment was “escaping with my three children from Sambisa Forest’’.

In a separate interview, Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, told NAN that quite a good number of the terrorists including some commanders, had surrendered and renounced their membership of the group.

Irabor said that the military had continued to record remarkable successes in decimating the terrorists’ activities.

“Boko Haram terrorists no longer pose a threat anymore as their weaknesses are increasing day by day.’’

Irabor said that a large number of the terrorists were taken out before they could detonate their Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while some of them who were hypnotised, detonated and killed themselves alone.

” We have mounted a lot of pressure on them; we have mounted a lot of shield, which is why many of them get caught before they cause havoc,” Irabor said.