Leah Sharibu is the only one yet to be released among the 112 girls abducted on February 19, 2018 from their hostel at the Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State. Recounting their ordeal in the hands of their abductors, one of Leah’s classmates said spending one month with the insurgents was such a terrifying and unforgettable experience she would not wish even her enemy. She said it all started one evening around 6pm when the Muslim faithful – students and teachers, were gathered at the mosque for evening prayer, and suddenly sporadic gunshots were heard all over the place. “It was a very frightful encounter, as we screamed for help and scampered for safety.
To our dismay, the insurgents had cordoned the place within a short period of time, but three of us were able to jump over the school fence and ran away amidst the confusion. “We had run far away from school but unfortunately, as we were about getting to our house, they caught up with us and picked us. We didn’t know they had followed us. They forced 113 of us into their truck. “I thought that was the end of my life because I have heard about the abduction of some school girls in Chibok. “We started moving deep into the desert. After travelling for long hours, some of us lamented that we had fasted so we needed water and something to eat.
They pleaded with us to be patient because they would soon get to where we could drink and eat. After a while, they stopped and brought drinks and groundnut which some of us refused to eat for fear of the unknown. “We spent three days passing through a river with the water level close to our necks. When we got to their den, they provided us with enough food items like rice, oil and some other ingredients and we cooked for ourselves. “Subsequently, we finished nine bags of rice. They brought hand processed maize grits which we also finished, and later grain dust (dusa). We were feeding on it before we were freed, but despite the hardship of captivity, there was no form sexual harassment.”
“Another source who shared her own experience said when the insurgents stormed their school, she ran away, but as she crossed the road, one of the assailants followed her and threatened to shoot her if she advanced.” She explained that as they were moving, they saw an air force surveillance jet hovering around but their captives put off their vehicles lights and continued moving. “After a while, they said there was an unpleasant smell from the truck which we didn’t even notice. It was unbelievable as we saw them evacuating the remains of five of us who must have died as a result of stampede.
We cried as they removed them and bury them in one single hole. “When we got to our destination, we spent a whole month without taking our bath because of water shortage. We were kept inside tents with hundreds of us sharing only two mats.” How Leah was identified as a Christian The former Dapchi school girl said they lamented of maltreatment among themselves when the insurgents started feeding them with grain dust. When Leah and two others couldn’t take their new food, they escaped to the nearest Fulani hamlet where they stayed for three days.
While the herders were trying to assist Leah and the two others to escape, they encountered the Boko Haram members who brought them back to the hideout. After their return, a member of the insurgents while interrogating them noticed that Leah speaks Hausa with a tribal accent, so he asked if she was a Christian but the other girls quickly answered in the negative and so he left. “Later, they came in a group and said we should point out the Christians among us, and if we refuse they would kill all of us but we resisted. Out of fear, one of us said there was a Christian among us but we still insisted that there was none.
When they intensified their threat to kill us all, Leah stood up and said she was a Christian. She said they could go ahead and kill her instead of killing all of us. “So, they separated her from us and kept her with three other women they brought later. “Before we were rescued, they said if Leah would convert to Islam, they would free all of us, so we tried as much as possible to convince her but she refused, saying she would never denounce her religion for fear of death.” The girls were shocked to learn that Leah has given birth after being married off to the Boko Haram Commander because they said nobody attempted to molest them sexually while they were in captivity.
A community leader, who happens to be a father to one of the abducted girls, said there was uneasiness in the town when the girls were abducted. “Our wives and children cried almost every day as we resorted to prayers for God to rescue our children,” he added. He said when the insurgents stormed the town, they rushed to the school to rescue the children, but they couldn’t because the insurgents had dominated the place shooting sporadically into the air. “One month after they returned our children, they instructed that no girl should return to the school.
When I saw my daughter, I was very happy though she sustained a serious injury on her leg. “Our only agony is Leah, who is yet to return, but we have been praying to God to intervene and we are still discussing with the authorities to something about her case.” Meanwhile, after most of the girls were transferred to various schools where they wrote their final exams, they are now at home. “The Federal Government assured that it would sponsor our education but we are still at home for almost two years now,” some of the girls lamented.