A Boko Haram escapee shares her encounter in the hands of the insurgents with Punch reporters and how eight infants and mothers died in the forest while escaping Sambisa.
Ruth (not real name) was a second hand clothes trader in Mubi market, Adamawa state before she was captured by the insurgents. Although born a christian, she was made to convert to Islam and adopt a new name by the insurgents. She recalls having shared a cell with Leah Sharibu while she was in captivity, describing Leah as a prophetess and a healer who prayed and healed people in captivity. She said:
I recognise the picture, it is Leah. She refused to convert to Islam in the camp. There is a small wall separating us; so, we interacted well but when a ‘soldier’ was approaching, our interaction would be disrupted. She told us to continue praying and she led us in prayers. She told us that she and others were kidnapped from Dapchi in Yobe State.
Since she refused to convert, the soldiers told us that she was an infidel and that she should not be allowed to cook for us. Leah never attended the Islamic lesson. I am sure she is alive because I left her there. Leah is a strong believer in her faith with strong character also. Whenever any of us was ill, she would pray for us and we would be alright.
After I had the unpleasant child delivery, I was always having stomach pain. One day, Leah told me to have the belief that God could heal me. She laid her hand on my stomach and prayed for me. She was like a prophetess in captivity. She prays and heals people. She kept preaching and telling us that there is a supreme God that watches over us. Every day, we heard her pray.
Now a mother of one, having forcefully been married to a Boko Haram fighter in an improvised ceremony in the forest, Ruth had been faced with horror which was later compounded by a sojourn through the forest with a child in her arms when she escaped captivity.
Narrating her ordeal, she said:
I lost my parents long before I was abducted and the throat of my only sibling and half sister, Ngozi, was slit by the insurgents during a raid on Mubi while her two children were taken to the forest. She was an expectant mother when she was brutally murdered as a result of her refusal to dump her Christian faith.
After crossing three bridges blown up by the insurgents in the height of their attacks on towns and villages flanking the road leading to Borno State from Adamawa State, I was found in Shuwa, a town located between Michika and Madagali, about 60 kilometres off Sambisa Forest where I was once held as Boko Haram bride.
While others kidnapped with her had been released after the Federal Government negotiated with the sect, Leah is still in captivity for refusing to denounce her Christian faith.
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Photo Credit: New York Times