How we escaped from Boko Haram, two Chibok girls

Emotions flowed freely yesterday as the issue of the abducted Chibok Secondary School Students was brought to the front burner in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) as two Chibok girls and opinion leaders called on the international community to join hands with the Nigerian government to rescue the remaining abducted girls.

Speaking yesterday at the on-going Global Education and Skill Forum (GESF) Conference at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, two Chibok girls using pseudonames, ‘Sa’a’ and ‘Rachel’ to hide their identities, expressed their displeasure at the inability of the Federal Government to rescue the remaining girls after the release of 21 of the girls by Boko Haram late last year.

In solidarity with the remaining abducted girls, 195 young girls drawn from across the world also wearing ‘BringBackOurGirls’ customised black attire joined Sa’a and Rachel at the conference podium after their remarkable and courageous address to demand for the immediate release of the remaining abducted girls.

The conference participants, comprising about 5,000 delegates from 140 countries, also expressed their commitment to securing release of the abducted girls by carrying ‘BringBackOurGirls’ placards to demand for their immediate release. Sa’a was one of the 276 students of the Chibok Secondary School in Borno State, who were abducted in April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram in Chibok; but she managed to escape a few hours after her abduction by jumping out of the moving truck. She then hid in the forest for several hours before a local herdsman saw her and guided her back to the town.

Sa’a, who disclosed that she experienced two different attacks from Boko Haram while studying in Nigeria, is presently in an undisclosed college in the United States, where she is currently studying with the aim of becoming a medical doctor. Rachel was also a victim of the Boko Haram attacks in Adamawa State

Her father and three brothers, who were 14, 12 and 10 years old respectively were killed the same day in 2014 when Boko Haram members attacked the church that her father had been assigned to protect. Sa’a, who wore dark sunglass to hide her identity while addressing the conference, said it is painful that the dreams of many of her colleagues, who aspired to be medical doctors like her, have been shattered by the inability of government and security agents to protect them at critical moment of their lives as well as their teachers who ran away before the attack.

Her words: “It is really painful knowing that 195 of my classmates are still missing. How would you feel if your own daughter, sister, wife got missing for more than two years? If your sister and daughter got missing not for one day, two days but three years and still not back, how would you sleep, how would you feel? It is painful.

“Some of their parents died because it is unbelievable that these girls are not back yet. Those girls have dreams but now the dreams are no more. A lot of them dreamt of becoming medical doctors and they are now becoming doctors in the bush.

It is really painful. I miss them a lot. “The world has to do something. One person, two people cannot do it; we all have to join hands together in doing something about it because those girls are human being; they are not people we can forget about. We need to speak out and do something.

The world leaders and everyone should join hands together and do something great to get those girls back as soon as possible. “I was happy that some of them came back home after almost two years but it is also sad that only 21 out of 219 came back.

When I saw the pictures of their faces when they came, they looked trouble, traumatised and different from the way when we were in school. They have babies. “If I didn’t make that decision that night to jump out of the vehicle, I might have been one of those that came back home with babies.

I might have been among those that died. I might have been one of the 195 that are still missing but I am happy that some of them were able to come back. One of my cousins was among them. “I was so excited the day I saw them dancing with their parents.

The smile on their faces gave me hope that one day, the rest will come back. They gave me hope and the courage to speak out because I felt that the reason why I am here today is to be the voice for my missing colleagues and tell my story and the world that it really happened. I have hope that one day, the rest of them will come back.”

Rachel, who was in school when her father and brothers were killed, said she is yet to fully recover from the death of her father and three brothers, adding that the ugly incident has made her to change her dream of becoming a medical doctor to becoming a military officer for her to be able to defend her country. Rachel, who also wore dark sunglasses while speaking at the conference, said: “The issue of Boko Haram is part of my own sad story. It was during the incident that I lost my father and my three younger brothers.

I was having a good plan and a good future ahead but because of what happened to me, it was destroyed because my father is no more and there is no one to help, no one to look up to, no one to tell the problems I am having. “I am not part of the abducted Chibok girls but I am from Chibok community. I was schooling at Federal Government College, Maiduguri but was later transferred to Adamawa State. I was there when Boko Haram came down to Mubi and attacked people.

Unfortunately, they shot my father and my three younger brothers to death. I am not comfortable because of a lot of things I have seen; dead bodies and a lot of people being injured. I really feel bad about it because I don’t know how you will feel if you are in my shoes.

“My mummy is also in trauma thinking of how we are going to make it in life because father is no more. So, I want to tell the world that this is what I am facing and this is the way I am feeling because it is hard. Come to think of either you lost your father or brothers; people that you have always been together with all the time and now they are no more. How will you feel? It is not a good feeling at all. “First, my ambition was to be a medical doctor but unfortunately when I lost my daddy and my three younger brothers, my ambition changed.

Now, I want to be a  military officer at the higher level to help my country and my community too to be in good hands and safe; to work and get a good nation. ” Narrating how she escaped from the Boko Haram few hours after her abduction with other girls, Rachel, who was 18 years in March 2014, said she jumped out from a moving truck because she felt that it was better for her parent to see her corpse than being subjected to anguish over a missing child. “While the Boko Haram was moving us in their truck, some girls started jumping out from the truck and I told one of my friends that I going to jump out off the truck too. I told her that if other girls could jump down and we didn’t see them anymore, the Boko Haram did not follow them and we didn’t hear anything, why couldn’t I try and jump out too.

“I said I would rather jump out of the truck and fall down and die, may be my parents would see my body than going with the Boko Haram and I would not be found. She said she too was going to jump out with me. So, I jumped out first while the truck was moving and I hid in the forest without knowing that my friend jumped after me. So, when they all left, I couldn’t see light and I couldn’t see any truck, they have moved far away.

“I just stood up in the dark and trying to figure out where I was. Then I heard my friend crying. She called my name, so I went and found her. I discovered that she had injured her ankles and couldn’t walk again. She was crying and we didn’t know what to do; we didn’t know where we were, so I tried to help her and we moved far away from where we jumped and we sat down under the tree until the next day in the morning. She cried the whole night. “The next morning I decided to go and look for help.

She told me that I should go home and let her die because she could walk again and no one to help us. I told her ‘no, I can’t leave you here’. I decided to look for help and I went through the forest until I found a Fulani man, a shepherd, who after some persuasion agreed to help us.

He put my friend on his bicycle and took her to a nearby village and from there we found a motorcycle that took us to Chibok. That was how I was able to get home,” she said as the crowd clapped in applause for her courage and determination to secure her freedom and that of her friend at a crucial moment. Rachel also disclosed that: “After getting back home, the Boko Haram released a video saying that if they find those of us who escaped, they were going to kill us and our families.

So, that really scared me and my family. So, that is why I am wearing sunglasses to protect myself and I am using different names to protect myself and also to protect my family back in Nigeria because they are not safe. If Boko Haram by any chance find about me or my family, there is every chance that they are going to kill them.”

Also speaking, the Coordinator of Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI), Emmanuel Ogebe, who is presently providing opportunities for many trouble indigenes of North-East to continue their education, despite various attacks they were subjected to in the past, also called on international community, especially United Kingdom and United States to join Nigerian government in rescuing the remaining abducted Chibok girls.

“There was a report in a United Kingdom publication that UK wanted to help Nigeria in finding the girls but the Nigerian government turned them down. The former president had denied that he turned down the help but it will be helpful if the United Kingdom investigated to find out if it can still help because there was a report that they have an idea of where the girls were; the same thing with the United States. Both countries can deploy their intelligent assets to recover the remaining girls,” he said

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