The dream of pretty fifteen-year-old Abigail John, a senior secondary two student of Government Day Secondary School, Jang, Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, was temporarily dashed on October 29, 2014 at 11.00am when the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists attacked Mubi and caught her in her house alongside others.
It will be recalled that after Mubi was overran by the terrorists, they changed its name to Madinatul Islam (City of Islam).
In this telephone conversation with Sunday Vanguard, Abigail recounts her ordeal.
According to Abigail, the terrorists abducted her from her home and took her alongside other victims to their hideout.
Corpses littered the ground: “As we were being taken to the place, we saw so many corpses of men littering the ground. They took us across the road to another house where we were kept. In the night, they brought bread and drinks for us to eat for supper. There was no serious event that night until the following day. In the morning, we were given bread and other things for breakfast and later, they cooked and served us. Thereafter, one of the Boko Harm members started preaching Islam to us.”
Military intervention: “While this preaching was going on, a military jet came in and dropped a bomb very close to the house. Moments later, they dropped a second bomb which hit the building where we were kept. When the aircraft was approaching to drop the second bomb, the terrorists forced us into the main house while they escaped. Only one of the terrorists was struck by the bomb, the rest ran away. Some of the abducted people in the house – five women and a child – died but most of the people were injured. Those who were not affected by the bomb managed to escape.”
Treating the injured: Abigail was not lucky enough to escape as she was injured. She continues: “I was among the injured so we were put in Keke Napep (tricycles) and taken to a clinic. At the clinic, I saw one woman whose leg was amputated, they gave her anesthesia and sleeping tablets to reduce the pain and enable her sleep. Various treatments were administered to the injured. We were then taken to a house close to the clinic.”
Change of name: “The following day, October 31, we were served breakfast and they did not try to Islamize those of us who were injured although they kept preaching to us and changed our names. My name was changed from Abigail to Zainab. Those who were recaptured after the bomb blast that were not injured had to do the ablutions and forced to profess Islam. Their names were also changed. They made new attires and long scarves for each of us. So we all had to wear that as a sign that we were living under an Islamic caliphate.”
Relocation: “Because so many people (Boko Haram members) kept coming to that house where we were kept, the Boko Haram commanders decided it was not safe to leave us there so we were relocated to another house, both the injured and those who were recaptured in Mubi.
“We were taught how to recite some verses of the Koran. Those who were slightly injured were taught how to say the Moslem prayer five times a day.”
Terrorists flee: “On the first Sunday of December when the terrorists got wind of the fact that soldiers were advancing towards Mubi, the terrorists and some of their female members that came along with the registered members ran away and left us in that house. When some of the abducted ladies who were not injured discovered that the terrorists were gone, they also escaped and left those of us that were injured.”
It is said that what a man can do, a woman can do even better. One of the female terrorists proved that to be true. According to Abigail, while the men and other female terrorists escaped, one female terrorist remained behind to guard the victims.
Said Abigail: “There was a female Boko Haram member who was stubborn enough to stay back to guard us. She started relocating some of the foodstuff in that house to another house. She also left and locked us in so we could not leave the compound at all.”
Escape: “Two girls among us who were not too badly injured, scaled the fence to go and report to the military that we were held hostage in that house. That was how the military got to know that there were people in the house. When those girls scaled the wall, they saw a little boy passing by and convinced him to break the door open for them before the military arrived. So after the boy got the door open, we were able to send message to the soldiers and informed them of our plight. We also informed the soldiers that a Boko Haram woman had been guarding the house. Unfortunately, the woman didn’t come back that day because she must have got wind of the fact that soldiers had come around that area.
“A few days later, she felt the soldiers would not come back to the place again so she came to see how we were faring. The soldiers couldn’t move us out immediately because of our injuries. So they arrested her and took her to the military base in Yola.”
“I have a broken arm and honestly, I don’t know how it got broken but it was after the bomb attack that I discovered I had a broken arm. While in captivity, the terrorists brought a traditional healer to treat the hand. I have been in great pains,” said Abigail.
Abigail is now undergoing treatment with the help of the Catholic Diocese of Yola.
Abigail counts herself somehow lucky as she noted that if not for the injury, perhaps she would have been raped and taken to Sambisa forest. “They surrounded the house where we were kept but thank God, they did not rape us, especially those of us who were captured in Mubi.”
Asked if she will want to go back to school, Abigail who wants to become a lawyer and practise in Lagos or Abuja, said: “I am scared to go back to Jang or Mubi but I want to continue my education.”
Abigail’s mother: Mrs Rebecca John had this to say about her daughter’s abduction and eventual escape: “I was not in town when she was abducted. I had gone to see my sister in a nearby town. My son, Lucky also got missing at the same time. He is really lucky because he was found on January 7. Nobody knew his whereabouts in the past eight weeks.”