Three Chibok Girls Narrate How They Escaped From Sambisa Forest
“The claim of people saying that the jihadists came to the school with so many vehicles is not true. No! Their vehicles were packed far away inside the bush. They came in and told us they had come to protect us from an impending danger, since there was no security in the school and immediately they started assembling us in a single file and marching us to the bush.”
Boko Haram: Didn’t we ask you not to go to English School?
Christian Girl: I was born here in Chibok and have never been to any Taboc School. I was born into a Christian home and will remain a Christian.
“We trekked the long distance into the bush where they had parked their lorries and other vehicles. Soon after, the vehicles began a voyage into the forest. We were five that were locked up in the booth of a car and we had no means of knowing how long; the journey took. We were just there until God knows how long; then they came to a final stop. While we were moving, the five of us were praying and hoping that people or the army would pursue and catch up with them. Eventually we entered Sambisa. When we entered Sambisa, we were given bread and water and told to eat. Of course, the girls were too angry to accept the offer of food. So, they refused to eat. The men attempted to persuade them to eat.
“On arrival, we discovered that an earlier batch had arrived the same destination that looked like the camp of militants. As soon as we arrived, Comfort came up with an idea that we look for a convenient place to ease ourselves. We told the men that we needed to ease ourselves and they allowed the three of us to go. After we walked some distance from the camp, Comfort said we should make haste and run away.
“The third girl, a Muslim, with fear written all over her, said we should not run away when we had not eaten and weak; but Comfort insisted that that was the only chance we had to escape. She added that she would not die in this forest”.
“We kept walking away from Sambisa forest. As we progressed in the escape bid, we met one man. He didn’t say anything to us. We didn’t know what he was doing inside the forest but we were too afraid to find out. Later, we met another woman who also didn’t talk to us.
“Eventually, we came to one village and met one Fulani man who gave us water and food. We were too hungry and thirsty and so we ate. He directed us where to follow to our village and so we continued the journey until we met two men . The men were kind; gave us water and clothes to change the ones we wore. Initially, we refused because we were afraid. We kept going, but one of the men followed us, saying they were only trying to help.
“As we went on, we met another man who told us to come and sleep in his house because it was night already and we entered the house, believing God had planted angels on our path to freedom. We entered and slept in his house. The man woke us up at about 3:00 a.m. and told us that the village people were wicked and if they found out we were there, they would kill us. He directed us where to follow, warning that if we saw any motorcycle or vehicle, we should enter the bush.
“He insisted that we should avoid being noticed by anybody. The man told us that when we hear a call to prayers, we should stop wherever we are until the prayer is finished. We saw a man and asked him direction to our village and he told us. We continued until we arrived Chibok where we met the army personnel. After narrating our story, they took us to the barracks where we took our bath and were given food to eat”.
Altogether, they spent five days between the time they were captured and the time they returned home.
“Like Saratu and Comfort, we also decided that there was no way the night would meet us in that thick forest. So, we followed the example of our two colleagues, pretending we needed to ease ourselves and, after much pleading, they allowed us thinking that we would be afraid and return in no time because of the fearful nature of the forest. We walked a long distance and always making sure none of the men was trailing us.
“All through the night, we continued our journey to freedom. We went without food and water for several days, hoping we would see persons who would be sympathetic to our plight.
“But no help came until dawn, the next day, when a Good Samaritan who heard our story, out of pity, gave us bread and water. He told us to be careful because the insurgents were operating in the neighborhood, seeking who to kidnap. With renewed strength, we continued even when we didn’t know where we were going.
“I have decided that, just like the Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, I am 17 years, and will devote the rest of my life to help my fellow womenfolk because the other girls and I were inside the forest together but I just had the opportunity to come out. Others didn’t have the opportunity; only a few of us did.
“So I have made up my mind to speak out against practices against the women and the silent girls who are still languishing in the forest at the mercy of a militant group, so that people will hear and come out like I did. Malala also had a similar experience and she came out,” Comfort boasted, vowing that she hopes to proceed to read law.
“I want to talk on behalf of the girls so that people will hear and bring the girls out.”
“The Boko Haram said education is not good for girls. They should go and get married. They told us there in the forest that it was an error for us to go to school instead of matrimonial homes. They also wanted us to convert to Islam.
“Majority of the girls in our school are Christians. Only a few of us are Muslims. They took us there with the aim of converting us to Islam after which they would marry out”.
“There are so many stories going around but I cannot tell since I have no communication with them. And none of them has escaped since then besides the eight of us who managed to escape”.
“The men were calling us idols and all sorts of names. They said their aim was to stop us from going to school”, she stated.
“There are teachers living in the school but they all ran away. So there was no form of protection at all. They burnt the school completely,” she said.