BY ANINO AGANBI
Mere mention of the name ‘Chibok’ these days resurrects sad memories of the over 200 kidnapped girls who still can’t return home. Today Woman to Woman brings you straight-from-the-heart tales from a native of Chibok, Borno State, who spoke with us in Lagos on anonymity. He tells of his escape from Chibok and why he will not accept his fiancee who happens to be in Boko Haram’s custody, if she ever gets released.
‘Chibok used to be a town were people would gladly live because of its serenity. Presently, it has become a ghost of its former self. Many are abandoning Chibok for Borno and other neighbouring towns as a result of the unrest in the town.
It was a very good town. The money you would get with difficulty in other states was gotten with ease back then. Most of the products sold there were planted and harvested by indigenes. Now, the economy of the region has diminished drastically. The kidnapping of the girls and even boys in the town has really caused most people to flee the town.
The lady I was to get married to was also among the girls kidnapped from Chibok. I am making arrangements to get married to someone else. My ex-fiancee and I were together for three years. It wasn’t a relationship arranged by my family. I saw her, liked her and decided to make her my wife. It was at that point I got my family and hers involved. But after so many months of despair following her kidnap, I decided to look for someone else to get married to.
Why I can’t accept her
I really do not know if she would ever be released or when it will be but if she is released, I won’t go back to her because I do not know what she would have gone through while with Boko Haram. Anything could have happened to her. Other people might be able to take her back, though. A member of my family happens to be one of the victims too.
Mobile network in Chibok
The people of Chibok can barely communicate with people in other places because there is hardly network there. If there was network, people would have been able to communicate with their friends and family to be sure of their safety. But because the telecommunication cables were cut by these insurgents people hardly get informed about imminent attack.
Living in perpetual fear
A lot of people have abandoned their farm lands. People are not only scared of going to the market for fear of being killed but also of sleeping at home. In most cases, you cannot sleep at home and even when you do, you leave home as early as possible because most times, these insurgents take you unaware. They could strike in the evening or morning. People still go to the market, although in fear and of course they do not stay in them for long to buy or sell wares.
Security in Chibok
They say there are a lot of soldiers in Chibok but I haven’t seen them in real action. In the midst of the battle, some of the army officials would even run to preserve their lives. I believe the army can fight and overpower Boko Haram. A lot of places are being bombed and you would discover that these days, it is women who are used to commit these atrocities. I have witnessed people being massacred but I thank God I was able to escape.
Thoughts on Boko Haram
Nobody really knows what the motive behind Boko Haram is. Everyone has a right to education but because of them, schools have been shut down.You cannot send your children to school for fear of them being killed or kidnapped. We do not know if all of this is political. We have always heard of insurgents in other countries but not in Nigeria. But now it has become the norm. There has been no concrete plan towards releasing those Chibok girls that are being held captive.
Call to government
The government needs to deploy more troops to Chibok and its environ to help people feel secured. More should be done for the release of the girls who were taken. Communication networks should also be restored.’