An eyewitness account of the exchange of the 82 Chibok girls with terrorists
By Emma Nnadozie,
Kumshe, a North Eastern suburb lying between Nigerian boundaries with Cameroun, last week, narrowly escaped being tagged Nigerian’s ground Zero, in remembrance of the bloody raid in USA on September 11, 2011. However, while that of America witnessed carnage of unequalled proportion where lives were lost, Kumshe comfortably adorn the toga ‘Middle Ground’ after it served as a peace making ground between Nigerian soldiers and members of the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram. The bloody carnage anticipated during negotiations for the town to serve as a middle ground for the exchange of Boko Haram terrorists with some of the Chibok girls that are being held in captivity by the terrorists, turned into celebration, world over.
Crime Guard was able to speak with an eyewitness to the seemingly mind-gripping event, with all its expectations and daunting task of seeing your long drawn battle-ready foe, disappear unhindered. The witness who pleaded for strict anonymity gave a captivating detail of the swapping of about 82 abducted Nigerian girls with ten of the most dreaded members of the terrorist group earlier captured by Nigerian gallant soldiers and ended up saying, “it was shocking seeing an enemy you have been desperately looking for, escape from your net, just like that.”
His account: “The closest town to the middle ground Kumshe is Banki. We liberated Banki from the hands of Boko Haram few weeks before the event. Initially, Cameroonian soldiers were in Banki but Boko Haram fighters drove them out of the town after a bloody battle. Irked by the effrontery of these terrorists, gallant Nigerian soldiers engaged them in a battle that lasted for just three hours and took over the town. We were proceeding to the next town, Kumshe when we were ordered to halt for some days. May be that was when they were negotiating to use the town as a middle ground for the exchange of our girls and their members.
“On the appointed day, we were just directed to be prepared for action. Few hours later, that was on Friday, we were moved to Kumshe and as soon as we got to a point there, we were ordered to go into the trenches and be at alert. As soon as we settled down, seven tinted air conditioned buses with Red Cross insignia arrived. It was in the evening time, around 7 to 8pm. While we were still waiting for the next order, hell was let loose as we sighted a convoy of 15 Hilux and gun trucks approaching our direction with hair- raising speed. Members of Boko Haram armed with sophisticated weapons were releasing bullets skywards and advancing dangerously towards us. In fact, we were anxiously waiting for the last minute order to start shooting when their vehicles screeched to a maddening halt, just a stone throw to our trenches.
Long wait for action
“Our Commander, a Brigadier General, then stepped out from his trench without arms, approached the first Boko Haram truck and halted. Few seconds later, a tall member of the sect and two others whose faces were masked stepped out and on approaching our General, their leader halted and exchanged handshake with him. They then spoke for some minutes after which our General signalled to some soldiers and they brought out a very heavy bag suspected to contain huge sums of crisp currency notes followed with the release of captured Boko Haram Commanders who stepped out from the Red Cross vehicle, blindfolded. We later learnt that the captured Commanders were brought from Abuja and Giwa barracks in Maiduguri. Surprisingly, the released Boko Haram Commanders were looking very robust and well fed while their counterparts that came to rescue them were looking exhausted and hungry. At that stage, the leader of the sect signalled to his men too, and our girls started coming out in a single file from their vehicles. As our girls were marching towards the side of our General, the captured Boko Haram Commanders were also marching towards the side of their members. While this exchange was going on, we were at full alert, hands on trigger waiting for directives while the Boko Haram members were also battle-ready, waiting for action. In fact, the precarious silence was deafening.
Freedom at last
“While our girls were going into the Red Cross air-conditioned vehicles, they were handed over Red Cross vests. As soon as they were all inside the buses, we were ordered to withdraw and we took off towards Banki, providing cover for our girls. While withdrawing, members of the sect watched every of our moves keenly before turning around to zoom off, towards Cameroun. . They were also releasing bullets sky wards as if it is inexhaustible. We arrived Banki later to the waiting presence of three helicopters that ferried the girls to Abuja. They completed the exercise Saturday morning.”