Nine Long Years: The Anniversary of Boko Haram’s 2014 Chibok attack

This month marks nine years since 275 girls were abducted from a secondary school in the village of Chibok, Nigeria. More than a hundred girls have since been released or managed to escape on their own, but there is still no precise information about the fate of about a hundred girls. They are either still in prison or have lost their lives.

April 14, 2014 in the evening, Boko Haram forces arrived in the village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria and kidnapped most of the girls from a government girls’ high school. Most of the 275 abducted girls were Christians.

Only 47 Chibok girls escaped the abduction or managed to escape soon after. Precious* spent three years in the camp.

Hijackers in disguise

Precious still remembers the day Boko Haram militants attacked the school.

“We were doing a test. They reached our dormitory and called us together. They posed as soldiers on patrol who wanted to stay with us for the night because they had heard that Boko Haram was planning an attack on our village. We thought they were real soldiers.

When we met, it turned out that they are Boko Haram men. When we heard that they had come to take us away, we started screaming and running in different directions. Some girls climbed over the fence and ran away,” recalls Precious.

“The fighters wanted to do as much damage as possible. They forced a girl to show the location of a grocery store and set it on fire. The girl also showed them the accommodations and they set them on fire as well.

They allowed us to go home as long as we were quiet because they didn’t want any noise until they had accomplished their mission. We agreed.

When we left, we were told that they would take us with them and that we would not be allowed to return to our homes. We started screaming, warning shots were fired into the air and they said that anyone who screams will be killed.”

The girls walked most of the way into the Sambisa Forest. In some sections, they were transported by trucks.

“They brought trucks and forced us into the cars. They threatened to shoot anyone who refused to come aboard. The car didn’t start until it was full of girls and armed men. In the end, a couple of girls could no longer fit on board. They were allowed to return home because there was no more room.”

Those girls who escaped or were released at an early stage can be considered lucky.

A prisoner in the middle of the forest

After traveling for four days, the kidnapped girls arrived at a camp deep in the Sambisa forest. The fighters immediately began to present their demands.

“There were a few Muslims among us, but we all had to convert to Islam. If we converted, we were promised good treatment and they would teach us to read the koran.

They divided us into two groups. Those who agreed to convert to Islam were given hijabs. Those who refused to convert to Islam were not given hijabs or food. Most of us refused to convert to Islam.

All the girls had to endure psychological manipulation. However, it was mostly directed against those who refused to convert to Islam.

They left us to fend for ourselves. We suffered for almost a month. When they realized that we would not renounce our faith, they threatened to find holy men among themselves who would kill us if we did not convert. Those of us who refused to convert prayed and fasted.

After spending two years in the camp, Precious heard rumors that the government might be negotiating for their release. Boko Haram took 22 girls with them. Unfortunately, Precious was not in that group and had to wait another year before she could return to her family.

Homecoming and a tarnished reputation

“After a year, they told us: “We are tired of you, girls. Get ready because we’re taking you home.” We didn’t believe them. We thought they were joking, as always. Often they promised to take us home, but they only went around the bushes with us and brought us back to the same place.”

On the road near the Sambisa forest, Precious and some other girls were handed over to the soldiers. Some in the village community took an interest in Precious because she had been held captive by Boko Haram for three years.

“Some people were afraid of us, some people saw us as bad people because of the time we spent with Boko Haram. We don’t care what they say, because only we know what we’ve been through.”

Today, Precious is married, has two children and dreams of graduating one day. Precious is grateful to the community of believers who have supported the Chibok girls in their suffering.

Open Doors continues to spread information about this issue, advocate it in the international congregation and encourage prayers for the girls and their parents. Our partners are working with the Chibok community to provide emergency aid and support to traumatized parents and released girls.

* Name changed.


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