Aishat Maiangu Ali, 30, is one of the numerous women who had suffered greatly in Borno State when Gwoza town was taken over the Boko Haram insurgents two years ago.
arrating her ordeal to Daily Trust on Sunday, the mother-of-six recalled how she lied to five commanders of the sect who came to pay her dowry after they killed her children and her husband. She told them that she was HIV positive.
“On that fateful Friday when they captured Gwoza, many people were killed, including my husband. Many women hid their husbands under their roofs, but when the insurgents got to know, they started shooting sporadically and many were killed. Hundreds of men voluntarily joined the sect when they discovered that they could not escape the onslaught.
“I have six children, but four were killed, along with my husband. The insurgents thereafter named Gwoza their caliphate. I suffered unexplainable depression in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents. I can’t remember everything, but I know that many young women suffered as sex slaves. At a point, they took us to Mubi and Michika towns. They also moved us to a border village between Cameroon and Nigeria for several months before that Thursday when the army recaptured Gwoza. We never knew that we would see people again.
“After a month, things got worse as there was no food to eat. They told people that they would give them food and beautiful houses if they were ready to marry them. It was then that women and girls started marrying them in exchange for food.
“One Amir Abu came to my house and requested to marry me, but I refused because he was amongst those who killed my husband. I also felt that I didn’t need their food, house and other things because I did not know where they came from. Also, for them to be killing innocent people simply didn’t follow the rule of their so-called Sharia law, so I hated them. It was scarcity of food that led many young girls and women to marry them. I used to grind maize and millet for them because I had a grinding machine.
“When they kept coming to me for marriage, I lied that I was HIV positive. After a week, another Amir came, insisting that I marry him, but I lied to him again. So they arrested and put me in a separate room in their prison. After three days without water and food, they allowed me to go back home. So many women wondered why I didn’t marry them. I always told everyone that came to me that I knew I was HIV positive and didn’t want to destroy people’s lives.
“The pressure was too much for me as another Amir came. Again, I was arrested and kept in a room when the fifth Amir Isma’il requested I should marry him, but I refused and told him the same story. He started beating me. Despite this, I didn’t change my stance. They insisted that I should tell them the truth, but I said that was my health status,’’ she said.
Aishat further said she was shocked when they told her to take them to her father. “I took them to my father and he told them that I had been sick before my husband and children were killed. He said he was aware of my health status. That was how I escaped the marriage proposals of the five Boko Haram Amirs in Gwoza,’’ she concluded.
Also narrating her ordeal, Aishat’s friend, Binta Abubakar, said, “I have four children, one was taken away, the second killed and two others are still missing. I have suffered a lot in the hands of the Boko Haram insurgents.’’
Binta was a victim of sexual assault from the insurgents. According to her, the insurgents threatened to kill her if she refused to marry one of them. She succumbed to their threats because she did not believe that the Nigerian Army would recapture Gwoza.
She said her insurgent husband, Mohammed, boasted that his group would take over Maiduguri. But when the army bombarded the members of the sect last year, Mohammed was killed in a fierce battle.
Binta said she gave birth to a boy but later lost him. She further said that marriage to an insurgent was a hard decision for her to take, but considering how they were slaughtering people, she had no option but to accept their proposal.
“I realised that I made wrong choices, but my friend consoled me. There was a time I felt like killing myself,” she revealed.
She called on the federal government to assist in rehabilitating the victims of insurgency, adding that almost all the women in Gwoza are widows who are subjected to emotional and psychological trauma.