This little boy who is a survivor of Boko Haram abduction and captivity in north eastern Nigeria, as well as military detention and investigation.
A young boy who who is a survivor of Boko Haram abduction and captivity in north eastern Nigeria – as well as military detention and investigation.
This little boy is bright-eyed and polite. He is learning English and proudly counts up to 30. He is probably about 6, but he doesn’t know for sure and there is no family here to tell us. His face crumples and his eyes cloud over and well up with tears as he tells his story. “My father is dead, and my mother is in the bush,” he says, speaking Hausa, the lingua franca in northern Nigeria. “It was when Boko Haram came to our village. They drove us out and snatched me and my siblings and our mother.” He has two brothers. A cousin was also abducted. “When they took us to the bush, my father followed and tried to rescue us,” he continues. “When they realized my father was trying to take us back, Boko Haram killed him.”
“I was frightened of staying there. And the worst thing was when Boko Haram took us away from where we were with our mother so that we could go to school. And that’s how our family was split up.”One night, he, his brother and cousin decided they had had enough so, under cover of darkness, they sneaked out of the village. That is how they escaped and reached a village where the Nigerian military found them. “It was the soldiers that brought us to Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri,” he says. That’s the main military barracks in the capital of Borno state — and the birthplace of Boko Haram.
“They did not maltreat us, but they gave us instructions about what to do and what not to do,” he says. “They wouldn’t allow us to leave the compound. And if you fight each other or if you’re found trying to sneak out of your cell, they’re going to beat you. Those were the rules in the barracks.” The three of them were held in military custody for interrogation and investigation for many months, says this young survivor of Boko Haram captivity. Still horrified, he describes a harrowing time with the military. “Former captives were herded in their dozens into small rooms,” he remembers. “It was stifling hot and babies were dying,” he says.