Month: May 2014

“We want the world to know that our girls have been abducted and we do not know where they are”

In this video, a father speaks on his daughter’s abduction from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State during a #BringBackOurGirls sit-in in Abuja 40 days after abduction took place. Abuja is the center of the #BringBackOurGirls activism. The daily sit-ins organized by former Min. Oby Ezekwesili and many notable figures in Nigerian civil society including Women’s Rights and Protection Alternative Haj. Saudatu Mahdi and Center for Democratic Development’s Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim are meant to keep the pressure on the government to act for the safe return of abducted girls. The father speaks in Hausa, and his words are translated by a participant at the sit-in. For more on the #BringBackOurGirls activism geared towards the return of the abducted girls, visit the website

 

“He insisted that death is everywhere and if it was his time to die he will die”

As this insurgency rages on, there have been alleged cases of extra-judicial killing by soldiers. In this interview,  a survivor talks to a TAP volunteer about how he lost his beloved father.
If you are interested in volunteering for TAP by helping with translations and/or interviews, or even contributing to TAP by sending in interviews of affected Nigerians in the northeastern part of the country, do send us an email at testimonialarchiveproject@gmail.com 
Salihu – Can you begin by telling us your name please
Mohammed – My name is Mohammed Sani
Salihu – From which state?
Mohammed – Yobe State
Salihu – Can you tell us how you have been  affected by the crises?
Mohammed – Yes, I can tell you. On Thursday around 4:30pm, I took some groceries to my parents house. But as I approached the area, I started hearing gun shots. As I tried hard to reach the house, a bullet nearly hit my motorcycle. Upon getting into the house, I gathered the women at home and we hid somewhere to wait for the shooting to end, but it went on for a while, up to around Maghrib prayer time (7pm).
So, early in the morning the next day, I told my dad that we should leave this area because many soldiers were being killed, but he refused, insisting that he won’t move, that death is everywhere and if it was  his time to die he will die. It wasn’t long after I left him (from what I was told) that soldiers came and brought them all out, interrogating them and asking them questions. My dad is poor and a motorcycle mechanic, and I also work in his garage, so I know everything he does. That is how they took them. The next day in the morning, my uncle and I went to where they were taken and we saw his body there, so we took him and buried him accordingly.
This is the brief story of what happened to us. He died and left many of us. We are 11 (his kids) and I’m the eldest. So that is why when I was approached about documenting our story I agreed to it. We need to say all that we know and answer all the questions we are asked concerning this, because only those that genuinely care about you would want to hear your story.
Salihu – just wanted to clarify one thing, are you certain its soldiers that killed your father or Boko Haram?
Victim – I’m quiet certain its soldiers and Mopol. Because there was a friend of mine who is about my age, he was also wounded with a bullet in his shoulder. He has since been treated and is recovering. Most of these things I heard from him — including my dad’s last words which he told them to pass to me. This is all I have to say regarding this.
Salihu – Thank you.

“Terrorism has no religion”

Sen. Ali Ndume, a representative from Borno State, address the gathering at the #BringBackOurGirls sit-in at Unity Fountain in Abuja

Sen. Ali Ndume, a representative from the local government in Borno State where 276 girls have been abducted, addresses the gathering at the #BringBackOurGirls sit-in at Unity Fountain in Abuja

Sen. Ali Ndume, a senator from Borno State representing Chibok Local Government where the abduction of 276 girls took place some three weeks ago, addressed a #BringBackOurGirls sit-in at Unity Fountain in Abuja. This  sit-in follows protests against Nigerian government’s seeming inaction following a mass abduction of schoolgirls from a boarding school while they were taking a science exam, and government’s eventual response casting doubt over the number of girl’s abducted.

Sen. Ndume has been accused in the past of funding the militant groups that have wrought havoc in the northeastern part of the country for years. In his address, he cleared the air on the number of girls missing, and gave some background on the community in which the abductions took place. He also addressed the accusations directed at him, and the issue of religion and ethnicity that have politicized the conflict.

This address was recording in writing while the Senator was speaking, and is therefore an edited version of his address. TAP apologizes for the lack of audio of the speech; there was no audio facility available at the time of the address.

I’m very impressed by the conduct of this gathering, as led by Oby Ezekwesili. I think I’ll just call her Oby. Thank you so much for having me.

Let us first start with the numbers, because that has been a focus of recent discussion.  179 girls was used initially because that is the number of girls that were taking the science exam. But you know how girls are, they like to stay together in groups with their friends, so other girls joined the initial number so they can read using the electricity. After the abduction happened, we did a search, but we were not many. Not enough people joined in, and it is a very wide area, so we could not find them.

I visited Chibok on the 21st April to talk to the parents. When we went and addressed parents, 2 people spoke on behalf of all the affected families. That’s when they heard 234 as of 21st April based on their register. I returned [to Abuja] and spoke to Sen Pres. David Mark, who said he’ll start on a motion [in the National Assembly]. But does the number matter? Even if it were just 1 or 5, would it be less of a tragedy? What is being done to get the children back? The 53 we have got are the number who escaped. So let me reiterate, the actual number of girls that have returned is 53. 

They now have confirmed to us the figure 276 as the number of girls abducted in total. Those who returned, 53. So that means 223 missing. Chibok is a small community that communicates within itself very well, so we called all the District Heads [of the local government]. We can confirm from the District Heads that 183 families across the various districts in the local government have missing girls. Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) is the only school with boarding, and its mixed. For this exam, because of security situation in Gwoza, [the authorities] have joined the schools. Chibok is one of those local governments that is big on education. Again, why would the number be an issue? As I said, distinguished ladies and gentlemen: There’s some things you can do as a group that I can’t do, regardless of my office. The more we tribalize it, the more it gets closer to you and me.

I’m a number one victim of Boko Haram. I’ve been accused of being a sponsor of Boko Haram. Martina and David are both my family. David is in a hospital in Keffi, as he unfortunately had an accident on his way here. 4 in my family are Christians. I was a Christian, too, when I was younger; my name was Samuel. My dad was a Muslim, and my mom who was employed by missionaries, was a Christian. David and Martina and Naomi, my sisters,  are Christians. My mom died a regional Christian leader. My second wife is a Christian; her brother who is a Muslim was killed in his sleep. So you see, this thing is not a religious thing. And I’m not even a Kanuri, just so you know. We need to know this. LRA did same, who were trying to impose Xtianity, employing these tactics: murder, rape, kidnapping. This is not about religion or tribe or any of these things.

Terrorism has no religion, no tribe. We should all collectively fight it.