A Nigerian woman who was kept in captivity by Boko Haram with some of the Chibok schoolgirls has escaped and brought news of the girls to their parents, Reuters reported earlier this month.
Jumai, 35, from a town near Chibok, was captured with her six children in April 2014 – around the same time as the schoolgirls’ kidnapping from a Chibok secondary school. Her oldest son, who had joined Boko Haram, reportedly organised the escape of his mother and siblings. Once Jumai reached her town and the news of her escape spread, the parents of the Chibok schoolgirls rushed to see her for some information about their daughters.
The woman told the parents that 38 of the Chibok girls were kept in one camp and 25 others in a different location.
Jumai was able to identify one of the girls, Aisha, by her eye condition and through the photograph shown to her by the girl’s parents.
“[Jumai] told me that she was in the same camp as my daughter and five other Chibok girls,” Lawal Zannah, Aisha’s father, told Reuters.
“She said my daughter has been suffering from eye problems and I knew this was true because the eye trouble started before she was kidnapped.”
Other parents were disappointed by not receiving any update on their daughters and “shed tears”, Reuters said.
“We spent more than an hour interviewing the woman,” said one mother. “She said she can’t talk about my daughter because she didn’t see her.”
Speaking with Reuters on the phone, Jumai revealed that in the camp Boko Haram militants do not allow free movement for their wives. She said only one of the girls, Dorcas Yakubu, who had declared in a Boko Haram propaganda video that she was unwilling to return home, had some freedom.
The parents of the six girls – with whom Jumai had stayed and was able to identify – said to Reuters they are now relying upon the Nigerian government.
“Now that we have confirmed that our daughters are alive, we are begging them to try and rescue them,” Zannah said.
The Chairman of Chibok Girls Parents Association, Yakubu Nkenke, told Nigerian online magazine Daily Trust that some other women who had been able to escape Boko Haram said the girls are now being kept in two villages in northern Cameroon, the magazine reported yesterday (28 October).
“Seven of the abducted Chibok girls are living in Garin Magaji, while 50 others are held in Garin Mallam, where they live with their husbands and children,” Nkenke said.
After hearing the news the parents now expect the Nigerian authorities “to swing into action”, Nkenke said, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to collaborate with his Cameroonian counterpart to release the girls.