We ate weeds to survive, says woman held by Boko Haram for three years

Boko Haram

A 25-year-old housewife and mother of five, Aisha Bukar, on Monday narrated their ordeal in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents, saying she, her husband, mother-in-law and children, fed on “weeds” to survive.

Bukar, who escaped from captivity after the military bombed Boko Haram’s hideout in Sambisa Forest recently, told the News Agency of Nigeria that she escaped from the camp with her husband, mother in-law and the five children.

Recounting her ordeal, she said members of her family were incarcerated for about three years by the insurgents in the Sambisa forest.

She said the insurgents abducted them while working on a farm at Talala village in Damboa local government area of Borno.

She said they were denied food and drugs, following the refusal of her husband to fight for their group.

“We were working on the farm when the insurgents abducted me, my husband, children and mother in-law. They took us deep into Sambisa Forest, where we stayed for about three years.

“They asked my husband to take up arms and fight for them, a request he declined; they became infuriated and labelled him as stubborn; to break his will, they denied us food and drugs.

“We barely survived on leaves and weeds; we also relied on herbs when sick; they distributed food only to their fighters and those who submitted to their demands,” she said.

Bukar said the insurgents meted out inhuman treatments and abuses on women and children under their captivity.

She revealed that the insurgents compelled captives, including women and children, to attend preaching and lecture sessions.

“My husband was flogged on many occasions over his persistent absenteeism at the lecture sessions. His back is covered with ugly scars of injuries sustained from merciless beating by the insurgents.

“We suffered various ailments due to lack of food and drugs; my children are suffering from undernourishment and skin diseases.

“My sick husband is now at a military facility but they promised to release him after investigations,” she said.

Bukar claimed that hundreds of women and children incarcerated in the camp were starved to death, while many others died of cruelty in the hands of the insurgents.

She also revealed that hundreds of other captives escaped from the camp during the military air strike, as most of the insurgents were killed or wounded.