Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: Imagine being abducted in the prime of your life, taken away from all that you know and love: your village, your family, your church. This is life for many Christian women in northern Nigeria who have been taken by Islamist militants from Boko Haram.  They are being forced to witness brutal executions, to renounce their Christian faith, to marry combatants, and experience regular arbitrary beatings.

By Chika Oduah

Yola, Nigeria 3/23/15 (Al Jazeera America) – There is a house in Gulak, with a neem tree out front and a well in the back. Inside, dozens of women and girls spent days, weeks and even months waiting for a chance to escape their captors — members of the radical armed group Boko Haram.

The house is in Adamawa state in Nigeria’s northeast, not far from the border with Borno state, where Boko Haram fighters have killed civilians indiscriminately for nearly six years under the guise of establishing a state ruled by their extreme interpretation of Sharia. In Boko Haram’s wake are razed villages, slaughtered men and women and the nightmares of hundreds of women and girls who have been abducted.

The house in Gulak had a tall barbed-wire fence around it — a fence 24-year-old single mother Mercy Ishaya vowed to find a way over. Ishaya is one of three Nigerian women interviewed separately by Al Jazeera who, according to their descriptions of the house and events, appear to have been held in the same building.

Her baby boy was waiting for her in the mountains along the Nigeria-Cameroon border. Ishaya knew she would likely be killed trying to escape, but she had to try.

Ishaya memorized everything she could about the house while planning her escape. “It’s a big house separated into two by a short wall,” she said, speaking from the northeastern city of Yola where she is staying with relatives. “The roof tiling is the color of ox blood.”

Boko Haram fighters kidnapped Ishaya, who was raised in Gulak, after they invaded the town in September 2014. She took her baby and ran to the mountains with a group of people to hide. They lived in the mountains for two months, and Ishaya occasionally sneaked back into town to forage for food.

Early one morning Ishaya left her child with another woman and went down from the mountain, creeping back into her house. She grabbed a few things from her kitchen and then headed back to the foothills.

As the sun began to rise, she hurried — but she had already been spotted.

“Two Boko Haram men grabbed me. Then two others came,” Ishaya said. “They trekked with me to their leader. Then they took me to the house.”

There were about 20 older women and a handful of girls in the house. Ishaya said some looked terrified, while others were dejected, as though they had resigned to their new lives in captivity. They were wearing hijabs, most having been forced to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam.

[Full Story]