A 14-year-old female suspected suicide bomber has said Boko Haram leaders chose her to detonate an Improvised Explosive Device in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, because she rejected the marriage proposals of their members in Sambisa Forest.
Also, the troops of the Nigerian Army, under Forward Operation Base, Fika, Yobe State, have arrested four suspected Boko Haram kidnappers in Mundu village in the Yuga area of the state.
The PUNCH learnt that the suspected Boko Haram members – 25-year-old Yahaya Auta; Salisu Lawal, 20; Umar Mohammed, 18; and Samaila Abubakar, whose age was not known – were apprehended after a tip-off and found to be in possession of several ammunition.
However, the girl suicide bomber was among three suspects arrested by the military when they allegedly came for a suicide mission at a military facility in Jakana in Maiduguri.
The suspect (name withheld because she is a minor) told the News Agency of Nigeria that she was sent on the mission to detonate the device because she refused marriage proposals from three Boko Haram terrorists.
The suspect said she was abducted with her father, Usman, by Boko Haram insurgents in Gwoza, Borno State, in 2013.
She stated that she and her father were running to Mandara Mountain for safety when they were abducted.
The teenager added, “I have spent three years in the hands of Boko Haram. Three different Boko Haram (terrorists) had proposed to marry me and I refused. Two among them were commanders (amir).
“When I refused for the third time, one of the commanders became furious and threatened to kill me and my father. I told him I would rather die than marry a Boko Haram (terrorist).
“So, after one week, they said since I have refused to get married, I should be taken to Maiduguri for a suicide mission. So, three of them held my hands and they injected me.
“Then, I never knew what was happening again.
“Ï was taken to a herbalist, who, after I regained consciousness, told me that I had been with him for 30 days.
“He told me he was preparing me for a mission. So, he gave me some water to drink. I don’t know what it tasted like but I drank it. So, he said they would come and pick me today.
“At about 7pm, three Boko Haram (members) came with a male and a female. They were also recruited for the mission like me.
“We spent one and a half days on the road to Maiduguri. It was when we got to Maiduguri that they strapped the bombs to our bodies. At that moment, I knew that I was going to die; so I started crying.
”I was watching when the first bomber, a female, detonated her explosive close to a military checkpoint, which killed no one but herself. The second, a male, was killed by the military before he could detonate his.
“At that time, something told me to remove my own IED and surrender, which I did. I was surrounded by soldiers and policemen and I fainted.
”When I woke up, I discovered that one of the policemen at the checkpoint was a brother of my mother. I think that was the reason I survived.”
Meanwhile, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the suspects were being de-radicalised at a military detention facility.
“We have quite a number of them here in our facility. We have been profiling them and making them feel comfortable.
“So far, from their testimonies, they usually tell us that they were brainwashed by some sort of charms to commit suicide,” Irabor said.
According to the army, the weapons recovered from the four Boko Haram kidnap gang are one locally-made six-loader single barrelled gun, one empty cartridge, two machetes, a knife, two mobile phones, two packets of Tramadol tablets and N360,000.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, confirmed the arrest, adding that the suspects were currently undergoing investigation.
He said, “Troops deployed at Forward Operation Base, Yuga, on blocking position, on Sunday, following a tip-off from well-meaning individuals, ambushed and arrested four suspected kidnappers at Mundu village.
“Also, troops of Forward Operation Base, Fika, on routine patrol, on Sunday, arrested a suspected fleeing Boko Haram terrorist, Bala Ibrahim, 30.
“Preliminary investigation shows that the suspect hails from Bulabulin village in the Fika LGA. He is being further interrogated.”
Parents to meet 82 Chibok girls on Friday
The Federal Government has invited parents of the 82 Chibok schoolgirls, who were released penultimate weekend by Boko Haram, to Abuja where they will be re-united with their daughters, The PUNCH has learnt.
The Chairman, Chibok Community in Abuja, Mr. Hosea Tsambido, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday.
Some Chibok representatives, who met with the Federal Government last week, were given photographs of the girls while the representatives handed over the pictures of the released girls to the parents in Chibok for identification.
It was learnt that the concerned parents had been able to identify the girls and were therefore asked to come to Abuja to meet the girls on Friday.
Tsambido stated, “Many of the parents have identified their children through the photos and I was told that they are coming on Friday.”
When asked if the Federal Government would be sponsoring the trip, Tsambido said, “I don’t know. What the parents told me was that they were asked to come on Friday. I didn’t ask if the government would sponsor the trip but usually, the government sponsors such trips.”
One of the guardians of the rescued girls, Yahi Dwata, also confirmed to The PUNCH that the Federal Government had asked the parents to come on Friday,
Dwata, whose niece, Comfort Bulus, is among the rescued girls, said, “It is true. I have received word from parents in Chibok that the government asked them to come on Friday. I will also be in Abuja on Friday.”
The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, who is coordinating the rehabilitation of the Chibok girls, could not be reached on the telephone as she did not return calls to her telephone while she had yet to respond to a text message as of the time of filing this report.
Trumps stops UNFPA funding, girls rehabilitation may suffer
Also, the rehabilitation of the schoolgirls may suffer a setback following a directive by the United States Government to stop the funding of the United Nations Population Fund.
The UNFPA is a UN agency which focuses on curbing child marriage, unwanted pregnancies and also provides supplies and services to victims.
The agency had, last week, pledged to “provide emergency reproductive health care and psychosocial counselling and support” to the recently rescued girls.
However, UNFPA’s Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Eugene Kongnyuy, said the funding cuts had already hurt the agency’s ability to help kidnapped women and girls recover after being freed by Boko Haram.
Kongnyuy was quoted as saying this during an interview with Karen Attiah, The Washington Post’s Global Opinions Editor.
In the article, which was published in the US-based newspaper on Friday, Kongnyuy said, “We receive less funds so our capacity to respond now is limited.
“The United States used to contribute funding to our regular resources. This year we requested $1m from the US government for our gender-based violence program in the North-East, and initially it was approved.
“A few days ago, we were informed that the funding would not come. We could have used that money to respond quicker to the needs of the recently released girls.”