Some of the people rescued from Boko Haram captivity are put into de-radicalization programs.  AFP

In 2017, Aisha Yerima left her family in shock when she voluntarily returned to captivity with Boko Haram after being released by the military.

Four years later, this 30-year-old woman has escaped and returned to her parents’ home in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, in the northeast of the country.

Jerima she was abducted by Boko Haram when she was 21 years old in a town southeast of Maiduguri. She then married one of the group’s commanders, who she says conquered her heart with romance and gifts.

Aisha was rescued along with a dozen other wives when her husband was fighting after a military attack on their camp in the Sambisa forest.

The women were put on a de-radicalization program for a year, but just four months later, Aisha decided that life with Boko Haram was better.

Some of the people rescued from Boko Haram captivity are put into de-radicalization programs. AFP

“It was difficult for me to make ends meet. Things got tough and I had to depend on my parents”Says Aisha.

She also found it difficult to feed her two-year-old son, rescued with her and the fruit of her marriage to the commander.

“I called my husband and he was very happy to hear from me. He told me when he would approach Maiduguri to buy gas and fuel and we agreed that I would join him, ”he says.

On the agreed day, Aisha left her parents’ house and took their son with her. Did not say anything to anyone and he only took a few belongings.

Fires of jubilation

She met her husband in an isolated place and he gave her some money to buy new clothes.

They met again around 7:30 pm in another place where he was waiting for her along with 20 other Islamist militants on a bus.

They were all armed with guns“, bill.

They then started a long drive into the Sambisa forest, abandoned the vehicle in a remote garage where it was picked up by a man the militants had hired and the rest of the journey continued on foot.

“When we got to the camp in the forest there was a celebration. Everyone was happy to see me back and they fired guns into the air, ”says Aisha.

Immediately continued her life as the commander’s wifeThey treated her with respect, assigned her other captives as their slaves, and gave her more than enough food for her and her son.

Shortly after returning, she was thrilled to find that she was pregnant again, but the baby died at birth.

The Nigerian military has struggled to secure the state of Borno, which is roughly the same size as Sierra Leone.  AFP
The Nigerian military has struggled to secure the state of Borno, which is roughly the same size as Sierra Leone. AFP

Within two months of becoming pregnant again, her husband died in battle.

Boko Haram militants believed that the future baby would be entitled to a share of his father’s wealth and they waited for it to be born before dividing the inheritance.

“They wanted to see if a boy or a girl was born because a boy is entitled to twice the inheritance than a girl”, explains Aisha.

It turned out to be a boy, but again a tragedy occurred. The baby died at birth. Aisha was devastated.

Forced to marry

His share of the inheritance allowed him to continue living well, although this aroused jealousy in others.

“They began to ask me why I should enjoy and live alone. I didn’t want to marry anyone else but they forced me”.

Her new husband was also wealthy, a businessman responsible for supplying goods to Boko Haram, which involved frequent trips to Maiduguri.

When she got pregnant again, Ashia was terrified of losing another baby in the forest.

“I begged him to move to Maiduguri, but he refused,” he says.

His desire to leave became more urgent as the military intensified their attacks with frequent bombardments, which it forced the group’s militants and their families to move constantly.

Furthermore, infighting sparked divisions within Boko Haram and both factions increased their attacks on each other.

Fearing for her life and that of the new unborn baby, Aisha decided to escape.

At 3:00 am one morning in August, he entered the forest with his son and two other wives who aspired to a different life.

However, they were all captured by Boko Haram and returned to the camp.

To prevent her from escaping again, Aisha’s husband and the fighters took their six-year-old son and took him to an unknown location.

“As my son was being taken away, he would grab my hand and yell please don’t let him go,” says Aisha.

For several days, the woman begged the militants to return him and tried to search for him.

Eventually he concluded that his efforts would be unrewarded, so decided to escape without him the next chance he got.

Kidnappings are a common practice of the Islamist group Boko Haram.  GETTY
Kidnappings are a common practice of the Islamist group Boko Haram. GETTY

Escape and kindness

In exchange for a price, a Boko Haram militant who knew a clandestine route Through the forest, he offered his help to her and a dozen other women who wanted to flee.

Aisha gave him all the money she had.

A week later, he led them away from the militants’ base, through remote villages, and dropped them off at a point where they could continue their way alone to a military post.

“The soldiers were very nice,” Aisha said.

“They flattered me for being brave enough to escape and put money to put me in a vehicle to take me to my parents’ house. They did not believe that there was a need to accompany me ”.

When they reached Maiduguri, he had to ask the driver to stop to call his mother and ask for the address.

More than two million people have fled their homes during the Boko Haram insurgency, and many have moved to Maiduguri.  GETTY IMAGES
More than two million people have fled their homes during the Boko Haram insurgency, and many have moved to Maiduguri. GETTY IMAGES

The city had changed a lot in his absence.

“There were new elevated bridges and paved roads everywhere.”

The entire family waited when the oldest of their eight siblings walked through the front door. They rushed over to Aisha and hugged her.

Everyone has been kind and understanding since his return. Some neighbors have contributed money for its maintenance.

But the baby she had had in early October died.

She learned from other women who escaped more recently that the husband she left in the woods had been captured by an opposing faction of Boko Haram.

His whereabouts are unknown.

Determined to create a new life, Aisha hopes to raise funds to start selling perfume and incense.

“I pray to Allah to rescue my son, but I will never go back to Boko Haram”, He confesses.

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