CHIBOK GIRLS: 5 Secrets You Have Never Heard
It is exactly 1305 days since the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state was invaded by Boko Haram.
200 or over 200; the fact remains that some girls are still in captivity.
Those who managed to escape or others who were released in a swap deal between Boko Haram and federal authorities have began to recount their horrific experiences.
Thoughts of the very long days, the very cold nights and all the horrors in between left 24 year old Naomi Adamu heart-broken and always scared.
She has shared her experience with Nigerian-born journalist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani.
Naomi says while in captivity within the heart of Sambisa, the girls were given exercise books to take notes during the Koranic classes.
Naomi Adamu, released Chibok Girl (Courtesy: Murtala Muhammed Foundation)
These notebooks later became diaries into which the captives poured out their most memorable fears and account of events.
Here are 5 things Naomi and her friend, Sarah Samuel, wrote that are quite mind-boggling.
1. The initial target was an 'engine block' not the girls
The militants invaded the school in search for an "engine block" - this may refer to a machine used in moulding cement blocks which was purchased by state authorities a few days earlier. But it also refer to the engine of a vehicle
The could not find the item they had come for after hours of searching. It was later agreed that the students would be taken with them.
"So they started argument in their midst. So one small boy said that they should burn us all and they said, 'No let us take them with us to Sambisa.' Another person said, 'No let's not do that. Let's lead them... and then go to their parent homes.' As they were in argument, then one of them said, 'No, I can't come with empty car and go back with empty car... If we take them to [Abubakar] Shekau [Boko Haram's leader], he will know what to do.'"
2. Was there a Boko Haram admirer within?
Since there was no plan to take the girls initially, they had to load some into a truck which they had hoped would serve as a conveyor for the block machine.
Majority of the remaining girls were made to walk with guns pointed at their heads. Their captors eventually got network on their phones after some miles and called for more trucks to come.
Unfortunately, there was one girl that raised alarm while some on the over loaded truck managed to escape.
It is not clear if she admired the group or was just too afraid to be left alone by her escaping friends.
"Then one girl in the car said, 'Driver, some girls are jumping to escape.' Then the driver opened the door of the car then searched for them with the torch but didn't find anyone. So they said to them that they should stay [in] one place, that if they jump down again, if they saw her or any they will shoot her."
Some pages from the secret diaries (Courtesy BBC)
3. They played mind games on the girls
There were several times they made the girls feel like their parents were also being held captive by the sect in another location. They also tried to convert them by threatening to burn those who insisted on remaining Christians.
"Then they came to us and said, 'Those who are Muslim, it is time for prayer.' After they had prayed, [they said], 'Those who are Muslim, let them be on one side and those who are Christian let them too be on one side.'
"Then we saw jerrycan in the car so we thought it was petrol. Then they said, 'Who and how many of you will turn to Muslim.' So many of us, because of fear, some of us stand up and went inside... So [they said], 'The rest that remain you want to die, is that why you don't want to be Muslim? We are going to burn you...' Then they give us that jerrycan which we thought it was petrol. It is not petrol, it is water."
4. The militants tried to forcefully "woo" the girls into marriage
Some members of the sect claimed that rape was against their religion but would prefer to marry their victims and make their unions 'legitimate'. Although some of the girls initially resisted, they were eventually pressure into it.
Those who stood firm became slaves to their married colleagues.
"We saw the people come in two Hilux [vans]. Then they came asking for those who want to get married. They asked us and said anybody who accepts Muslim religion… must get married if truly she holds the religion with two hands. They gave us 30 minutes to give them their answer but we kept quiet. Then we stayed for an hour but nobody answered them."
Naomi's mother, Kolo (Courtesy BBC)
5. Residents in communities collaborated with the sect
While the entire world supported a campaign for the safe release of the girls #BBOG, there were a few residents in surrounding communities who wanted the girls to remain in captivity.
Even when the girls managed to escape from the sects stronghold within Sambisa, they were found and returned by these wicked people.
"There is another day that some girls ran. They tried to escape but they couldn't. So those people arrested them. The way they arrested them was they entered into a shop and asked them to help them and give them water and biscuit. So, the people asked them, 'Who are you and where did you come from?' The girls said, 'We are those that the BH kidnapped from GGSS [Government Girls Secondary School], Chibok.' So, one of the people said, 'Are these not Shekau's children?'
"So they gave them good food to eat and a place to sleep and the next day, they returned them to our place... As they brought them to Sambisa at night, they whipped them and said that they are going to cut off their necks."
Naomi escape but Sarah who did most of the documentation was not so lucky. They last saw while in captivity. Naomi prays everyday that she will see Sarah again.
*Some of the photos used and quotes are courtesy of the BBC