On April 14, 2014, members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram raided a girls’ school in Chibok, a town in northern Nigeria, and abducted 276 girls between the ages of 17 and 20. In spite of a worldwide outcry and assistance from the United States, the government of Nigeria has been unable to rescue the missing girls.
Today marks their 158th day of captivity.
Of the 276 girls originally abducted, 57 managed to escape in the first 48 hours, most while they were being transported from the school to territory controlled by Boko Haram. Four of those girls have recently come to the United States under the auspices of the Jubilee Campaign, an American NGO which has been working with victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria, so that they can finish their education is safety. Boko Haram is opposed to the education of women.
One of those four girls told her story to Breitbart. In order to protect her and her family, who remains in Nigeria, her identity has been kept secret.
On April 14, we are in our school in the night, around 11:30 p.m. then we heard gun shooting in the Chibok town. After we heard the gun shooting, we woke up in the night and we all gathered together. All the girls we gathered together outside the school premises.
Then after that we are sitting; we don’t know what is happening. Then after that time I have called my father by phone. My father is in our town. I have told him what is happening in Chibok town. He said OK, let’s not worry. Let’s just pray so that God will help us. We should not go anywhere. Then I said OK.
Then we gathered together all of the girls in our hostel. Then they entered where our teachers are living. They have picked the teachers’ vehicles then they come through to the hostel. We don’t know that they are the people. We think maybe they are the teachers who have come to encourage us. They come and gather us together. After they gather us together they start asking us where the engine [car] is. We don’t know where the engine is. Then they said if we didn’t tell them the truth they will kill us. We said we don’t know where the engine is. Then they ask us again where are the boys. We said the boys are not staying in the school. They are just in the town then after they finish classes they go home. They said OK you have heard what is happening in Konduga, Bama [towns which had been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram] then today we are here with you. If you didn’t tell us the truth we are going to kill all of you.
After that they asked two of our classmates to go and show them our store, where our food is kept. Two girls go and show them the store then they start packing our food, everything in the store. They pack it all. Then they ask us to move out from the hostel and we go to our classroom area near the gates of our hostel and they said we should all gather together. Nobody should shout, nobody should run. If any one of us shouts or run they are going to kill her. We said OK. We gather together and they start burning the school, burning everything. They pack everything in the trucks then after that they ask us to move out of the school premises. We start moving with them.
They said not any girls should shout or run. If they do that they are going to kill all of us.
After that they go and gather us together under a big tree. Then they start asking us that we should tell them the truth. If not, they are going to kill us. Then we said we don’t know anything about the engine [car]. After that they bring a small car under the big trucks. They ask us to climb the small car and enter the big trucks. We are afraid they start shooting. They said if any one of us doesn’t want to enter the trucks they are going to kill her. Then we start to enter the trucks. After some of us entered the car was full. So they start moving with their foot. After that we moved. We reached one village called Ping. Then they asked us to stop. They asked the other girls to enter the car. Then three girls remained. The car was full. They asked the girls are you a Christian or a Muslim. The other girls says she’s Muslim and the other one says she is Muslim and the one of them says that she is Christian. One of them [Boko Haram] decides to kill her but some of them asked him not to kill her. They asked them to run [because there was no room for them in the cars]. If they turn back and look at them they are going to shoot all of them. They said OK and they ran into the town. Then they start moving with us.
We are moving, we are moving. We passed one village called Gagalam. After we passed that village then some of our girls started jumping down from the car. Then I told my friend I am going to jump down. Either I die or whatever because I don’t know where I am going to. Then she said OK, we are going to jump together. After I jumped from the car then she followed me. We entered the bush. Then there are two cars and two machines [trucks] behind us. So there is little distance between us. So we jumped from the car and we entered the bush. We slept there til morning, til 6:00. Then in the morning we met one Fulani man near where we slept. One of my friend that we jumped together she wounded her leg. She can’t move again. So I can’t take her then I went to the Fulani man and I asked him to help us. He said he didn’t have any machines [car/motorcycle] to help us to take us home so he took up his pack and his properties so he decided not to help us. Then after that we don’t know, maybe it is God that enters his heart, we don’t know. He asks us to stay. Maybe 11 or 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock there are people that will come from the town to their farms so maybe they will help us. Then we said OK. Then we are sitting together with the Fulani man then we decide to go because we are afraid of staying in the bush. Then he said OK let him help us. Then we carried one of my friend, he put her on his bicycle and he starts walking with her. He helped us. Then we come to a village called Gagalam. After we come to the village then we met the people that are going to look for their own daughters. Then we met with them and he help us and take us to the Chibok town. Then from the Chibok town we got a machine [car] to take us to where we live.
Saa was one of the very fortunate girls who managed to escape from Boko Haram, but 219 girls remain in captivity. About her kidnapped schoolmates, Saa said, “Up to now we didn’t hear anything about what happens to them. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know what condition they are in.”
The UK Telegraph reported on September 18th that the government of Nigeria is engaged in secret talks to release 16 Boko Haram leaders from prison in exchange for the missing girls. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is serving as mediator in the talks. But one day later, September 19th, it has been reported that the Nigerian military captured a senior Boko Haram leader and killed as many as 60 others. Whether this latest confrontation between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram will aid in getting the girls back is not yet known. The conflict between the military and Boko Haram has stepped up as Boko Haram has made clear its intention to establish its own caliphate, inspired by ISIS, with its capitol in Maiduguri.
Katie Gorka is president of the Council on Global Security. Follow her on twitter at @katharinegorka.