Witness to Boko Haram’s actions

We receive emails from Nigerian friends and acquaintances whose lives have been disrupted by the brutal actions, too often atrocities, of Boko Haram. More information from the grassroots is passed on to us by colleagues who are in tenuous contact with victims in the regions, towns and villages in which they have carried out research. This page samples such witnesses’ testimonies to the events that have disrupted their and their communities’ lives.

We are withholding authors’ names both for their protection and because it is not always possible to obtain their consent. Statements have been minimally edited for comprehensibility.

Latest News 

October 2016: We begin the latest update to the Home page with an important witness statement regarding the situation in Madagali LGA, Adamawa state, Nigeria. Please go to this page.

June 2016: The military campaign of late March and April was successful in driving Boko Haram insurgent forces (though not all sympathizers and agents) out of the towns that they controlled in the north-east of Nigeria. This and the conclusion of successful elections means that many Boko Haram victims can return home. Here is one such testimony.

May 2015. I hope is all well as mine here in Nigeria. We have finished our all elections in Nigeria and the elections was successfully conducted compared to pass elections. PDP the Nigerian ruling party have lose their seat, because APC now is leading with President, 21 Governors out of 36, more than 60 senators out of 109 and many national and state assemblies, that means there will be change. and that is what we want. because we want change in Nigeria.
I sent some of family and brothers home last two week. I also give them some money to go and continue doing some work in my house and according to their report, the work is carried on. I will like to travel to Sukur by next week by God grace.

On June 30th 2015 we had encouraging news from Madagali Local Government Area, where there have been intermittent attacks by what appear to be small Boko Haram remnants, some lacking firearms. Our correspondent writes:

Almost all of Sukur hilltop Community is at home, they are busy working on their farm for planting. The problems of insurgency now is less not worst as before because Army and local hunters are seriously working together, but sometimes they come in the night to look for a place where they can get something to consume because the remaining insurgency are leaving in the bush, They also come to the back side to kill people silently, but far from Sukur site.

When considering whether and how much to donate to BH victims, please remember that as refugees spread out from camps to recolonize their homes and rebuild their shattered lives, they will need more rather than less support. They are returning to a land laid waste. Donations now are more than ever necessary — and the Kinjir Foundation and other organizations listed on the Partners page are in a position to arrange for delivery of that support to the grassroots.

The lack of visuals

Because people in Nigeria’s northeast are so very poor, few have cameras or even cell phones. Fewer have access to the internet and are able to upload images. The visual deficiency is partially made up by a short video produced by Camera4Development  for United Donations, a Nigerian charity based in Lagos that is collecting for Boko Haram survivors. 

Other Testimonies

Sukur, Madagali LGA, Adamawa state

(December 2014)

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Boko Haram entered Sukur hilltop today 12/12/2014 by 3 am in the morning.  According to the report that I heard from one eyewitness there, says that they burned almost more than half of the total houses at Hilltop including the Hidi’s [chief’s] living apartment, local guest houses at palace, Churches and Schools. They also shoted Kwaji Hidi wife with rifle (gun), but she is alive so far. We advice to carry her to Cameroun for medical treatment if the wound worst.

In January we heard that Kwaji, widow of the late chief, was recovering in Mokolo, across the border in Cameroon. She is shown here dancing at the biennial initiation of young men in August 1992.

(January 2015)
Note that “Sakun” is the name by which Sukur refer to themselves and their language.

The reports are as follows:
1. About 32 Sakun men and women were killed from all over Madagali  Local Government. 30 men and 2 women and non from hilltop.
2. About 14 Sakun Young men and women that joined BH  from all over the LG was also killed by Sakun youth home base. 10 young men and 4 women. non from hilltop.
3. Many Sakun female was Kidnapped, but back only few were remain, and with hope they will back safely.
4. About 5 Sakun men and woman was wounded but most of them was discharge. the remaining ones are receiving their treatment.
5. The Insurgents are camping at Rugudum and Mataka moving up and down in the hill to collect peoples properties and farm product. They are burning the remaining houses and un-havested crops at farm.
6. Michika LGA are not yet retaken from BH, because it is not officially announce, no any civilian is going there apart from Nigerian Army and Insurgents themselves, which means is not safe.

This testimony brings into relief the uncomfortable fact that many young non-Muslims, especially men, have been forced by death threats or by hunger to join Boko Haram. Some were able to desert, others not. Reconciliation of such “recruits” with their communities will be a problem, but one that ethnic groups in the region have dealt with in the past with considerable understanding and sophistication — as for example after the end of slave raiding in the 1920s.

(March 2015)

… life has been unbearable to the people of Sukur due to attack by Boko Haram. All Sukur communities downhill — Mafer, Rugudum, Sukur settlement in Madagali — are deserted, houses and food destroyed and many people lost their lives. But I appreciate the fact that Sukur Kingdom the Hilltop is now the only place in the whole Madagali Local Government Area where there are large settlements of people, including the internally displaced people from neighboring Marghi towns like Gulak, Magar, Gubla, Midlu, Pallam and Madagali town… are in camps at Sukur. I now understand why Sukur survived for centuries.

The Hidi (chief) of Sukur, who had been coordinating assistance to Sukur and neighboring communities from Yola, was able to return to Sukur on March 8th, 2015.

Southern Fali villages and southern Margi in Mubi LGA

 (March 2015)

Many people were killed in almost all the villages for instance Jilvu lost three people who happens to be in Mubi at that time (29-30) October again Vimtim 37 people, Muvur 52 people etc though the actual number of peoples who were killed cannot be ascertain now because people are still scattered.

Mama, generally peoples suffered and lots of lives and properties were destroyed it was great tragedy one will not want to see, hear and experience what so ever lot of children got missing, pregnant women give birth and left their babies and ran for their lives, sick peoples were abundant either in the hospitals, at home and elsewhere.

BHVR hopes soon to be able to identify partners in this area to the east of Mubi.

Maiduguri, Borno state

(March 2015 – extracts from several messages)

…Before the terrorist were pushed out of Maiduguri, living in the city became extremely difficult and dangerous. There were days that there could be 20 – 30 IED explosions. That made it extremely  frightening to the extent that my two kids jump up in fear even at the banging of a door!

…Thousands of the people from Gwoza, Sukur and many villages in that axis live in Maiduguri as IDPs. Many of them have chosen to take refuge in churches rather than in the camps opened by the government. Without any religious bias, the majority of the people from the area of our research profess Christianity as their religion. They are not in the government camps because they feel discriminated against because of their religion. It took some efforts to get the government to send food items and clothing to the IDPs living in churches in Maiduguri. Boko Haram has religious undertone. Anybody that does not practice their version of Islam is an enemy but Christians suffer most. Without any prejudice, BH has many sympathisers amongst Moslems and majority of the IDPs living in the government run camps are Moslems.

… I was at Maiduguri during the last two attempts by BH to over run the city. The reports from the media made it as if the group succeeded in entering the city. BH did not enter the city. They were intercepted on both occasions at the outskirts of the city. The state government and security agencies did a good thing by having a deep trench dug around the whole city ! The city can only be accessed through the designated entry points. This has helped in preventing BH from invading from unsuspected routes. This,however, did not stop the RPGs fired by the terrorists from landing in some places on the outskirts of the city and killing innocent civilians. On both occasions the Nigerian Air force intervened promptly by bombing and repelling the terrorists from their positions.

…Boko Haram seems to be on the receiving end now. The sect is seriously in disarray – at least the fighters on the battle field. They have suffered serious looses both in terms of fighters and equipment. The sleeper cells, however, seem to be active and have carried out several suicide bombings in Maiduguri and other places in the last two weeks. We are believing the Nigerian Military now because in the last few days journalists were taken on a guided tour of some of the territories captured. The destruction by BH is unbelievable ! It would take years for the victims to rebuild their lives.

It would take some times for people to return to their burnt homes and villages. This is because the Military would have to remove the thousands of IEDs planted by BH along many of the roads to some of the communities. Anyway, many of the IDPs are happy that they would soon return to their ancestral land.

It is rather unfortunate that the rest of the world seems to have little interest in the BH crisis. Now that journalists are beginning to have access to the destroyed communities, perhaps people’s attitude to the crisis might change when photos begin to emerge.