Boko Haram insurgents may have lost over a thousand captives during the confusion arising from a recent devastating military onslaught.
Mr Ali Maiyanga, father of one of the latest escapees, Halima, gave the indication while conversing with the family’s lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe of US NIGERIA LAW GROUP, Washington, DC, USA.
Ogebe said in an account made available to News Express via e-mail yesterday, Friday, January 29, 2021: “When I asked if other classmates escaped with Halima, he indicated that he couldn’t be precise but that over 1,000 captives were freed along with his daughter.”
Circumstances surrounding the rescue or escape are unclear but they may not be unconnected with the blistering military offensive which News Express reported last Wednesday, January 27.
According to that report, Nigerian troops with the support of the Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) invaded four Boko Haram strongholds barely hours after the announcement of new military service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The operation led by Brig. Gen Waidi Shaibu, Brigade Commander of 21 Special Armor Brigade, reportedly saw several Boko Haram fighters killed in Maiyanki, Darulsallam, Bula Kurege and Izza – all in the North-East.
Below is Barrister Ogebe’s account, reproduced unedited, of his interactions with Halima’s father, Ali Maiyanga:
It was a joy to speak with Mr Ali Maiyanga again and congratulate him for the second time on the freedom of another daughter.
Mr Maiyanga was in the first set of parents we met during a US congressional delegation visit to Nigeria weeks after the Chibok abductions.
I was impressed with his commitment to education as a Muslim man when he told us then that he would even sell his house to educate his daughters.
I journaled then, his very emotional recollection of the abduction, “During a congressional visit to Nigeria, A Chibok dad, Mr. Ali narrated his agonizing story. Mr Ali had queried his daughter on why she came home for the weekend when she should be in school studying. On Sunday evening she left for school. As she was going, she gave money to her younger siblings who fought over it. He chided her for causing the brawl and then she left.
The last they heard from her was at midnight when she called and said “these boys are in our school.” Boko Haram abducted two of his daughters – 16 and 17. He is a Muslim man who says that he would sell his house to give his girls an opportunity to get educated.”
On November 7, 2017when his daughter Maryam returned, I posted online “I never forget when I met this guy named Ali Maiyanga. What do you tell a guy who has lost not one but two daughters in the abduction?
“I had just bought a new suit that I hadn’t won. He looked about my height. I gave it to him to try on. It fit.
“Even after losing two daughters in 2014, last year BH came back and killed two of his adopted sons.
“Now one of his daughter’s is back. Some joy in the midst of great sorrow!”
Yesterday while confirming the news of his second daughter Halima’s freedom, I inquired after Maryam.
“She’s back in school but currently home on break,” Ali Maiyanga excitedly told me.
I was impressed for two reasons. Firstly one of the Chibok schoolgirls had just gotten married and returned to school for her finals when she was abducted.
After they were freed in negotiations, she insisted on going back to her husband’s house instead of staying in the government’s rehabilitation and education programme.
However I was more surprised because having been married off and had a child, the initial concern was that she had been radicalized away from education by Boko Haram.
Mr Maiyanga told me that even Maryam’s son is now able to read. It is perhaps the greatest irony that a child sired by Boko Haram rape is now a student in western education.
Mr Ali Maiyanga’s grandson was named after him by his daughter in captivity – a clear testament of how much his daughters loved him.
In another miraculous redemption of this horrifying experience, Ali who lost two daughters to abduction and two sons to murder, has recovered both daughters and gained a grandson. This is certainly a beauty from ashes story!
When I asked if other classmates escaped with Halima, he indicated that he couldn’t be precise but that over 1,000 captives were freed along with his daughter.
I think there might be more Chibok schoolgirls but after years of traumatic captivity, would they remember their parents’ numbers? Some parents have also died which might explain why more calls haven’t been made.
It is also important to note though that Halima as a Muslim and wife of a commander had less restrictive captivity, based on intel from returnees, than her Christian classmates. This may have enabled her getting away.
It is clearly a tribute to the triumph of the indomitable human spirit that she still desired freedom and ultimately got it.
I have communicated the news to the US congressmen and women on both CODELS to Nigeria in 2014 as well as the new Biden appointees who were then officials in the Obama administration. They like some of the Chibok girls in US are elated at the news that more classmates. Some had last seen the Maiyanga’s daughters on the Boko Haram’s trucks before they jumped off into the forest.
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