The only one among the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls still being held captive by Boko Haram, Leah Sharibu, escaped and eluded the terrorists for all of three days abut was eventually recaptured and taken back into custody.
This was disclosed by some of the freed Dapchi girls interviewed by The Guardian of London.
The only Christian among the 110 schoolgirls abducted from Government Girls Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, Leah “ran away from her kidnappers but was caught and brought back three days later, according to fellow captives speaking in their first face-to-face interview since they were returned to their families last week,” according to The Guardian .
The paper recalled that Leah Sharibu is the only one of the Dapchi girls that Boko Haram refused to hand over after negotiations with the Nigerian government, apparently because she refused to renounce her faith and convert to Islam.
Speaking to The Guardian from their homes in Yobe State, the girls who had to leave their friend behind described how Leah and two others escaped together.
Speaking on Leah’s travails, one of the freed girls, Aisha Ibiwa, told the paper: “She didn’t tell us she was leaving. We thought she was just going round the corner, but she sneaked out along with Maryam and Amira (two classmates).”
According to the report, “After walking for three days, the three hungry and exhausted girls approached a family of the nomadic Fulani people, asking for their help getting home to Dapchi. But instead they were taken straight back to their kidnappers, according to Hajara Adamu, another of Leah’s friends.”
Hajara was quoted as saying: “The Fulani man said to them: ‘So you are the missing girls that we’ve heard about on the radio.’ He gave them a jerrycan filled with cow’s milk and brought them back.’
“Leah and her group weren’t flogged. They [Boko Haram] said it was because they had suffered a lot while trying to escape.”
But Hajara had worse luck, according to the report: when she tried to run away, she was whipped. She was frogmarched back to the camp with a gun at her back, after making the mistake of asking some local women for directions.
“They started laughing at us and even insulting us, saying that we wanted to go back to the land of unbelievers,” Hajara said.
She disclosed that they were given 10 strokes each, while one girl was beaten with a branch from a thorn tree, before the kidnappers changed to a leather whip. But Hajara and some of her friends had hidden blankets under their hijabs to reduce the impact, the report said.
“It wasn’t painful, but we had to pretend it was, but not cry, because they said whoever cried would get twice as many strokes,” she told the newspaper.
The girls’ testimony was collected a week after their liberation and a few days after their visit to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, where they were immediately taken to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of them, Fatima, told The Guardian : “They gave us drinks and food and chicken. Afterwards they took us out and we took a picture with the president. The president gave us gifts of two wrappers, a pair of shoes, and 5,000 naira (£10) each.”