Aishat Maiangu Ali, 30, one of the numerous women subjected to harrowing experiences by the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, has narrated her story of how she lied to five commanders of the sect who came to pay her dowry after they killed her children and husband.
Aishat, who lived in Gwoza when the town was seized by insurgents two years ago, lied that she was HIV positive to scare away her Boko Haram suitors.
Pouring out her heart to Daily Trust on Sunday, the mother of six, who has been reduced to two children, recalled how many people were killed, including her husband, when Boko Haram insurgents captured Gwoza and declared the town a caliphate.
On that fateful Friday when Gwoza was captured, Aishat recalled that “many women hid their husbands under their roofs, but when the insurgents got to know, they started shooting sporadically and many were killed. Hundreds of men voluntarily joined the sect when they discovered that they could not escape the onslaught”.
She continued: “I have six children, but four were killed, along with my husband. The insurgents thereafter named Gwoza their caliphate. I suffered unexplainable depression in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents. I can’t remember everything, but I know that many young women suffered as sex slaves. At a point, they took us to Mubi and Michika towns. They also moved us to a border village between Cameroon and Nigeria for several months before that Thursday when the army recaptured Gwoza. We never knew that we would see people again”.
Still recounting her harrowing experience and those of other women and girls forced to live as slaves under the caliphate, Aishat said their condition got worse a month after Gwoza fell to Boko Haram as there was no food to eat.
“They told people that they would give them food and beautiful houses if they were ready to marry them. It was then that women and girls started marrying them in exchange for food”, she said.
“One Amir Abu came to my house and requested to marry me, but I refused because he was amongst those who killed my husband. I also felt that I didn’t need their food, house and other things because I did not know where they came from. Also, for them to be killing innocent people simply didn’t follow the rule of their so-called Sharia law, so I hated them. It was scarcity of food that led many young girls and women to marry them. I used to grind maize and millet for them because I had a grinding machine.
“When they kept coming to me for marriage, I lied that I was HIV positive. After a week, another Amir came, insisting that I marry him, but I lied to him again. So they arrested and put me in a separate room in their prison. After three days without water and food, they allowed me to go back home. So many women wondered why I didn’t marry them. I always told everyone that came to me that I knew I was HIV positive and didn’t want to destroy people’s lives.
“The pressure was too much for me as another Amir came. Again, I was arrested and kept in a room when the fifth Amir Isma’il requested I should marry him, but I refused and told him the same story. He started beating me. Despite this, I didn’t change my stance. They insisted that I should tell them the truth, but I said that was my health status”, she said.
Aishat further said she was shocked when they told her to take them to her father.
“I took them to my father and he told them that I had been sick before my husband and children were killed. He said he was aware of my health status. That was how I escaped the marriage proposals of the five Boko Haram Amirs in Gwoza”, she concluded.