Army Accused Of Causing Disappearance Of Thousands In North-East (Video)

“From where he was held, my son cried to me that I should do everything possible to get him out. I was very sad seeing him in that condition. I swear to Allah, he is not a Boko Haram. My son is not a Boko Haram. Walahi, he is not,” the mother told The ICIR.

Since 2011 to date, Saina’s wife and mother have been waiting almost hopelessly for the day he would regain freedom and reunite with them. It is uncertain he would any time soon or if he is even still alive.

But the two women are yet to inform Walid about the condition of his father, seven years after his birth.

“I have not yet had the courage to tell him what happened to his father. It’s hard for me to tell him,” the old woman said, as tears of frustration rolled down her cheeks.

Overwhelmed by their own misfortune, other women seated on the floor joined her. Each woman taking time to bewail the disappearance of their sons or husbands.

They are members of Jire Dole, a network of survivors and relatives of missing persons, victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.

The group was formed about two years ago to put pressure on the government to account for the whereabouts of their sons and husbands. Women from different families, joined by a common burden of grief, shared their experience with The ICIR. At the last count, the group membership was over 3,000.

One of them was Zainab Muhammed, a 53-year-old Kanuri woman. Her son, Ibrahim Muhammed, aged 16, was arrested in 2012 on Baga Road in Maiduguri on the way to the market where he went to buy thread and other sewing materials.

He went with his elder brother; both are apprentice tailors. But it turned out that soldiers were conducting a raid that morning, an operation that had almost become a routine in the city of Maiduguri. Many young men escaped arrest that day, but Ibrahim was unlucky.

When the news of his arrest reached home, his parents dashed out to secure his release before he could be taken into detention. But they were not quick enough.

“It was raining heavily that morning, yet we dashed out, walked long distances in the rain, and we did not feel it. When we reached Sector One in Baga road, soldiers chased us away, threatening to shoot if we didn’t go back. I became ill when I got home, coughing seriously,” Zainab recounted.

For three months, she was homebound and heard no news of her son. When she was told later that those arrested had been taken to Giwa barracks, her hope of seen Ibrahim again dimmed.

But a Good Samaritan showed forth ­– or so she thought. He was a soldier. He promised to help Ibrahim gain freedom. And to do that, he would have to bribe several guards at Giwa Barracks.

He demanded N300, 000, but the family could only raise N150, 000, borrowed at a high-interest rate. An arrangement was made. Ibrahim would be brought loaded together with corpses of suspected Boko Haram members due for the morgue that day.

At that time, in Maiduguri, it was learnt that a military ambulance (Hiace bus) with registration number N432 used to discharge heaps of corpses every week at the hospital. The ambulance did many trips in a day, a resident who worked with the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, in Maiduguri told The ICIR.

On April 2, 2013, at least 67 unknown corpses deposited in Borno State Specialist Hospital were waiting to be disposed off by the Borno Environmental Protection Agency, BOSEPA, according to a document obtained by The ICIR.

But on the day the soldier promised to bring Zainab’s son along with dead bodies , the soldier was nowhere to be seen. Though corpses of many youths were delivered at the hospital that day, Ibrahim was not among them.

“We waited all day, but he did not show up. The man [the soldier] has a Christian name, but I cannot remember again. His duty station used to be Borno State Specialist Hospital,” she told The ICIR amidst tears.

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