Hauwa Ibrahim fled her hometown of Gwoza when Boko Haram took control of the area, but lost her daughter in the process. In this interview, she shares how her daughter got captured by Boko Haram and how she and her family escaped to safety. She also talks about the Malkohi camp where she currently stays and how she and her family are making ends meet.
This interview is part of a body interviews done in partnership between Guardian Newspaper and Oxfam Nigeria. For information on how to support local organizations working with displaced people in the northeast, reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Hauwa Ibrahim and I am from the town of Gwoza. It was the time Boko Haram entered our community that I left Gwoza.
In Gwoza town, when the attack came it was on a Tuesday evening. We all ran into our houses and stayed indoors for two days. On Thursday, we couldn’t stay any longer, because we got information that Boko Haram were out to kill only our husbands, so that’s when we set out and ran away from Gwoza we ran to Madagali. Our husbands ran and went to the hills. Some of the men went to meet with their families when things got quiet, but for me I didn’t see my husband till after another Thursday when he eventually turned up because all of us were apprehensive.
At the time the military came over to take the town of Gwoza everyone went haywire. People ran helter- skelter. My daughter who at the time was almost 12 years old ran away I didn’t know where everybody ran to because we were running. I have 6 children, and four are biologically mine (2 belong to my co–wife). At the time when the aircrafts came and they were shooting down to recapture the town of Gwoza, I decided to take these children and run away. That was when I learnt my daughter was taken by Boko Haram.
We escaped to Madagali because it is not too far from Gwoza. While we were trying to leave Madagali we now found out that Madagali has been shut down because Boko Haram had captured Madagali as well. Everybody was look to leave Madagali, but I wanted to get my daughter back. I had information that she was with Boko Haram, so I sent my younger kids to go back to Gwoza and get her so we can run away together. But my daughter had already been hypnotized by them. She said they were actually going to come and help us so we will run away from Madagali but it was obvious that they were going to hold us hostage. I decided that we weren’t going to sleep in Madagali that night. We met with someone who said he was going to help us, so we begged him to take us to the border town, and I got him a little something to give him as a thank you.
We were able to cross into Cameroon through Yaounde town. Some of their customs officers who were very nice to us; they gave us food for our children and opened a room for us in one of their offices and let us to lie down. It was there they were able to get us a vehicle to another small village not too far from there.
We were in Makolo for three days, from where we were able to get a bigger vehicle that will transport all of us. It was there I was able to get my husband’s number and I called him. He said he was already in Yola and if we were able to get ourselves out of there, we will meet him up in Yola. So they got us out there and took us to another place close to the border that wasn’t too far from Yola, then we got another vehicle that transported us to Yola.
In Yola, we got information that the people of Gwoza had a settlement community in Malkohi. That was how we got here. God has been good to us so far.
But I still have not found any information my daughter. My husband used to be a driver. He left Gwoza without anything, not even shoes. Someone got him a tricycle a keke napep (commercial tricycle) and bought 4, and that was what he was using to make some earnings with that he was able to get some money. Now the keke napep work has folded up. He bought me a grinding machine and sewing machine because that used to be my business before at home. That is what we are keeping up with now.
Testimonial Archive Project interviewed Peter Egwudah, Program Coordinator of Oxfam International local partner Civil Society Coalition for Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE) in Yola, Adamawa State. This interview was conducted thanks to partnership with Oxfam International and Guardian Newspaper. Egwudah has lived in Yola since 2014, and has been working to support communities of displaced people and those who have lost their livelihood and homes as a result of the Boko Haram conflict. In this interview, Egwudah talks about the relationship between local civil society organizations in the region and the military, international organizations and government. He talks about the situation facing people who have lost their livelihood due to the Boko Haram conflict, and proffers ways forward for the government in improving the dire situation facing displaced people in the region. He also talks about the cash transfer program his organization extends to displaced people and the importance of the upcoming local elections in Michika Local Government Area that was postponed for the third time at the time of this posting.
TAP interviewed some displaced people at a settlement of displaced people from Borno State located just outside Abuja. Here, we met Ibrahim, a young businessman and father from Gwoza. Boko Haram burned down his two homes. They also burned down his two cars, one of which had his life savings. With no money, he was forced to run away from his hometown for shelter.
Ibrahim’s story was translated for TAP by an English-speaking member of the community.
Translation: They were living happily. Then Boko Haram came and killed many people. They shot his brother as they were running away, and he wasn’t able to stay and help him. He had to run for his life. He had one trouser, one shirt, one slippers. He stayed here. He met others that they suffered together.
Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji is the Director of the Borno State-based federal body Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), which is in charge of managing agriculture in Nigeria’s conflict-affected northeastern zone. He has lived in Borno State since 1988 when he started working at the LCRI and has been working with farmers in the region ever since. He speaks to TAP about how violence in the northeast has affected food prices in Nigeria, how farmers in conflict-affected states have fared over the last 6 years, opportunities for agricultural development in the northeast, and what he believes the federal and the region’s state governments must do to get the region’s farmers resettled and the region’s agriculture-based economy working again.
TAP interviewed Mary from Adamawa State in a recent visit to a displacement camp in Nasarawa State. Mary recounts fleeing her town in Gwoza Local Government, Borno State, when Boko Haram destroyed her home in August 2014. She has been running ever since, first trekking about seven hours from her hometown in Gwoza across the border to Cameroon, then another approximately 23-hour walk from Mokolo in northern Cameroon to Mubi, Adamawa State. She ended up in a settlement for displaced people in Nasarawa State.
Mary Paul from Adamawa State fled her village in Michika Local Government in Adamawa State after a Boko Haram attack. She has moved from place to place since then, and has most recently settled in Waru Community in Abuja. She shares her story and her expectations of the new government.
What is your name?
I am Mary Paul from Adamawa State, Michika local Government.
Why are you in Waru?
My purpose of coming here is because of Boko Haram issue. They entered our village last year September 7. Majority of the people were in the church. They werer shouting ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, God is great, God is great’. They were firing gun shots. Before we knew it we were already running from one mounting to another mounting and another village to another village. That is how we ran from our village to Mubi and from Mubi to Yola, before they sent transport to us and we are here. When we came, we slept in Nyanya, and they said they will get house for us cheap, I better we remain here. When we got here, they took us to the chief, and we explained to the chief and he said there is no problem.
A young volunteer resident in Yola spoke with displaced persons granted shelter in a camp in Yola, Adamawa State. The displaced from this camp were mostly from communities on the border with Borno and Adamawa States, including Madagali, Michika and Mubi. These interviews took place in the Hausa language, and a translation of the interviews is below.
What is your name?
Why are you here?
Well, we came to camp because in this camp, government is providing security for our lives, feeding us and taking care of our well being.
This post is part of a series of interviews with subject matter experts on the northeast of Nigeria and the ongoing militant violence. TAP hopes these interviews will contribute to an issue-driven conversation on what relevant actors in the region can do to help stop the violence and improve well-being of Nigerians living in violence-prone areas.
Among the challenges in information sharing on the situation ongoing in northeast Nigeria is getting a sense of what the state government is doing to alleviate suffering of the population under its aegis, and what support is needed on the well-being of Nigerians living in the area. The Borno Commissioner of Health Min. Salma Anas-Kolo talked to TAP 10 days ago about her work in service delivery in Borno State, sharing insight into the challenges of internal displacement, the state of public health, and the ways in which state and federal governments are working together in healthcare. She talks about the overcrowding at the displacement camps and the cholera outbreak in the camps as a result. She also addresses the state’s provision of mental health services to 57 girls from Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State who managed to escape their abductors, and the challenges the state is facing in terms of human resources and support.
An aerial attack on Kafa village in Yobe State killed Zara’s grandson and brother, while Aisha’s husband and 2 children are missing. Both women have been displaced from their homes and robbed of their livelihood. A volunteer for TAP Salihu spoke to the two women in Yobe State through an interpreter. Aisha and Zara speak Kanuri, but the interpreter and the interviewer spoke Hausa.
Salihu – Can you please tell us your name and your state, just the first name
Ahmed, a young man who used to live in Maiduguri but has since left for Abuja, tells TAP how he lost two younger siblings, his family home and a cousin over the past year due to militia violence. He also talks about how communities used to harbor militants, thinking they were working for religious reasons, but how that has now appeared not to be so. He has asked that his voice be altered before posting his testimony.
There were two of my younger ones that we went home to pay for their school fees. At the end of the day, they went to register when those guys struck and killed the two of them and that’s one bitter experience. Some military men were pursuing one of the guys and was holding gun. We entered into one corner. The people of that area, they are the one who took the guy, brought one of the guys into their home and hid him, instead of releasing the guy to the military to arrest him and then maybe persecute. They said that the man is working for them. With the way things are happening in my place before, we thought these guys were out for something like maybe religion, but from what we are seeing its like it is beyond religion. We cannot know what exactly is happening in my area. Everyone is being attacked. There’s no discrimination against religion, sex, or any other thing. they just attack at random.