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Chibok schoolgirl: "They drove off with us"

Uwais Idris, Jan-Philipp Scholz / gu
May 20, 2014

Nigeria's extremist group Boko Haram is still holding over 200 schoolgirls captive. DW reporters met a girl who managed to escape. She is leveling serious accusations against the security forces and against her school.

Portrait of the girl from Chibok who managed to flee from Boko Haram. Photo: Jan-Philipp Scholz
Image: DW/J.-P. Scholz

Deutsche Welle: Can you remember the moment when Boko Haram attacked your school?

Esther Musa*: We were in the dormitory. It was around ten in the evening when the men from Boko Haram came and said: All of you, come together and follow us! We did what they demanded. Then they put us in the vehicles and drove off with us.

What were you thinking when that happened?

I thought to myself: Today the end of my life has come. They will kill us all. I can remember thinking that God would take care of me.

Then what happened?

At some point, several of my schoolmates and I pretended that we needed to go and relieve ourselves. And then all we did was run. After a while we saw a house that belonged to Fulanis [an ethnic group in the region]. We asked them: Can you show us the road to Chibok? The man told us that it was very far to Chibok, but he showed us how to get to the next village. There we asked whether there was any transport to Chibok. They felt it was too late and said it would be better to spend the night in the village. They gave us clean clothes, and the next day we tried to get back to Chibok.

And were you able to return the next day?

No, we then came to a military checkpoint. When they found out that we belonged to the kidnapped girls from Chibok, they told us we could not go back to our families. They ordered us to go with them to their barracks in Maiduguri [the capital of Borno state]. There we were supposed to tell their commanders that they had freed us from Boko Haram captivity. They kept us in the barracks for a few days, before we were brought to the governor.

But the school had been being guarded by police officers and there were teachers there, too. How did they react when the school was attacked?

They were no longer there. They ran away.

They all ran away and left you and your schoolmates alone in the school?


So they knew that something was about to happen?

Yes. It looks like someone said that Boko Haram wants to attack the school and that all the children should go home. They said: No one is going home, or they will lose their report cards.

Did you yourself have any idea that Boko Haram was going to attack?


And why didn't you and your schoolmates start to run when you saw that even the police was leaving the school?

(No answer.)

Please explain it again. The teachers did not let you and your schoolmates leave?

The vice-academic, he said: If you run away, your final exam will not count.

What comes to your mind when you think about all your schoolmates who are still in the hands of the terrorists?

I believe they are still alive. I feel very sorry for them.

And how do you feel? Can you even sleep at night, for example?

No, I can't sleep. I always have to think of them.

Can you eat?

Very little.

Have you received any help so far? Has there been any reaction by the government or have you received psychological support?

No, there is no help.

What type of help do you need?

I want to go back to school. Maybe you can help me.

But aren't you afraid to go back to school?

Yes, I am afraid. I am not going back to the school in Chibok. I would like to go to another school, somewhere else.

*Esther Musa is not her real name.

Interview: Uwais Idris, Jan-Philipp Scholz