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Insurgents tell families they will kill 30 abducted women if ransoms are not paid promptly

24 August 2023
Reading time: 5 minutes

Relatives are desperate to get enough money to pay insurgents the ransoms and have called on the Borno State government or a wealthy benefactor to come to their aid

Nine of the 48 women who were abducted by insurgents while they were collecting firewood in bushes in the Jere Local Government Area of Borno State on Tuesday morning have been released after relatives paid a ransom of ₦20,000 for each woman.

Another five women managed to escape.
Falmata Tijjani, one of those released on Wednesday evening, told RNI that the 48 women were collecting firewood in the bushes on Tuesday when suddenly they were surrounded by members of the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), better known as Boko Haram, who had been hiding close by.

“Everything was peaceful and we had no idea the Boko Haram fighters were hiding among the bushes nearby. We didn’t see them until we were surrounded.
“The insurgents took us deep inside the thick forest – a long way from where we were abducted. They kept us under a big tree. There were four elderly women among us and the insurgents told them they could go home.

Falmata said the 44 remaining women were terrified.

“They told us that if the ransom was not paid, they would kill us. We did not sleep on Tuesday night because we were so afraid.”

The insurgents were demanding ₦2 million for the release of all the women.
“We told them again and again that we were poor farmers and we did not have much money. They talked among themselves and later told us our relatives had to pay ₦20,000 naira for each abducted women.

“We are not sure who paid our ransom – I think the people in our camp gathered together and each gave something towards the ransom to secure our release. The insurgents allowed nine of us to go on Wednesday evening.”

Falmata said somehow five women had managed to escape

“That made the insurgents extremely angry. They told us to make it clear to the relatives of the 30 women still being held that if the community did not pay the ransom in time they would be killed.”

Falmata said she was so grateful that she had been among those released.
“It was a terrifying experience. I never want to go through that again.”
Shettima Musa, whose wife is still being held captive, told RNI that he was extremely worried about her because he did not have money to pay the ransom.
“My wife is works hard to support me and our children. She goes to the forest every morning to collect firewood. Now she has been abducted and I can’t afford to pay the ransom.

“When I heard that the insurgents had threatened to kill the remaining women if the ransoms were not paid on time, I got really scared. I am pleading with the government or maybe a wealthy benefactor to come to our aid and provide the ransom money.

“I saw the women who were released and their condition was most disturbing. Most of them were ill. They don’t have access to a hospital so they are back home.”

A member of the civilian joint task force (CJTF), who asked to remain anonymous, told RNI that the women were from Shuwari, an internally displaced persons’ camp that is on the border of the neighbouring Mafa district.
“The abduction of women by armed groups has increased alarmingly recently,” he said.

“Prior to the Tuesday’s incident, in the past month insurgents have abducted more than 150 women. Most of them are still being held captive. The insurgents pretend to be farmers and then, once the women are convinced and they relax, the insurgents strike and abduct them.”
Kachalla Maidugu, a government spokesman in the district, confirmed that the 48 women were abducted on Tuesday but said the incident was reported only late on Wednesday.

He said he had been told that the insurgents were demanding a ransom of ₦50,000 for each woman but that the locals were trying to negotiate for a lesser amount.

The CJTF member told RNI that earlier on Tuesday several of his colleagues who were escorting farmers to their lands came under heavy fire when they were ambushed by JAS insurgents.
“The attackers blocked the roads and started shooting. There were many insurgents so we were outnumbered and could not fight back. But, thankfully, all the farmers and CJTF members were able to escape.”

Babagana Mustapha, a farmer from Ngown village, told RNI that he and other farmers were on their way to their lands on Tuesday when they heard about the ambush.

“Our driver was told to go back because the vehicle in front of us was under attack. We were terrified and immediately returned home.

“I don’t think I can go back to my farm until the security situation improves. On Wednesday some farmers tried to go to their lands and they were again confronted by insurgents. They were forced to return home. Luckily no one was wounded.”


About the author

zainab alhadji ali