BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – An aid worker with Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), Miss Jennifer Ukambong Samuel, an indigene of Plateau State, who was recently released by members of the Boko Haram terrorists, has given insight into how she and eight other abductees survived the harsh and hard life in captivity.
The humanitarian aid worker, who breathed the air of freedom last week along with four others after spending weeks in captivity in the Northeast, said that life was harsh, tough and fearful. According to her her, you only live by the minute as any little movement of gun shots frightens you to your bone.
Jennifer, who arrived her family home situated in Jos, the Plateau State capital, a development that electrified the area with wild jubilation among her family, relations, colleagues, friends, neighbours and other joyous celebrants.
Asked of her experience, Jennifer paused for a while as if she wanted to answer an examination question and then heaved a sigh of relief and said; “It was a miracle to be released and to be alive because others whom we met in captivity are still there. We count ourselves so lucky, very lucky. It was just God and God alone.”
Jennifer explained that she was abducted along the Borno-Monguno road on her way to Jos at about 8 o’clock in the morning by the dreaded insurgents in military uniforms. She further said that after stopping several other vehicles, profiling occupants, asking some to go while brutally shot some others on the spot and left them on the tarred road, they decided to lead some of us they selected into the bush and from there we started transiting to their camp.
According to Jennifer; “While in captivity, the insurgents shot their guns from time to time outside the zinc rooms we were kept as a sign of alerting us that they were around or within.
“We were provided with food stuffs to cook by ourselves and we did. There is no meat but we were given dry fish to use for the cooking. They come around from time to time to ask us if we need anything.
“The first week, we were under lock and key, but from the second week, we were allowed to go out of the rooms into a fenced compound that has tree leaves as camouflaged roof.
“All cooking must come to an end on or before 5pm after which we will all return to our rooms using a torchlight which they provided us in the room till morning.
“I and the others only eat once a day because we do fast and pray for our safety, but we never allowed them to know that we were fasting. At a point, I made up my mind that whatever happens to me, so be it.
“We were not sexually abused, but they kept preparing our minds psychologically for eventual marrying-off to someone else if need be which they said and usually made us to believe that is their belief.
“When news began to filter in that some of us might be released, I did not believe until it happened. During the course of my captivity or our captivity, we were taken to three different locations, passing through forests, criss-crossing tarred roads intermittently and crossing different rivers. They know all the bush paths and forests as they most of the times use GPRS to know where they were heading.
“On the day of our release, we travelled for 26 hours in the car (from 3pm-5pm the next day) before we were set free.”
Asked if she saw or met Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi Government Girls Science And Technical College, in Yobe State, Jennifer said that she did not set her eyes on her but quickly added another abductee-Alice, who has been in captivity for about two years now, told her that Leah is doing fine.
Jennifer also said that she did not see any of the Chibok girls, adding that the reason why Alice was still held was because negotiation for her release between the insurgents and the government broke down making the insurgents to feel that the government is not serious.
Jennifer surprised people around when said that in spite of her experience in the valley of the shadows of death, she would not mind returning to the Northeast to continue her humanitarian work, saying that what happened to her and other aid workers remains one of the hazards of the job.
The freed aid worker however challenged Nigerians to fervently pray for those still in captivity, adding that divine intervention is seriously needed so that God in His infinite mercies and miraculous ways would answer their prayers and set them free too.