A respected human rights activist in Northeast Nigeria, popularly called “Mama Boko Haram”, has appealed to the Boko Haram abductors to release kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirls. She is strongly convicted that the Abu Musab Al-Barnawi-led faction of Boko Haram might be responsible for their abduction.
Boko Haram stormed a high school in Dapchi, a locality in the northern Nigerian state of Yobe, last week Monday, and abducted about 110 girls.
A week after the mass kidnap, the girls remain missing and the administration President Muhammadu Buhari has not said much.
In a statement last week, the presidency described the mass kidnap as a “purported” abduction, casting doubt that it took place.
The latest kidnap comes more than three years after almost 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, a town in Borno state. The mass abduction triggered outrage around the world and is believed to have cost former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan the presidency.
Jonathan was defeated by Buhari who vowed to eliminate Boko Haram and rescue the Chibok girls. But so far, he has not been successful three years after he took over from Jonathan in 2015.
“Mama Boko Haram” whose real name is Aisha Alkali Wakil, a lawyer and a former member of the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the northern region of Nigeria under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan, had, in previous efforts, brought military officers and Boko Haram commanders together during negotiations.
She was also credited for the release of some abductees from the Boko Haram sect via phone calls to the leadership, including some Chibok girls.
Speaking to PRNigeria in Maiduguri, Aisha who is believed to be highly respected by some leaders of Boko Haram said she was ready to sacrifice her life to rescue the girls from abductors.
The activist was reported to have helped in the circumcision of some kids over two decades ago who later became Boko Haram members. Her relationship with the sect members earned her the name ‘Mama Boko Haram.’
Disturbed about the latest abduction of 110 students of Government Girls Technical College Dapchi, Aisha has renewed her commitment to fight to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
The activist who cried profoundly said “This thing that is happening, is really breaking my heart. These children don’t even know what they are doing. Some of them were not even born at the time this thing started.
“Wallahi I will go after them, even if it will take my life to save these girls. They call me Mummy, but they don’t listen to me. I keep on talking to them, begging them to lay down their arms and embrace peace but they will say ‘Insha-Allah mummy we are going to stop.’ Sometimes they will say they are scared they are going to be killed but I will tell them nobody is going to kill you.”
Appealing to the leader of the Boko Haram Sect, Aisha said: “I heard you are now been called ‘Abu Mussad Albarnawi’ but I know you as Habib and I am begging you to stop the killing and abduction. I have sent many messages to you. I don’t know if you are getting these messages or you just choose to continue to hurt your mother and make her cry.
“Dear Habib, Nuru and others, I was told you may be the ones responsible for the kidnapped of these girls. Where ever you may be if you are listening to me, I beg you in the name of Allah to release the girls back to their families.
“What type of children will continue letting their mother to continue crying. Dear Habib, I pray Allah touches your heart and that of your colleagues to stop what you are doing. Please come out. I will never deny you even if the whole world did. Those who know you know your heart. They know you are no longer interested in the fight anymore.
“I will hold all of you and wrap you with my wrapper and bring you out and no one is going to shoot you. If they will shoot you, they will have to shoot me first. I don’t mind sacrificing my life if you will stop what you are doing. If I die to stop Boko Haram, I know I will go to paradise.”
Respected by many in her community, Aisha Wakil has been actively involved in efforts to end Boko Haram through her NGO “Complete Care and Aid Foundation” aimed at restoring peace to the northeast by rehabilitating the youth against warped ideologies that mislead them to join the terror group.
The organisation is designed to provide a free feeding centre, fight drug abuse, sex hawking, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and de-worming among persons displaced by the insurgency.