Dorcas Yakubu: Chibok schoolgirl turns 20 in Boko Haram custody

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Maida Yakubu pleaded with the government to agree to a prisoner swap in return for the girls' freedom

Dorcas was kidnapped as a 15-year-old schoolgirl but turns 20 today while still in captivity.

Dorcas Maida Yakubu, one of the 276 female students kidnapped by Boko Haram has turned 20 years old, over four years after her abduction from which she hasn't returned.

Yakubu was one of the victims of abduction when terrorists invaded the premises of Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok, Borno state, and kidnapped the girls from their school hostel on April 14, 2014. When the abduction happened, she was 15 years old, the oldest of her mother's five children.

 

Since the girls' abduction over four years ago, 164 have regained their freedom through escapes and two high-profile releases of a total of 103 of the girls. Yakubu has not been lucky to be one of them.

Yakubu has been one of the most recognisable faces of the Chibok abduction mess after she was first featured in one of Boko Haram's proof of life videos back in 2016.

Yakubu's message from Boko Haram captivity

In the August 2016 video, a masked terrorist stood in front of the abducted girls to make them send a message to their parents to beg the Nigerian government to release Boko Haram members in various detention centres in exchange for them.

Yakubu was the only girl allowed to speak in the video as she asked her parents to beg the government to agree to Boko Haram's demand so that all the Chibok girls can return home. In the video, she identified herself as Maida Yakubu from Chibok and noted that they had been in captivity for two years at that time.

 

With a mix of English and her native Kibaku language, she said, “Our parents please exercise patience. We are suffering here. There is no kind of suffering we haven't seen. Our sisters are injured; some have wounds on their heads and bodies.

“Tell the government to give them their people so we can also come to be with you. We are all children and we don't know what to do. The suffering is too much, please endeavour as we also have exercised patience.

“There is nothing you, or we can do about this but to get their people back to them, so we can go home. Exercise patience as we also have endured.”

The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy group that has been campaigning for the return of the Chibok girls for years confirmed that it was indeed Yakubu in the video and pressed on the government to intensify efforts to get Yakubu and all the other girls back.

ALSO READ: What has happened to Chibok girls 4 years after Boko Haram abduction?

A different Yakubu just months later

 

When the government later struck a deal with the terrorists and got 103 girls back in two groups, first in October 2016 and then May 2017, Yakubu was unlucky to not make the cut.

However, in a video released by Boko Haram in the wake of the May 2017 release, Yakubu made another appearance, this time apparently objecting to returning home to her parents.

Covered with a black veil over her face and holding an AK-47 rifle, she identified herself, surrounded by three other girls, and said she doesn't want to return home because her parents “live in the town of unbelievers”.

She said, “Our parents are not doing the wish of Allah and we want them to follow us. We don't want to go back.”

She also revealed in the video that she might have married a Boko Haram fighter and was not forced to do so against her will.

“Among us, those who wanted to marry freely made the decision without being forced,” she said.

When Yakubu's mother, Esther Mutari, watched the video, she was distressed and heartbroken and told AFP that her daughter must have been under duress.

She said, “For me, this video is torture. I haven't slept since I watched it. The tie that binds us is unbreakable. It's just not possible that my daughter prefers her kidnappers to me.”

 

The stories of physical and sexual abuse of Boko Haram hostages are well-documented and is definitely a factor in the change that Yakubu has undergone in captivity. Stories that Yakubu, and many others like her, have been forced to adapt to their terrible situations in captivity should fill anyone with woe and pity.

Even though the federal government continues to fill the Chibok parents with hope that their children will return home eventually, the parents of Yakubu, and 111 others like her, continue to feel the sting of their absence and possible fates in their 4-year long captivity.

Yakubu turns 20 today, June 8, 2018, and it remains to be seen if we'll ever get to see her again.

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