For six months the world has waited for news of the fate of more than 200 girls abducted by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. As the Nigerian government insists a deal to release the “Chibok girls” is being negotiated, three girls who escaped their captors have told their story to BBC Hausa.
Lami, Maria and Hajara were at school in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, when they were kidnapped in April. Best friends Lami and Maria escaped by jumping from the back of a truck. Hajara was taken to a camp but later fled with another girl.
To protect the girls’ identity we have portrayed their story as an animation, and provided an edited transcript of their account below.
The girls’ names have been changed for their protection.
Animation by Luis Ruibal.
The BBC’s 100 Women season runs online, on BBC World News TV and on BBC World Service radio from 27-29 October.
Lami: It was Monday night. We had exams the following day. Then we started to hear shootings in the town. So we went out. We phoned our parents to tell them what was happening in the town. They told us to run away when we got the chance. We told them that the town was already surrounded so there was no way we could run.
Maria: Lami woke me up saying: “Maria didn’t you hear what’s happening? Haven’t you heard sounds of shooting from the town?”
I said we should climb the wall and run away. She said: “No. No-one has run away. We should gather in one place and wait to see what’s going to happen.”
Other girls said nothing would happen to us. “We’re girls. They don’t do anything to girls. We should wait and see what God would do.”
Lami: We were at the school when suddenly three Boko Haram members entered.
They said: “If any of you attempt to leave we’ll kill all of you.” When we went out they were everywhere. They gathered us where we have our school assembly. As we were there they kept burning the school. They burnt everything.
Hajara: They asked us to get out of the gate, saying that when we were out they would let us go back to our homes. They said whoever did not have a headscarf or shoes should go and get them. They then asked us to climb on to a lorry, on top of the food loaded in it. The lorry was so high that we couldn’t easily climb on.
Maria: They said to us: “You’re only coming to school for prostitution. Boko (Western education) is haram (forbidden) so what are you doing in school?”
We kept quiet. I think there could have been about 100 Boko Haram members – they were all over the school. They outnumbered us. They took us away in their vehicles. We were sitting on oil drums in the vehicle. Our vehicle was really overloaded. We were saying to one another that we should throw away our shoes and scarves so that if our parents came they would know the road we had taken.