By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
The Boko Haram insurgency is far beyond the problem of the North East people as families in other parts of the country are now equally battling the bitter taste of the sect’s rampaging activities. One of such is Alhaji Mustapha Oyeyinka who is now cursing the day he decided to relocate to Nigeria from Europe where his family has been doing fine. Today, he has not only lost his sight to the insurgents but live with an agonizing memory of seeing his wife raped along with other women almost on a daily basis for three months in one of the camps of the deadly sect in Kaduna State.
Excited about his return to Nigeria, the victim sometime in February 2011 decided to take a trip to Kaduna with his wife, Rachael to attend a wedding ceremony. Unknown to him, that trip will alter his destiny as they ended up in a Boko Haram camp where they spent three horrifying months.
Enraged and bitter, the frustrated 50-year- old Oyeyinka said he has remained in hiding in Lagos since he regained his freedom and refused to tell his story because he was too terrified. He said he decided to open up now because he has made up his mind to return to his base in Spain in Europe where he expects a miracle to regain his sight. In an encounter with Saturday Sun, he told his sordid story.
As a matter of policy, Oyeyinka, who hails from Abeokuta in Ogun State, ensured that he comes home from Europe regularly in an attempt not to forget his roots. “Shortly after my university days, I relocated to Europe in 1988, in search of business opportunities. I was into importation and exportation of goods to and from Europe. I never wanted to forget my root hence I invested in Nigeria. I made it a matter of policy to always return to Nigeria and spend some months.
“As usual, we returned to Nigeria in November 2011 on a long vacation. The plan was to gradually relocate our children down to Nigeria, so that they will not forget their roots. It was also an opportunity to audit our investments and in February 2012, one of my friends invited us over to Kaduna for his wedding.
“I was so excited and my kids pleaded that they wanted to be a part of that trip. I refused because I wanted to use this as an opportunity to hang out with my wife alone. It was also an opportunity to return to the North and see how it had developed. In the early 90s, I used to buy goods from Saudi Arabia and sell them in Ilorin and Kano. I had a lot of friends in Kano.”
According to Alhaji Oyeyinka, his friend made arrangement for a mini bus that will convey them to and from Kaduna. The trip was very smooth till they got to Kaduna. “I do not know the village, but I know that it’s Kaduna because there was a billboard that had the address on it. We ran into a little traffic jam caused by some men who were in military uniform. They were stopping vehicles and searching them. When it got to our turn, they asked us to get down. The driver asked us to relax, as it was a routine.
“I later discovered that the soldiers were not wearing boots and some were smoking. I waved that observation aside since it was in a bush. I assumed that they were tired of wearing boots for hours. Suddenly, there were gunshots; people started lying down on the floor while some were shouting Jesus! Jesus! In a split of seconds, they shot all those who they heard shouting Jesus. It was then that it dawned on me that these were no robbers.”
Terrified and quietly praying for divine intervention, Alhaji Oyeyinka laid on the ground alongside others who survived the shooting. Minutes later, a truck emerged from the bush and they were asked to step into the truck. “We were more than 50 that were packed in the open truck and the rest in another truck. They drove into the bush and at a point stopped and blindfolded everyone. Everyone was silent, except for the loud voice of our captors who kept speaking Arabic language. I am a Muslim scholar, and understand the language although I cannot speak. I was more terrified wondering if they were Talibans. After driving about 50 kilometres, they stopped and asked us to get down from the truck. Our blindfolds were removed.
“We found ourselves in a camp built with mini halls which later turned out to be our detention room. There were so many young men. It was then that they told us in Hausa that they are Boko Haram members. I don’t understand Hausa, so some of us helped to interpret what they were saying. They collected our phones, and asked us to strip down including the women.
“They asked if there is anyone related to the president or any influential Nigerian. Those who said yes were immediately slaughtered and their bodies taken away. Those who claimed that they were Christians were also killed if they failed to renounce their religion. I told them that I am a practising Muslim and they asked me if I was ready to kill for Allah. I kept quiet and the leader of the group said that with time I would beg to join them.
“It was then that I said never and one of them hit me on the head with his gun. I fainted and woke up later in an open hall with my hand and feet tied up. We were kept in that room without food until the next day when they came and took all the women out including my wife.
“They returned them two hours later. It was then my wife told me that they were raped by more than five men each. It was terrible, I couldn’t help my wife but I was consoled that she was still alive. Every day, they will come and carry all the women out to be raped and those who did not come back were slaughtered because they resisted. It was terrible knowing that every day different kind of men will forcefully have sex with your wife and you cannot do anything about it.”
He also claimed that they were only fed with beans, once in a day. “Initially, we were only drinking water and a can of juice. It was days later that they announced that food has arrived and asked if there was anyone in our midst that can cook. Two persons volunteered and they were taken to the kitchen every day to prepare beans. It was always half done and the excuse that was given is that they do not have enough firewood to cook beans”.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Alhaji Oyeyinka, who could barely see again, waited endlessly for a messiah. “Then I had completely lost my sight. The after effect of that gun on my head was blindness. I was lucky that my wife was with me to attend to me if need be. On May 8, 2011, the camp remained deserted because they had gone out to hunt. One of the guards came to our cell and picked the prettiest woman among the women. For fear that his people might see him; he shifted her to the end of the hall and had sex with her there. She was just screaming. While he was at it, we heard the sound of the truck, and he quickly ran out of the hall and forgot to lock the cell. They all jumped into the truck and drove off.
“We waited till everywhere was really quite and took off into the bush. My wife was there to assist me since I could no longer see. We only left a young girl who was too weak behind. She was young and beautiful, so sometime they will come for her more than once in a day. It was a survival of the fittest, so we left her behind.
“We got to a point and a Fulani woman who was fetching firewood asked us to follow her. She took us to their village head where we were given food and clothes. He also made an arrangement for a vehicle to take us to Kaduna town. We took the next bus down to Lagos.”
Plans to regain sight
Ever since, they escaped from Boko Haram camp, Alhaji Oyeyinka is yet to regain his sight. “Initially, I thought that I was still suffering from the after effect of the gun that was hit on my face. I got the shock of my life when I was told that I am permanently blind. I have visited different hospitals in Nigeria and the story is the same. I am not losing hope that I will regain my sight. I will soon travel back to Europe where I hope to get my sight back. I have already started selling off every of my investments. I do not want to have anything to do with Nigeria again. I am telling my story, not for anyone to pity me but to draw the attention of Nigerians who are planning to go to the North to beware”.
Our plight, our destiny— Wife
Collaborating her husband’s story, Mrs. Rachael Oyeyinka who still looks visibly shaken said that it was God that destined that they will survive the abduction. “They took turns to rape all the women. I cannot count the number of times but every day. Some of the women got pregnant, and they were given concoctions to drink and flush it out. So many of the women who resisted were killed. If you are very pretty, they will initially reserve you for their leader. As soon as he gets another replacement, he will push the woman out for general use. It was bad and I remained strong because I had children who still need their mother. Today, my husband is blind but we strongly hope that he will regain his sight.
“I can’t wait to get out of this country. We are based in Spain and because my husband wanted to relocate some of the kids to Nigeria, we returned about three years ago. The plan was for them to go into boarding house, while our relatives will serve as guardians.”
Continuing, she said: “They forced a lot of Christians to denounce their religion. You don’t need anyone to tell you to claim to be a Muslim. This was the only way you can survive.”
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE