A 17-year-old girl, Zainab Abu has voluntarily got married to a Boko Haram member in the Kurebe community of Niger State.
The incident happened in October after the insurgents had flooded, settled in the community and begun to indoctrinate young residents in strange Islamic creeds.
According to a resident who spoke to Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), Kurebe became vulnerable to the insurgents due to the evacuation of military personnel about three months earlier and the porous nature of the Kaduna-Niger borders.
FIJ said a few months ago, the jihadist assembled Kurebe residents and told them all young girls had to get married lest they were forcefully married to terrorists.
Following the order, village elders in Kurebe advised that all their girls take shelter at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps to prevent the terrorists from marrying them. But one Zainab refused to go as she preferred to get married to a terrorist.
Zainab, 17, soon became the wife of a dreaded Boko Haram member in the community. Her sudden desire to be married to a Boko Haram terrorist created an atmosphere of discomfort for the elders of the village. But her decision was made already.
“They have been preaching against us since last month,” said an elder in Kurebe. “They denounce us before our children, instilling in them weird Islamic ideologies.”
“Why the military formation was withdrawn remains unknown to us. We were only told they would be replaced at the time they were being evacuated,” another resident said.
“The father pleaded with her, but she would not listen. Just last month, her terrorist suitor came with his cohorts, seeking her hand in marriage. She accepted with her mother’s support,” a witness of the wedding told this newspaper.
Community leaders are worried that after Zainab relocated to the terrorists’ den, from where she often comes to visit her mother, other girls might be indoctrinated.
“We are scared she might lure other girls into an unholy marriage with other members of the group,” one of the community leaders said.
As it stands, residents of Kurebe do not know the terrorists’ next plan.
“Who knows what they will be up to the next time they come?” A resident asked. “Anything can happen since there are no military checkpoints in this axis.”
The Niger State Government is aware of the presence of Boko Haram in the state, but it is helpless.
Suleiman Chukuba, Chairman of Shiroro Local Government, confirmed the influx of Boko Haram elements, saying four wards had been affected.
He said the residents knew from their mode of preaching that they were Boko Haram elements.
“They told villagers that they had money to help them and that they had guns to give them to fight the government. And that is the same doctrine we know Boko Haram elements promote,” he said.