A young woman found wandering in northeast Nigeria who police said was one of more than 200 missing schoolgirls was actually abducted four months earlier, a source said Monday.
National police had said that they believed the woman, who was discovered near Mubi in Adamawa state on September 24, was among the 219 teenagers kidnapped by the Islamist group from the town of Chibok in neighbouring Borno in April.
The announcement raised hopes for the release of the schoolgirls, whose abduction caused global outrage, but Chibok elders immediately disputed the claim, saying she was not on the list of missing and did not come from the town.
Now a source with detailed knowledge of the young woman’s case said she had told the authorities that she was snatched four months earlier than the schoolgirls in a separate raid.
“She is a 23-year-old woman from Mubi. She was abducted in January by Boko Haram and taken to Sambisa Forest, where they have their enclave,” the source told AFP.
“She was taken as a wife by a Boko Haram member called Mohammed. She was already married before she was abducted.”
Boko Haram had used the kidnapping of young women and girls as a tactic even before the Chibok raid, and the young woman’s abduction appeared to fit a pattern documented by rights groups.
The young woman said she became pregnant and fell sick and that on September 19, her new husband’s friends bundled her into a car and dumped her in the bush, where she wandered for four days, the source added.
She was eventually found near a village called Plefu in the Hong local government district before being taken to a police station in Mubi, the source said.
“I asked her why did her husband’s friends take her and abandon her in the bush without her husband being present. She told me that it is the norm with Boko Haram. Any of the girls they keep them and use them as sex slaves.
“Each time a woman falls sick and they suspect she may not survive they will take her into the bush and abandon her to die.”
The woman was now said to be in military custody in Abuja, the source added.