A SAD ENCOUNTER WITH A LIBERIAN WHOSE NIGERIAN SOLDIER HUSBAND WAS BURNT TO ASHES BY BOKO HARAM
It was a true love story when they met. She was just 15 and her country was in turmoil.
Mayhem was let loose and brothers killed brothers in a civil war that was snowballing into genocide. Could it be worse than Rwanda? It had the potential.
But the international community, perhaps reacted faster than they did in Rwanda and averted what had the potential to be deadlier than what happened in Rwanda.
Many peace-keeping missions invaded Liberia and mustered forces to quell the inferno. Nigeria played a prominent role in ending the Liberian crisis. John(not real name) was among the Nigerian troops in Liberia. He fought wars, stayed in the forests, starved in some cases, escaped bullets from the warring factions but the end justified the means as he was among the heroes that ended the war in Liberia and brought peace to our continent.
It was while fighting the war in Liberia that he met the love of his life. John was in his late 30s and the girl that charmed him was just 15. They became inseparable and got married in Nigeria on John’s return from the mission where he saved lives and properties.
Today, they have three children; the first is eight, the second five and last three years. But where is John?
That 15 year old girl is now 24 and a mother of three. We caught up with her at the Ojo Barracks and she was in tears. Her sorrow seemed limitless.
“It’s very painful losing your husband this way. If this is what life is all about then I don’t really know how to describe it other than nothing.”
At 24 she is now a widow. Her late husband was posted to the North East to fight Boko Haram. The insurgents killed him. And now, like late Koofi Awoonor wrote in Songs of Sorrow, the sun beats her on one side and the rain on the other side.
Hear her story:
”It is a painful experience losing one’s husband and yet facing this excruciating situation.”
“I am an orphan. My husband was all I had and that is why I feel very bad that he died in the battle. He had been going to war. There was a time he was instructed to follow a troop to Bayelsa state. He spent three years there battling with the militants. He did not die. He fought in Liberia. He did not die. He died in his own country in what I still can’t understand.”
Narrating how her husband died, she said, “he was on an escort with his Colonel and other eight soldiers when Boko Haram sect attacked them. They fell in an ambush. He was said to have been burnt to ashes by the sect. We didn’t see his remains. He was burnt to ashes. How can one survive this sorrow? How can one survive this mental torture?
“In Liberia, soldiers and their families are treated very well. If a soldier dies in Liberia, his family members will be taken care of. His children will be on scholarship up till higher institution. But, I don’t know if it is the same here in Nigeria.
“The letter I was given indicated that Nigerian government will sponsor my children to school but right now, I don’t know how realistic it is”, she lamented.
Asked if she was satisfied with the Nigerian government on how Nigerian soldiers and their families are treated; she said: “I am not satisfied because they are making many women widows. I am already a widow at 24. I am not happy with the Nigerian government.”
“My husband went on the Boko Haram mission on December 23, 2013. When he narrated his mission, I wasn’t comfortable. Each time, he briefed me on the activities, they were always horrible stories. They were horrible stories of how they were killing people, how they were torturing people to death, something you can’t believe human beings will do. My children and I used to pray for him, but unfortunately, he died in the battle five weeks ago.
“I discouraged him from embarking on the Boko Haram assignment but he said, there was nothing he could do to abort the mission because it was the authority that signed him on.
“He told me that he did not want to go, that people die on a daily basis in Maiduguri,that the place is a dangerous zone, unfortunately, he died in that battle”.
“I did not hear the news of his death until after three weeks. My husband has left me and my children to suffer. I don’t know what to do or where to run to. His family members have abandoned us.
“I married him because I loved him. We have been married for eight years. I met him in Liberia when he came for peace keeping mission. It never occurred to me that he was going to die prematurely. He was born in Kogi State. He was in the military for 21 years before he died. He joined in 1993. He died and was buried in Maiduguri,” she said, sobbing and tears having a field day rolling down her face to her body.
This is only one of the numerous pathetic cases of families whose bread winners died in the fight against terror in Nigeria.
Some years back terror sounded like a fairytale on our shores. Today, it is real. Hordes of military men are being killed in the battle against Boko Haram. What happens to such bereaved families? How insured are our military men who risk their lives to keep Nigeria one and maintain law and order?
For Mrs. Maria Adamson (not real name), whose husband is still in active service, it’s all prayers so that the authorities do not post her husband to troubled spots.
Ï’ll just die if anything happens to my husband,” she tells us.
“He receives stipend as salary and I have to sell second hand wears to support him. We always pray that they don’t post him to Maiduguri or any of those states that Boko Haram operates. God will continue to hear our prayers.”
Another widow, Iya Akilo, as she is fondly called within the barracks in Ogun State, narrated her ordeal after the demise of her husband.
“When I lost my husband, I was confused and frustrated.
I have not received a positive response from the military authority on my husband’s gratuity. Getting compensation from the authority seems impossible. I have been going from one office to the other since the incident but there is nothing forth coming.