A Nigerian mother and her son both presumed dead after a Boko Haram massacre have reunited after 12 years.
According to an account by a US-based international human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, Rose was six months pregnant when Boko Haram insurgents invaded the police barracks where the family lived, shooting and blowing things up, killing people indiscriminately.
When they got to their door, her husband, Peter, a Police Officer, was ordered to come out.
When Peter (who had determined to rather go down fighting to defend his family) refused to come out, the insurgents barged in.
Peter released the salvos, taking down as many as he could, but he had only 36 bullets!
He soon ran out of ammunition, and he was captured.
The Boko Haram insurgents slit his throat and severed his head from his body.
They flung his decapitated head on the floor and ordered his wife to lie on the ground beside it.
Rose bolted instead, running as far as she could, for her pregnant state.
While she ran, three terrorists chased her.
One lashed out with a sword and slashed her arm. Rose pulled off her blouse and wrapped her arm to stem the blood flow, while still running.
According to an account given by a United Nations aid worker, another terrorist pushed her and she fell to the ground.
They held her down and ordered her to say: “Allahu Akbar!”
“‘Jesus! Jesus!” were the last words she said before they slit her throat and left her body spread out on the ground.”
Miraculously, three days later when city workers came to pick bodies for burial, they noticed that Rose’s hand twitched, feebly.
She was rescued!
The report added: “She spent three months in the emergency room and over a year in the first of several hospitals.”
Meanwhile, while the husband was engaging the terrorists before he was overpowered, his wife (Rose) had managed to hide their two children – one under the bed, the other inside a drum.
Three days after the attack, a colleague of her late husband went through their home and saw Peter’s decapitated body and a dead child under the bed.
But he found a boy in a drum – alive!
Presuming the whole family dead, the colleague had taken the boy (then seven years old) and raised him as his own.
Twelve years after that brutal attack, the boy (now a teenager) and his mother (another survivor) found each other alive.
The report as presented by Ogebe:
Heroic survivor reunites with child 12 years after brutal terrorist massacre
The sound of gunfire and explosions woke her up. In the corner she saw her husband pacing “before they kill me, I’ll take as many of them as I can,” said he.
“What if it’s just your fellow police officers shooting?” Rose asked. The gunfire was right in the police barracks and Rose still couldn’t believe the Boko Haram terrorists had the nerve to attack here too.
She was heavily pregnant – six months along – and could barely get up to rouse their kids while Peter cocked his rifle. He had just 36 bullets…
The terrorists came to their door and ordered him to come out. When Peter didn’t respond, they barged in. Bang! Bang! Bang! He squeezed the trigger as they streamed in.
“How many did he hit?” I asked Rose. “I saw several flee with injuries. The number I saw keel over dead were 8. Then he ran out of bullets.”
Boko Haram captured Peter and slit his throat till they completely severed his head.
They flung his decapitated head on the floor and asked her to lie on the ground beside it. She stooped as if complying then bolted for the door. She ran as fast as one could – running for two.
Three of the terrorists gave chase. One lashed out with a sword and slashed her arm. She pulled of her buttoned blouse and wrapped her arm to stem the blood flow while still running.
Another terrorist pushed her and she fell to the ground.
They pulled knives from their legs and held her down. “Say ‘Allahu Akbar!’,” they ordered. “Jesus! Jesus!” were the last words she said before they slit her throat and left her body spread out on the ground.
It began to rain and the wind swept dust and leaves on her. Mosquitoes swarmed her, drawn by the abundant cascading blood.
Three days later, city workers came to pick bodies for burial.
Rose’s feeble hand twitched. This one is alive but only just…
She spent three months in the emergency room and over a year in the first of several hospitals.
After one year and nine months of hospitalization, Rose was finally told her two kids’ died – killed with their dad. She’d lost the pregnancy too but Rose is alive, the sole survivor of the brutal terror attack.
Without a family, her father had come and spent a year with her in the hospital caring for her as her mum was ill in a different state.
As a widow of a valiant police inspector who put up a heroic fight to defend his barracks and was slain by the terrorists, Rose was entitled to some social protection – on the books. Yet her in-laws stripped their home of all possessions including her only surviving child who was out of town during the attack. She never saw a dime of her husband’s death benefits even though she was with him till death brutally did them part.
She was given an ultimatum to marry one of his brothers and be given her property and sole surviving son back. She declined and returned destitute to live with her parents in her home state. Then Boko Haram captured their town and she and the parents who cared for her in hospital all became internally displaced again.
In 2014, visiting US Congresswomen Frederica Wilson and Sheila Jackson Lee moved by her situation referred us to USAID in Nigeria. Nothing came out of our meeting.
We provided Rose seed money to raise chickens to support her son who had rejoined her but it is inadequate for rent, school fees and subsistence much less to visit her parents who she hadn’t seen for over two years. We sent her some money. She saw them and learnt she has lost so many more relatives to the terrorists.
With the aid of two friends and an NGO, we built her a place of her own to live with her sole surviving son.
Then this week she called me. “I have been trying your line since last month. My son is back. He’s been with me for a month now! We found him.”
At first, I couldn’t understand her. Maybe my westernized Hausa wasn’t good enough so I got a translator.
Then the unbelievable unfolded.
Flashing back to that horrible day in 2009, while her husband cocked his rifle in readiness for action, Rose had gone to rouse the kids from sleep.
While Peter bought time firing on the incoming Boko Haram terrorists, she hid one son under the bed and the other inside a drum.
Three days later, a colleague of her late husband went through their home and saw Peter’s decapitated body and a dead child under the bed. He found a boy in a drum – alive!
Assuming the whole family dead, he took the boy and raised him as his own. Only this year after 12 years did the teenager return to his mum – both pleasantly surprised to find each other alive. He was seven years old when Rose put him in a drum that fateful day…She put in a child and got back a teenaged man.
We met with them for the last day of our humanitarian mission to Nigeria. It was an epic turn to a gut-wrenching tragedy. It is one of the finest redemptive moments in human rights work.
I have since reached out to some of the US dignitaries Rose has met, including US Congressmen and women and a US presidential adviser who featured her in his book. They met for the first time last year during his visit to Nigeria.
In this Easter season, this is an incredible testimony of hope and heroism. It is a powerful evocation of the Hebrews hall of faith: “Abraham believed that God could bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead in a figurative sense…
“Through faith they conquered kingdoms, did what God approved, and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, and escaped death. They found strength when they were weak. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead.
Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life. Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison. Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground.”
Indeed one of our heroes of faith from northeast Nigeria who attended the Abuja Premier of Imela – Beauty from the ashes of terror, had lived in caves for a year with 40 other Christians. Seven died of hunger. He told us the others survived from water in a rock…His family gave him up for dead too but he returned alive a year later.
This should be an inspiration to Leah’s relatives, the Chibok girls’ families and many others on the power of the resurrection.
Just today we received reports that Boko Haram attacked the hometown of Leah in Adamawa State killing over half a dozen villagers and abducting several females. Despite the abject failure of government, God still rules in the affairs of men and brings joy to the widow and orphan.