As Muna town heaved a sigh of relief, tragedy struck again as the three teenage girls, who had successfully snuck into town, detonated their explosives. The first girl struck around 11:30 pm, Thursday, February 17, at Muna motor park while the other attack occurred in Muna Dalti around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 18.
The Muna bombers apparently succeeded where insurgent mates, Zainab and Amina, failed. Amina, 18, was intercepted while her co-bomber, 15-year-old Zainab, was killed as she tried to ram into motorists queuing to buy fuel and detonate a bomb at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) mega station along Damboa road in Maiduguri, on Tuesday, February 7.
The girls were intercepted by men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps(NSCDC), soon after they arrived in Maiduguri on orders from Boko Haram.
My story, by bomber
As she recounted her experience, Amina’s eyes glistened with hope and gratification. She spoke in a crisp, clear tenor, caressing the strands of a severed ribbon from her veil. She fingered the thread and slipped it through her lips with gratifying immersion, all the piteous miseries of her life seemingly summoned in her wiry hands.
Her face, hard and weary from strife, provided a soiled, pale background to her gaunt eyes. Her eyes, twitching open and close in rhythm with the groove where her lips met with the frayed strands seemed in search of something; comfort perhaps.
Occasionally, she removed the threads from her mouth to answer questions, the words leaping from her lips as if she meant to exhale in one breath, the agony interred in her buried narratives. With submissive firmness, she revealed that she and Zainab were on a mission from Gobarawa, a Boko Haram enclave along Borno’s Alagarno axis, to kill people. She said she was abducted by the terrorists in 2015 in Madagali, Adamawa. From there, she was taken to Sambisa where she was held hostage for a while before being transferred to Gobarawa.
Life in Gobarawa
“My younger brother and sisters Umar, Fatima, fauziya, Abbas, Maryam and Faiza, were all held hostage and married off to Boko Haram men in Gambarawa. But my father and mother were all killed when they tried to escape with us from the camp where we were held hostage in Gobarawa.
“All the people in Gobarawa are Boko Haram. They are many and they all had sophisticated weapons, motorcycles and vehicles which they use to operate,” said Amina. The teenager revealed that when life became too hard in Gobarawa, her captors resorted to drastic measures.
“They usually go out to snatch food from locals and bring us food. We don’t have grinders but we relied on stone to grind sorghum. We pounded sorghum with stone to make food,” she said.
In Gobarawa, Amina, like several child hostages, was married off to a member of the sect. “I am also married to a Boko Haram Commander, an Amir, who has killed more than 100 people, including his mother and father,” she said.
t took Amina and Zainab three days to get to Maiduguri, travelling on a motorcycle. She said: “We were directed by the sect members to detonate our explosives any where we saw any form of gathering…They said if we press the button, the bomb would explode and we will automatically go to heaven. I was scared, so, I told them that I could not detonate any explosive. But Zainab said she would do it. So, they said if Zainab detonated her own, it would serve the purpose.”
However, things didn’t go according to plan in Maiduguri. At 6.45 a.m., Amina and Zainab were accosted in the city, after a bean-cake seller alerted NSCDC operatives about their suspicious moves. But while Amina balked from the mission, Zainab decided to go ahead with it. She ignored Amina’s counsel that they flee into the city and seek help.
“I demobilised my own explosive right from when we were about to sleep in a nearby town en route Maiduguri. I had only N200 with me. I told Zainab to come along with me to town instead of blowing the explosive and killing herself for the sake of nothing. I told her that with the N200 they gave us, we can go to town to meet somebody I know.”
But Zainab rejected Amina’s counsel and proceeded with the mission. Initially, she attempted to detonate it at the bean-cake seller’s roadside stall but she later decided to attack the NNPC mega station in the area because it contained a greater crowd and the promise of greater casualties.
Fortunately, the bean-cake seller noticed their suspicious moves and male accomplices and she alerted NSCDC officers in the vicinity. Promptly, the latter marched up to the girls to interrogate them. But no sooner did they accost them than their male handlers disappear. Instantly, Amina revealed that she was strapped to a bomb. The security operatives scurried backwards and cocked their rifles to shoot. In the scuffle, Amina unstrapped her bomb and tossed it away.
“I already told them that I will not detonate my bomb; that was why I threw it away and handed myself over to the security. Zainab insisted on detonating her explosive. I don’t know why. I couldn’t say whether she was in her right senses,” said Amina.
Zainab ignored the NSCDC’s sharp orders that she stood down and proceeded to detonate the bomb. This attracted a warning shot from the NSCDC to her limbs. The shot was meant to demobilise her. But even while she writhed in a blood pool from her bleeding leg, the teenager stubbornly sought to detonate the bomb. This earned her a ‘kill-shot,’ this time around, from a soldier’s rifle. It was either Zainab’s life or the lives of several innocent folk citizens.