My Wife Died Calling Daughters Name In Boko Haram Captivity Father Of Abducted Chibok Girl Reveals

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In this interview with VICTORIA EDEME, a Nigerian cleric, Pastor Enoch Mark discusses the profound impact of his daughter Monica’s abduction, along with others, in the Chibok community of Borno State on April 14, 2014.

Could you recall how you got to know about your daughter’s kidnap 10 years ago?

My name is Pastor Enoch Mark. I live in Abuja presently, but I’m from Adamawa State. I have six children. Monica Mark is my second child. When she was kidnapped on April 14, 2014, she was 18 years old. I was in Chibok then. I was a pastor in the Church of the Brethren in the area. I was transferred from Michika, Adamawa State to Chibok in Borno State. I had been there for just some months so I didn’t even know the town too well. My daughter attended the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok. On 14 April 2014, there was a gun attack all over the town. There were shootings everywhere and we were all running for our dear lives that night. While we ran, I didn’t go far. I just stood somewhere behind the town. Early in the morning, I came out to see the church because it looked like they set fire to my church, so I was not able to stay for a long time. I was moved to go and see what was burning. But fortunately enough, it was not the church. It was a place that was very close to my church. We also discovered that girls from the community had been taken captive by Boko Haram. I saw the car carrying some girls and I pursued it. While pursuing, I saw that one of the cars had broken down on the way, and some men were guiding it while it was being fixed. They said that if anybody came close, they would ‘finish’ the person. I was forced to come back. On the way back, I met one of the daughters of my watchmen who was among the girls that were kidnapped. She jumped from the car and escaped. As I met her on the way, I brought her back to the town.

How have you been dealing with the fact that your child is still in captivity ten years after the incident?

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I cannot explain how it had been because it was very terrible. I lost her mother, Martha, because of the trauma she went through. She died on July 10, 2020. Even because of too much thinking, I came down with a stroke. Presently, I’m suffering from stroke. When I lost my wife and I remembered that my daughter Monica was in captivity, I couldn’t hold myself. I just didn’t know when I collapsed on the ground. As I’m talking to you now, I cannot walk for a long distance.

How certain are you that your wife died from the trauma of the incident?

Since my daughter was kidnapped, my wife has been going up and down praying in so many places. They often call her from Lagos for newspaper and radio interviews, and she always goes. There are even pictures of her in the newspapers when she was crying. She cried while she was being interviewed. She wasn’t able to eat. Whenever we remembered to pray for Monica, she would shed tears. She died while calling the name of Monica.

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How did your other children react to Monica’s kidnap?

I cannot explain it, because when we discovered that our daughter was kidnapped, the children, the mother, and the relatives were not at ease. We all felt the pain, and we can’t explain how badly we feel.

Can you share a bit about your daughter? What was she like before the abduction?

Her mother was so worried about her because Monica never allowed her to do any work. Her mother did not touch anything in the house when Monica was still with us. Monica would clean our house, cook for us, and do everything for us. When Monica was taken by Boko Haram, it took us one year to know what to do. One year later, we didn’t know what to do. We do not even know how to sit down together and pray again. When we think of Monica, we know that, indeed, we miss something of value in our lives. Monica is a daughter who respects us.

How have you been able to cope with the uncertainty of what happened to her these past 10 years?

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If you hear my voice, you can hear that it is shaky. I cannot talk straightforwardly because of the stroke. I can hardly breathe now and that’s why my speech ceases sometimes, when I talk. What I feel is very terrible and painful. That’s how I’ve been living with a stroke, especially since I lost my wife.

It was reported that some of the Christian girls who were kidnapped in Chibok were forced to convert to Islam. How did you feel when you heard that?

I felt very bad. I was not happy when I learned that. I was even praying that if they were forced to change to a different religion, let God take the life of my Monica instead. Let her not deny Jesus. Instead of denying Jesus, let God take her life. I was praying that she would never deny Jesus. I was praying that she would die with her faith in Jesus. If they can kill her because she refused to change her religion, and she died with her faith, I will be grateful.

How has the government’s response to the kidnapping affected you and other families?

There is nothing the government has done about it. When I was at Chibok, I was the chairman and spokesman for the parents of the kidnapped Chibok girls. When they saw me coming to Abuja and going back to Chibok, some people tried to kill me. So I ran and left Chibok for my dear life. That’s why I’m in Abuja now with the rest of my children.

How do you know that people wanted to kill you?

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My members – about three different groups – came to me and asked me to leave the town. They told me about the plans they had heard. And truly, I also experienced it. A man called me, as the chairman of the parents of Chibok missing girls, to call the parents. I asked him why and he started insulting me. From our discussion, his speech revealed that he was totally against me.

Have you faced any attacks since you came to Abuja?

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No. When I came to Abuja, I didn’t tell anybody or announce where I was staying. I’m just in hiding.

How were you able to organise other parents as the chairman of the association?

After three days of our daughters’ abduction, our women were just crying all over the place. As a pastor, I was the one who called them to advise them about forming a group. I told them that we should form a committee so that when we report to the government, action could be taken.

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So when I just called the people and we formed that committee, the people said that I would be the chairman because they didn’t know what to do. I continued to lead the group until I saw that people wanted to pollute the group. Some of them were just looking out for their interest and where they would gain from the government. And as a pastor, I was not interested in that, so I just left the chairmanship. I said let them get somebody who will lead them.

What did you mean when you said some people were trying to pollute the group?

They were just looking after their daily bread. Those who wanted to pollute our society were the people whose daughters were not kidnapped, but relatives of the affected parents. Some of the parents could not speak any language apart from their language. So they sent their relatives to represent them. Those people wanted to pollute the group, so I left them. They were trying to be there for their selfish gain.

How did you find out about their intentions?

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I found out through their actions. They asked that we report to the government so that they (the government) might probably give us something. I just left them silently. There was a time when Boko Haram captured Chibok completely. They drove the people out of Chibok for five days. That was when I left Chibok and I never returned. I didn’t tell anybody that I was leaving. But everybody left the town for about five days when Boko Haram came and captured Chibok in 2014. Boko Haram drove out everybody in Chibok and some people were killed.

Have you had any contact or received any information about your daughter since she was taken?

No. I’ve never had any information. What I keep hearing is based on what people have said. Some people were saying that some of the Chibok girls who returned said that they were together with my daughter and she is still alive. That was the last word I heard about it.

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When did you hear that news?

I heard this last year when some of the Chibok girls were rescued. As you know, Boko Haram captured over 200 girls. And now, most of them have returned. Those who are yet to return are about 85 in number. So it remains 85 now left that have not returned and are still in the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists. 85 girls are still missing.

Have you heard anything about your daughter this year?

No, I haven’t heard anything.

Aside from the information that your daughter was still with her captors, did you get any additional details?

Some of the girls were married off to the Boko Haram men. Some have given birth already or something like that. So there is no added information about her concerning that. It’s just that I was only told that she was still alive.

Having heard that your daughter was still alive, how did that make you feel?

I’m just hoping that God brings her back.

Do you have any plans for her when hopefully she eventually returns?

I can’t say that until she comes. When she comes, I’ll know what decision to make about her future. I presently don’t know how it will be because if she were here with me, I’d have been able to determine and talk about that. But now she is not around, I don’t know how it will be till she comes.

What are your thoughts on the government’s response to the kidnappings in the country?

The Bible has told us all Christians who read their Bibles and know what Matthew 24, verse 1 to the end says. This is what is happening. Jesus is about to come. Our government is just very loose. They don’t care about shedding blood or whatever might happen to our children. I am calling upon the government to let them do all the best they can. We know the Lord will never neglect us. The Lord will never reject us. Well, what is happening presently is the fulfillment of the scripture. What the Lord has said, it must happen. Let Christians be faithful, and be strong in the Lord. As the Lord told us in Matthew 24, at the end of the world, when Jesus is about to come, there will be famine, and there will be war in every country. There will be all sorts of difficulties in the country. And now, it’s all over the nation. Let us be mindful as Christians concerned. Let us be close to our Bible. Let us read the Bible, understand it, and obey it.

How do you commemorate or remember your daughter on significant dates, such as her birthday or the anniversary of her abduction?

Yes, I do pray for myself. I learned that in Chibok. The Muslims and Christians gathered and prayed in the Government Girls Secondary School on April 14 last week, but I was not informed. But I do pray concerning that daily. On the very day of the kidnap, I hold a special prayer and fasting. I prayed for myself. I prayed that the Lord strengthen some of the parents and let God stop kidnappings in Nigeria.

What message would you like to share with people around the world on the ongoing struggles faced by families like yours?

What I want the people to understand is that our government has sold us to our enemies. All that is happening is in the hands of the government. (General Sani) Abacha used to say that when there is a problem in the country and it exceeds 24 hours, the government is interested in the case. Our military men do go out to assist some countries and they will be free. But why is that not possible in Nigeria? Does it mean the Boko Haram are stronger than our army? Boko Haram is not stronger than our army. Some time ago, some people were mentioned, about nine people, as Boko Haram’s financiers and supporters. What has the government done about this? The Nigerian government is weak. If they cannot protect us, I know that someday, the Lord Almighty will save this country. God will never be silent about this. It will take time. God will avenge us. Our government has sold us to our enemies and God will deliver us from the hands of our enemies.

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