Kano – A Nigerian mother of three has described how she escaped from Boko Haram Islamists after being abducted, drugged and told she was going to become a suicide bomber.
Khadija Ibrahim, 30, said she was snatched by two men from a bus station in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Friday, as she travelled to see her doctor for medical treatment.
Her account backs up theories that female suicide bombers used by Boko Haram are not willing participants. The group has deployed the tactic against civilian “soft” targets since mid-2014.
“They offered me a lift, which I readily accepted because I wanted to be at the hospital on time. They drugged me by placing something on my nose and I lost consciousness,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“I just woke up to realise I had been stripped and strapped with a suicide vest and heard one of my captors whispering to me that I was going to do God’s work.”
Ibrahim, who has three children, said the kidnappers told her she was being taken to attack the Kantin Kwari textile market in the northern city of Kano.
But she said she came round from the effects of the drugs and feigned unconsciousness until she saw her chance to escape when the car overheated twice on the way and was forced to stop.
Ibrahim said she managed to unfasten the bomb vest during the second breakdown, which happened after they reached Kano late on Friday.
“While the driver went to look for water the other man went out to the opened bonnet to examine the engine, which gave me an opportunity to ran out of the vehicle,” she said.
Another young woman who was in the car with her may also have been drugged, she suggested, as she looked “dumb and unaware of what was happening around her”.
It is not known what happened to her.
Ibrahim said she was picked up by a man in the Hotoro neighbourhood of Kano late on Friday, who took her to the police.
They then handed her to the state governor, Umar Ganduje.
“If this woman had not regained consciousness the story would have been different by now,” he told reporters.
Boko Haram has attacked the Kantin Kwari market before. In December 2014, two young female suicide bombers killed four people, while a third refused to detonate her explosives and was arrested.
In July 2014 there was a spate of suicide bomb attacks by young women in Kano, which led the state government to cancel celebrations to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.