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Repentant female Boko Haram insurgents lament lack of suitors, cry for husbands

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As more Boko Haram insurgents who surrendered their arms and ammunition to the government and renounced acts of terrorism and banditry continue to be reintegrated into the life of normalcy, there are big concerns that the females among them are increasingly finding it difficult to get male spouses.

According to investigation, more findings indicated that even as the repentant terrorists are settled into their various home communities, the females among them have complained that since their return, it has been difficult for them to marry as the law-abiding men in the society avoid them like a plague.

Official records put the total number of surrendered insurgents and their families at 162,000, but no such records show the number of spinsters, divorcees, or widows among them.

Some of the leaders of the communities have complained that their men are scared of venturing into any form of romance with the surrendered female insurgents despite the fact that some of the ladies have been expressing their secret desire for suitors to marry or remarry them.

“These ladies desperately want to marry or remarry, but men seem scared of them, as no suitors approach them with such proposal,” a ward head at Old Maiduguri, Modu Grema Wakil said.

“I have not compiled the number of such ladies, but they send messages to us as community leaders over the matter,” he said.

Wakil continued: “Our fear is that if these women and girls do not get the men to marry, they may be tempted to renege on their repentance vow from terror activities and return to the bush.

“But when they get suitors and marry or remarry in the law-abiding society, other girls and women still in the bush could be encouraged to surrender and come back home.”

Asked if the problem was a matter of societal stigma, the community leader assured: “No. I don’t think so because the societal stigma against them is waning.”

He stressed, “but we are severely pained by the fact that suitors are scared of marrying them, because most people still don’t believe they have genuinely repented, and, therefore, they may slaughter their husbands and flee back to the bush.”

Wakil called on the Borno State government to create a database of such repenting female insurgents with a view to persuading suitors to approach them and organising marriages for them.

Further expressing his fears, he maintained: “The inability to marry or remarry at home may tempt them to renege on their repentance.”

Responding, the Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Zuwaira Gambo, said, “It is a welcome development that they are expressing their desire to marry or remarry, because it will help to stabilise them in the law-abiding society.”

She said the state government would work with the Maiduguri-based NGO, Allamin Foundation, to create the required database for that purpose.

“The Foundation has forwarded to us the Charter of Demands of the various victims of the insurgency, including such women and girls,” Gambo stated, pointing out further, “We are still expecting a report from the Foundation on such demands to enable us do the needful for every set of victims.”

Efforts to speak with some of the ladies did not yield fruit as it was difficult to get them to speak  for fear of being further stigmatised especially in a setting as the north.

Moreover, many of them are said to have melted into the population, but preferring to raise their concerns to their various community leaders through the third party.

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