“I watched helplessly as Boko Haram seized my dear Jennifer Ukambong” – Colleague

4 min read
Ukambong

Jos, Nigeria: News has made rounds about the kidnap of a beautiful aid worker from Plateau State, by Boko Haram on the 21st anniversary of her father’s demise.

Miss Jennifer Ukambong Samuel, 26, has been working with Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) for over a year. She is a midwife stationed at the Monguno, Borno base of the international nongovernmental organization.

She had disengaged once but had her contract renewed sometimes 2019. Deadly as the road to Monguno is, ALIMA does not provide security cover or air travels to and from its Northeastern headquarters.

This however does not imply that the NGO is ignorant of the threats posed by Boko Haram in that region. Its contract terms with Jennifer clearly contemplate folding up without staff compensation in the face of security threats. The contract form also conspicuously omit occupational hazards and risk insurance.

Nevertheless, Jenny was determined to bring to bare her professional experience in the rescue of communities impoverished by disaster and victims of insurgency. Though faced with deadly attacks by herdsmen back at home, the Vom College of Nursing and Midwifery graduate chose to remain in Borno working with the medical relief organization.

Ukambong Jennifer Samuel
Ukambong Jennifer

She has never directly faced any threat in the cause of her job except a few cases of Boko Haram invasion which reportedly led to the looting of ALIMA’s pharmacy in the past. A staff was also said to have also been abducted once but rescued by Military Task Force in 24hrs. ALIMA officials have however denied the incident, just as they have denied the Jennifer’s case, despite secretly contacting and inviting her family for talks in Abuja.

Broken vehicle by roadside

The incident took place at about 8am, local time on Sunday 22nd December, 2019, when Jennifer and two of her colleagues set out to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. Their mission was unknown but their ID cards were in their possession.

They moved alongside a clergyman, a Police officer (in mufti) and a few other travelers on a commercial vehicle. Happily conversing about their plans for Christmas and their careers, they came across a land cruiser vehicle parked by the road side with its bonnet opened.

“It was a rough terrain and that spot in particular had a lot of potholes,” said an eyewitness.

It must have looked like a broken vehicle. Thus, the unsuspecting victims innocently navigated and drove pass it but could not move up to 10meters further.

“Our car just pulled out of a pothole and before it regained balance, we saw gunmen jumping out from the woods. They pointed their guns at us and motioned for us to park,” the eyewitness narrated.

Ukambong’s ID now with the terrorists

Jennifer’s wallet which contained her ID cards was instantly thrown under a car seat. This was to avoid her being identified as an aid worker, given the growing interests of the insurgents on aid workers and security operatives: but it was too late.

Eyewitness: “They asked us to step out and hand them our ID Cards. I hid mine in my boxers and later in my shoe. They searched us and searched the car. When they found her ID card, they isolated her as they did to others and took her to a nearby camp where other travelers had been captured and kept.

“They stopped more vehicles as they did before us and later brought out four men from the hostages’ camp. They laid them before us and shot them dead. They asked those of us without ID cards and our Muslim fellows who included Muslims aid workers to return to our vehicles and leave.

“I wept as I helplessly watched my dear colleague and friend sitting with a gun to her head, while leaving. I insisted on returning for her after filing a Police report at Monguno Division but by the time I got there, they were gone.”

No information

The four killed were identified as Joshua, Dominic, a Deeper Life Bible Church pastor, and fiance to Miss Asabe, another abducted ALIMA staff.

Our source only knew Jennifer among the abductees but later found out about Asabe who is an indigene of Borno.

Others later confirmed to have been kidnapped during the ambush are Miss Hannatu Sabastin Ishaya, in-law to a Pastor and friend to an editor of a global Christian persecution reporting site.

Since the kidnap, no information has been released as to their whereabouts or the demands of the abductors but the campaigns for their rescue have dominated local media.

The insurgents executed 11 earlier hostages three days later, after showing them in a video appealing for intervention hours before the Sunday abduction.

Officials have vowed to work out their release but there growing fears that a delay might lead to them facing similar fate as their previously executed fellows.

Boko Haram has executed several aid workers this year, with many other facing daily threats. The fear for Jennifer is that she might be retained as a camp health manager which could expose her to the risk of being caught in a crossfire when forced to care for wounded terrorists on the battlefield.

Be that as it may, her kidnap is yet another test of the Nigerian government’s strength to fight terrorism and the divisive campaigns of the insurgents. Already, the country is reputed as a country of religious bias.

President Muhammadu Buhari, reacting to the Christmas day execution of the eleven Christian hostages declared that no Islamist terror group was representing the general aspirations of Muslims and that the country was poised to promote religious freedom.

The rescue of Jennifer and her fellow abductees who were selected based on their religions, just as the eleven executed, will prove the claims of the President.

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