Boko Haram Terrorists Know And Fear Me – Aisha Bakari Gombi

As a young girl growing up in her village in Adamawa State near the Sambisa forest, the Boko Haram enclave, she would go hunting for guinea fowls, antelopes and baboons with her grandfather. In the course of time, she became proficient as it is said that practice makes perfect.
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Aisha Bakari Gombi, Queen Hunter and nemesis of Boko Haram fighters.

The North-Eastern region of Nigeria, which for about 11 years has been the scene of war between the forces of evil (the terrorists of Boko Haram) and good (the security agencies and the poor masses) has no doubt seen heroes who stood to challenge insurgents.

A queen by all standards, called Sarauniya (Queen) Amina Bakari Gombi, a wife, mother, hunter, fighter, and tailor, lives in the Adamawa state ravaged by Boko Haram, considered the third most dangerous terrorist group on earth after Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of West Africa Provinces.

She joined the folklore of the locals because of her exploits as a warrior, much like the legendary Queen Amina of Zazzau, the Hausa warrior queen who ruled in the mid-16th century.

Perhaps one can honestly say that Queen Amina, Queen Hunter and the nemesis of the Boko Haram warriors, came alive in Aisha Gombi.

Aisha stood to be counted at a time when many, including men, fled away from terrorists who raided towns, maimed, killed, raped, and abducted men, women, and children, and razed villages.

She decided to use her hunting skills, the gift God gave her, to protect her people, to rescue the captured, particularly women and children, from the enclaves of Boko Haram. Aisha is among the many Nigerian Army hunters enlisted to track and catch Boko Haram fighters.

The stunning, courageous, bold, and dauntless Aisha speaks in an interaction session with Nigerian Newspaper,  Vanguard revealed issues on several topics, including why she joined the war against Boko Haram and amnesty for the insurgents, noting that her driving force is liberation for her citizens and for Nigerians in general.

Read through the Excerpts from the interview:

Venturing into a male-dominated profession

According to the soft-spoken Queen Hunter, a sobriquet she got from appreciative hunters and locals whose lives and livelihoods she has helped to save, becoming a hunter, a profession seen as an exclusive preserve of men, was a calling. She was born into a family of hunters and she inherited the profession from her father who inherited it from his own father.

As a young girl growing up in her village in Adamawa State near the Sambisa forest, the Boko Haram enclave, she would go hunting for guinea fowls, antelopes and baboons with her grandfather. In the course of time, she became proficient as it is said that practice makes perfect.

Joining the fight against insurgency

Speaking on why she joined the fight against the insurgents, Aisha said she saw the way the terrorists were killing innocent and defenseless people, destroying property, abducting people, and razing whole villages. The tigress in her couldn’t keep calm when her village came under attack; so when others were running away, she decided to stay back and fight. There was no way she could watch the terrorists take over her beloved hometown without a fight. She was determined to give the terrorists a run for their money. Perhaps, she, like Queen Esther in the Bible, Aisha was prepared by her creator for a time like this. People couldn’t believe it.

They felt she was out of her mind, trying to attempt the impossible.  They must have given her the popular Hausa adage: Karambani akwiya, gai da kura which means (it was pure meddlesomeness on the part of the goat to think she could greet the hyena without disaster. i.e. Don’t attempt the impossible.) But Aisha was ready to face the terrorists.

Preparedness meets opportunity

 Then the opportunity came for her to officially join the fight. She did not hesitate to grab it with both hands. In her case, it was an opportunity meeting with preparedness. The Nigerian military engaged in this unconventional war with Boko Haram knew that to win the war, intelligence-gathering was non-negotiable and who can better give the needed information than the locals especially hunters and vigilantes who know the nooks and crannies of the area!

She volunteered to use her talent to help save her people and country from terrorists. Aisha was one of the few women recruited by the Nigerian military as volunteers to fight Boko Haram on an ad hoc basis. Even youths were not left out as the military formed an arm of the Joint Task Force, JTF, named Civilian JTF made up of civilians who went to war to protect their communities. Aisha said that the hunters know the terrorists’ hideouts in the forest better than the soldiers. Today, Aisha finds fulfilment in battling the terrorists and freeing their captives, mostly women and children.

Passion, women, and terrorists

Just as Boko Haram terrorists are said to be driven by ideology and not motivated by money or material gains, Aisha is not motivated by money but love for her people and country. She didn’t bat an eyelid when she had to sell her sewing machine just to raise money to purchase a more powerful rifle.

A report by ABC in 2016 had said that ISIS terrorists feared the female members of the Zeravani unit, a branch of the Kurdish Peshmerga (Black Tigers) so much that they are referred to as ISIS’ nightmare. It is said that ISIS fighters fear them because it is a taboo for them to be killed by women so they steer clear of the female fighters. Aisha boldly says that Boko Haram terrorists know her and fear her. She is in fact, a terror to the terrorists.

Many women becoming hunters

Aisha’s attitude and her love for hunting endeared her to many women who were influenced to become hunters so today, Adamawa State boasts of almost 100 female hunters. She said she enjoys the support, encouragement and cooperation of the locals, particularly the women.

Security, everyone’s business

Aisha believes that the security of lives and property should not be left in the hands of government and security agencies alone but should involve everyone. She noted that women have a big role to play to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, adding that Nigeria will not develop as long as there is no peace in the land.

Challenges

She said the major challenge the hunters face is convincing the military to allow them to go on rescue missions. Perhaps, the military is afraid for their lives. Another challenge is funds as hunters sometimes have to raise the money for ammunition and to hire and fuel vehicles. Despite all these, Aisha said that any time she goes to the bush, she feels very happy.

Juggling work with home

On how she combines her duties as a wife, mother, commander, tailor, hunter, and warrior, Aisha said she has no problem juggling her responsibilities at home and outside the home. She said she handles her domestic affairs in the way an any good wife would handle her domestic affairs and also handles her work as a warrior very well. Above all, her husband has been very supportive and is in fact, very proud of her. He believes that her success is his success.

Regrets

On whether she has ever regretted joining this war which entails leading the hunters under her command deep into the forest in search of the terrorists and their captives, she said never! She enjoys fighting for her people and bringing smiles to their faces. She, however, appeals to the Federal Government to equip the military and the volunteers with more sophisticated weapons.

She said she and her team sometimes spend so many days in the forest searching for terrorist hideouts and when they capture the terrorists, they force them to lead them to where the victims are kept, then the terrorists are handed over to the military while they rescue the victims.

Her team has rescued a huge number of captives and captured many Boko Haram fighters. Multi-talented Aisha does not only hunt for animals and terrorists, she is also a tailor. She said tailoring has helped her to meet some of her financial needs. She advised women to ensure they don’t just sit at home and wait for the man to provide all their needs.

Amnesty

On amnesty to repentant Boko Haram fighters by the Federal Government, Aisha said if they are truly repentant, then it’s good but if the repentance is not genuine, then it’s bad. She said that when they repent, they are kept in a place where they are closely monitored and their habits reviewed before they are released into society so it’s between the terrorists and government.

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