A Nigerian Catholic girl who was forced to watch as his father was beheaded, after which she was captured and tortured for days has forgiven his tormentors, saying that she prays for the militants’ redemption.
In a Tuesday, November 15 report by the Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Janada Marcus narrates her family’s experience at the hands of the Boko Haram militants who she says did “the unthinkable” to them.
“They did the unthinkable to us,” Janada says in the report, and explains, “They pointed a machete at my father and told him they would set us free if he had sex with me.”
“It’s hard to forgive and forget, and with all that I have gone through at the hands of Boko Haram I can’t even believe that I am the one saying this, but I have forgiven them in my heart, and I pray for the redemption of their souls,” she says.
ACN reports that Janada and her family had already escaped two attacks by Boko Haram unscathed, once abandoning their home in Baga Local Government Area in Nigeria’s Lake Chad region and a second time fleeing their new home in Askira Uba, in Southern Borno State, where their house was burned down, and a number of relatives were killed by the Islamists.
“Eventually they made their way to Maiduguri, but the worst was yet to come,” the charity foundation reports, narrating the torture that the 22-year-old and her family went through at the hands of the Boko Haram militants.
Janada narrated to ACN that on settling in Maiduguri, her father obtained a piece of land and started farming to fend for the family.
“We were happy that all the nightmares we had experienced before had finally come to an end. Then came 20 October 2018, the day that took away the sunshine in our lives. We were at the farm, working happily, and singing some Catholic songs to raise our spirits, when suddenly we were surrounded by Boko Haram,” Janada says.
She adds, “When I saw them (Boko Haram militants), many thoughts ran through my mind: should I run away? If I do, what about my parents? What if they caught us even before we start running? Should I scream for help? Would anyone come to our rescue? I decided to remain calm and let God perform a miracle. But they did the unthinkable to us.”
She narrates that her family was crushed when the militants forced her father to sleep with her, adding that her father chose to die instead.
“I could not hold back my tears! I was shaking, but I could do nothing! My mother could not utter a word due to the state of shock she was in. With a machete pointed at my father’s forehead, he looked at my mother and at me, but I avoided eye contact because I was ashamed to look him in the face, ashamed of what the men had suggested – it was an abomination!” the Nigerian girl says.
She continues, “My father put his head down in submission to be killed and answered: ‘I cannot sleep with my own flesh and blood, my own daughter, I would rather die than commit this abomination.’… On hearing this, one of the men took out a machete and cut off my father’s head, right in front of us. The pain that I felt at that moment was unbearable.”
“My father’s blood was splattered all over the ground. Could you imagine the torture, the pain that I was going through at that moment? I pleaded with God to take my life; I was already a living corpse, but He turned a deaf ear! I found extraordinary courage, rushed, and took my head band to tie the head of my father to stop the blood from gushing out,” Janada says.
The cruel killing of her father was not, however, the end of her tribulations. She would be captured by another set of militants and undergo untold of torture in the bushes at the hands of the militants.
“On 9 November 2020, I was on the way to a government office when I was again surprised by Boko Haram. This time they captured me. They took me to the bush and tortured me severely, emotionally, physically and mentally for six days. I suffered a lot of terrible and wicked experiences – beyond explanation – that made those six days seem like six years,” she says.
“On 15 November 2020, I was released. I came back and spent a few days with my mother,” Janada further says, adding that it was her mother who enrolled her at the Trauma Center, a Catholic facility of the Diocese of Maiduguri where she embarked on a healing journey.
At the facility, Janada was allowed to undergo tests to rule out possibilities of infections and taken through a series of counseling sessions.
She also underwent six months of healing, prayers and counseling, Janada says, and adds, “Now I am back on my feet. At first, I found it almost impossible to let go of my past, but after spending those months at the Trauma Center, I was able to let go. After my healing process, I enrolled in college. I am very happy, and I will give it my all to finish my degree and become someone great in society.”
Highlighting ways in which she has benefitted at the Catholic trauma healing facility, Janada says, “I acquired new skills that have made me so proud of myself. I have learned to knit beautiful baby caps, socks, trousers, and cardigans which will help me earn some cash. Emotionally, I have learned to let go of my past; I have learned the art of healing by letting go of my pain. My faith has strengthened.”
She admits that her first days at the center were not easy, and that she found herself doubting the power of God.“At first my experience drew me away from God. It was difficult to trust and come back to Him. Ironically, in the end my bitter experience has brought me closer to God, but at one point I felt like giving up. I felt that being a Christian was a total waste of time. Where was God when they butchered my father? Where was God when I was going through torture, agony, hardship? Where was God when I went to bed on an empty stomach?” Janada says and poses.
She adds in the ACN November 15 report, “After my healing process, I got answers to all my questions. I have learned that God is still God. Amidst all that I have gone through, I will still trust Him, and I will serve Him for the rest of my life.”