Aisha Wakil, popularly called “Mummy Boko Haram,” was recently declared wanted by the Nigerian Army alongside Ahmed Bolori and journalist, Ahmad Salkida.
The trio were invited by the military for their alleged link with Boko Haram after the terrorist sect released a proof of life video of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. A barrister by training, Aisha Wakil’s identity has generally remained unknown.
According to Vanguard, Wakil was born into an Igbo Christian family but converted to Islam during her time at the University of Maiduguri where she studied law.
She got married to Justice Wakil Gana who presently with the Borno State High Court and settled in Maiduguri shortly after her university education. Before this time, Wakil was well known to have close ties with Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the sect, whose killing led to the radical transformation of the group.
Aisha Wakil who has not denied links with the terrorist sect is known to be a staff of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and was during the Goodluck Jonathan administration an important liaison that was used to make contacts with the Boko Haram.
Aisha Wakil and her husband were among prominent northerners nominated to negotiate with the Boko Haram when the group announced their intention to negotiate with the federal government.
Calling the sect members her “children,” Wakil said she knew most of the terrorist members while they were children.
“That was how I got to know most of them,” she said.
“Then they were not Boko Haram and Jama’atu ah-lil Sunnah members. It is surprising how these children turned out to be what they are now.
I keep on saying there is certainly no smoke without fire. Something must have triggered those innocent-looking children to grow up behaving the way they are behaving now.
“You needed to see them growing up. Sometimes when I start talking about them, I shed tears. Those children prayed, and still pray a lot. I have a mosque in the house, and they would always go in and pray.
“Later on, they would go out in the morning and return in the evening and during the fasting period, they would not return until around 11 or 12 midnight. They also started attending Muhammad Yusuf’s lectures to listen to his preaching.
“I didn’t observe anything strange about the teaching. Soon, the children began to be conscious of themselves.
“It was then that the rumour started that they were planning a war. When I heard of it, I went straight to Muhammad Yusuf because I had been very close to him.
“When I realized that Muhammad Yusuf was frequently being arrested, detained and released, I went to Baba Fugu and asked him why his son-in-law was always being detained?
“But I learnt he was always preaching things the government didn’t like and insulting them. At the peak of the crisis when few dared to come out, Aisha was able to mobilise some Borno women to come out to protest against the situation.
“My sons, I have been begging you since in silence to come out and state your grievances and stop destroying your homeland. Please come out and state your grievances and stop these killings.
“I started the dialogue process since 2009, even before the major crisis erupted because I knew their slain spiritual leader, Muhammad Yusuf. His father-in-law, late Alhaji Baba Fugu Mohammed, was my spiritual father in Islam, and I used to visit his home.
“In fact, Mohammed Yusuf almost married my younger sister Amina, but Almighty Allah did not make it possible.
“So that was how I got closer to the duo. It went even to the extent that I was cooking food and taking it to the house of late Alhaji Fugu, to the pupils of the Qur’anic school, (almajari). “And because I am from the southern part of the country, I normally prepared southern dishes, which Yusuf had always come to eat.
“In fact, he liked my egusi soup very much, and we became very close when his father-in-law told him that I was the one who cooked the food. So anytime we met, he expressed delight and prayed that Almighty Allah would reward me, for he was eating from my pot and that was how I established a strong relationship with him,” she said.