Boko Haram: Chibok Girls May Have Been Sold Into Slavery | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Boko Haram: Chibok Girls May Have Been Sold Into Slavery

Posted: May 6, 2015 at 2:23 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Faced With Food, Fuel Shortage, Snsurgents Now In Disarray

By Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos

There are strong indications on Wednesday that some of the abducted Chibok Secondary School girls, might have been sold into slavery by the Boko Haram insurgents.

Reuters, quoting military and Sambisa forest sources, in a report on Wednesday May 6, 2015, revealed that some of the girls had also been married to the terrorists.

The report, claimed that the Boko Haram insurgents sold the women for about to N2,000 (about $10) each.

Reuters, in its report, said it interviewed several women released from captivity, but that none of them claimed to have seen any of the Chibok girls during their stay in Sambisa forest.

One of the women, Reuters spoke to, a 45-year-old mother of two, Aisha Abbas, who was taken from Dikwa in April, said they travelled with the Boko Haram fighters from a camp in Sambisa where they were held to source food.

Abbas was quoted as saying: “They said the Chibok girls were married off this year.

“Some sold to slavery, then others (militants) each married two or four of the girls.”

The women also said the Boko Haram terrorists frequently threatened to sell them or bring them to their elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, who they said lives “deep in the forest.”

The agency stated that following shortage of weapons and fuel, the Boko Haram forces were reportedly disintegrating, even as palpable tension had engulfed its foot soldiers and leaders.

According to the Reuters report, the insurgents now face severe shortages following the advancement of Nigerian troops, which it stressed, had already rescued hundreds of women and girls from the terrorist captivity.

The group abducted an estimated 2,000 women and girls last year as it sought to carve out an Islamic state in the North East of Africa’s biggest economy.

Its six-year-old insurgency had killed thousands and forced 1.5 million people from their homes and the group caused a global outcry when it abducted over 200 school girls from the town of Chibok.

Quoting military sources, Reuters stated that the Army had freed nearly 700 in the past week as it advanced on Boko Haram’s last stronghold in the vast Sambisa forest.

It said that the Boko Haram terrorists had begun to complain to their captives about lacking guns and ammunition last month, two of the women said, and many were reduced to carrying sticks, while some of their vehicles were either broken down or lacked gasoline.

Abbas, who was taken from Dikwa in April, said the fighters all had guns at first, but recently, only some carried them.

Even the wife of their captors’ leader, Adam Bitri, Reuters quoted the women as having openly criticised him and subsequently fled, with one of the women describing Bitri as short and fat with a beard.

Of 275 freed captives brought to a government-run camp for internally displaced people in the Malkohi hamlet on the outskirts of Yola, the capital of Adamawa State capital, only 61 were over 18, and many small children hobbled around visibly malnourished.

The women said they were kept inside, occasionally brought food and sometimes beaten severely.

The children were left to run around or do errands for Boko Haram, while those of the fighters were trained to shoot guns.

“One evening in April, Boko Haram followers stood before us and said ‘Our leaders don’t want to give us enough fuel and guns and now the soldiers are encroaching on us in Sambisa. We will leave you,” one of the women, 18-year-old Binta Ibrahim from northern Adamawa State, said.

“They threatened us, but after they went, we were happy and prayed the soldiers would come and save us,” she added.

The women said once the militants spotted two helicopters circling at noon on the day of their rescue, they began trying to sell the women for up to N2, 000 (about $10) each.

Towards evening, as the Army approached, the captives refused to flee with Boko Haram fighters, who began stoning them, but then ran away.

“We heard bullets flying around … We lay on the floor. Some of the women were crushed (by Army vehicles) and others wounded by bullets.

“Eighteen were killed. We counted them, they included infants,” Salamatu Mohamed from the Damboa area in Borno said.

The Defence Ministry was not immediately available for comments when contacted by Reuters.

Mohamed said she gave birth while in captivity and had trouble feeding her newborn, as there was not enough food.

Boko Haram seemed almost unstoppable and fast becoming a regional threat after it gained control of some areas last year and increased cross-border attacks on Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Although Nigeria Military had claimed to have killed the acclaimed sect leader Shekau several times, Defence spokesman, Chris Olukolade, told Reuters the man was not a priority target.

Hanatu Musa, a 22-year-old mother kidnapped in June from Gwoza in Borno State, quoted the fighters as saying their leader had deceived them into fighting and killing in the name of religion.

While the Nigerian Army, which launched its counter-attack in January, is confident it has the group cornered in the Sambisa nature reserve, a final push to clear them from the area has, however, been curtailed by landmines.