X-raying Chibok Girls, Boko Haram Detainees Swap Deal | Independent Newspapers Limited
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X-raying Chibok Girls, Boko Haram Detainees Swap Deal

Chibok Girls
Posted: Aug 29, 2016 at 3:39 am   /   by   /   comments (2)

“We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents. This government will do all it can to rescue them alive”- President Muhammadu Buhari May 29 2015

“Anyone saying the Chibok girls will return is telling lies” – Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo February 2016
During his electioneering campaign, one of the promises made by President Muhammadu Buhari is to rescue the abducted Chibok girls if elected as President. Speaking at a Town Hall in Abuja, the then candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also accused the Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government of lacking the sincerity of purpose required to tackle the problem of insecurity in the northeast.

“As a father, I feel the pain of the victims of insurgency, kidnapping and violence. Under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil. I will give it all it takes to ensure that our girls kidnapped from Chibok are rescued and reintegrated with their families” said Buhari.

Many political analysts believe that this promise and several others made by President Buhari was largely responsible for the massive votes he secured in the Northern part of the country which contributed in no small measures in his winning the election. Others also believe that failure to rescue the girls was one of former President Jonathan’s greatest undoing as many labeled him as ‘clueless’ especially when he said he doesn’t know the whereabout of the girls.

Amina Nkeki – A Glimmer Of Hope

With the manner Jonathan administration was castigated for allegedly paying lip-service to the rescue of the girls, many Nigerians had anxiously looked forward to a reversal of fortunes as soon as the Buhari regime came on stream. That hope is fast turning into a mirage as the government is still at a loss on how to rescue those still in captivity.

More than two years after the girls were snatched from their Government Secondary School, Chibok dormitory by Boko Haram terrorist, there was a glimmer of hope when one of them, Amina Ali Nkeki was found in May. While some claimed she was rescued by the military others said she was found wandering in the forest before she was found alongside her baby by the soldiers. Whatever the case, many believe the rescue of the other girls will soon become a reality as they will likely be within the vicinity where Amina was found. Four months after Amina was found, there is still no information about the location of the girls.

Boko Haram’s Latest Video

On Monday August 14, Boko Haram released a new video showing the abducted Chibok girls and claiming that some of the girls were killed by air strikes launched by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on their locations.

The video showed a masked armed man standing in front of several girls, who, he claimed, were the over 200 girls abducted from their school hostel at Government Secondary School, Chibok, in 2014.

The man said the video was released to send a message to parents of the girls to beg the Nigerian government to release Boko Haram members in various detention centres in exchange for the girls.

He claimed that about 40 of the girls were already married out while some others had died.

One of the girls, Maida, who spoke in both Hausa and her native language, asked parents to “be patient and beg the government to release their people, so that we will also be released”.

Speaking in the video, the masked and unnamed spokesman of the group, declared:

“This is a message from the Jama.atu ahlis sunnah lidda awati wal jihad under the leadership of Abu Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Abubakar As-Shekau.

“We are sending a special message to the parents of the Chibok Girls and the Nigerian Government. We thank God for giving us the opportunity to send this message to the parents of these girls

“It pleased God to let us have these girls in our captivity for over two years now. Our first message is to the parents of the girls to let them know that their daughters are still with us, some of them.

“I also want to tell them to ask the Nigerian government to release our brethren, especially those in Maiduguri, Lagos and Abuja and other places across Nigeria. They should be released immediately.

“You all knew that we had the girls, but God never allowed you to know their location and you will never know by God’s grace. You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them, they have been with us for over two years, yet you can’t even know where they are. You have just been lying about these girls, people should know that.

“Also, for the over two years that we have been with these girls, about forty of them are married, some are dead as a result of airstrike by infidels. We will show you a video of how your own aircraft dropped a bomb that killed some of these girls. Some of the girls have suffered fractures and other forms of injuries as a result of the air strikes.

“As you can see, these are the girls (pointing at them), all we want is for you to release our brethren otherwise you will never get these girls God willing. This in short is our message to the Federal Government and the parents of the Chibok Girls.

“As long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls, that is our message. I want to specially inform our people in captivity in Lagos that they should be patient and continue with their prayers, God will take us to where no one expects and we will rescue them. All those in Lagos, Maiduguri and other southern parts of the country; keep praying, very soon, we will rescue you.”

Few days after the video was released, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement embarked on a protest move to Presidential Villa to register its displeasure over what it termed “President Buhari’s sluggishness in rescuing the girls.

The group stated this in an address jointly signed by its leaders, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, which was read during its protest march said contrary to the President’s excuse that he lacked “credible intelligence” to rescue the girls, what he actually required was the political will to take decisive action in the present circumstance.

“Mr. President must now exercise firm and dedicated leadership on rescuing our #ChibokGirls just as he would do, were the girls his daughters,” the group demanded.

“As was the case on Monday, security operatives also barred the protesters from accessing the villa, stopping them short at the Bullet Junction near the Head of Service building. “Reports from former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, after a meeting with Mr. President, suggested that the Federal Government’s position remains a ‘lack of credible intelligence. “Coming over seven months since our engagement with Mr. President on January 14, and considering the lack of feedback on rescue efforts, this strengthens the position that there has been no focused, coherent and consistent operation to rescue our #Chibokgirls.”

“Having submitted four cogent reasons, it could not be said that there is a ‘lack of credible intelligence’ during our meeting in January and three further reasons just three days ago, the discussion must shift from ‘credible intelligence’ to ‘political will’ to decide on a line of action, and act!. ‘’This is especially so because Mr. President acknowledged the level of first-person intelligence that was to be obtained from the debrief of our #Chibokgirl, Amina Ali, while receiving her in May. Mr. President: No More Delays. The Time to Decide and Act is Now,”

Chibok Community Demand President’s Resignation

Also speaking, some relatives also accused the federal government of abandoning their daughters to suffer in captivity, and have called on President Buhari to resign if he cannot rescue the girls. They also accused the president of neglecting them after repeated unfulfilled promises.

Enoch Mark, father of two of the girls, said Buhari had failed the Chibok people who voted for him in 2015 with the hope that he would ensure the return of the girls.

“Many Chibok parents voted for you because we believed that you would ensure the return of our daughters. You promised us that you were a military man and that you cannot lie. You said the war will not be over until the girls are back,” Mark said.

“Now we hear shouts of victory. And you turn around and say you do not know how to get our daughters. Former President Sani Abacha told us that no country can fight war for up to 24 hours without its government knowing about it. If the president lacks intelligence to bring back the girls let him resign.

“We have men who can do the job. There is nothing that Nigeria does not have. What is stopping the president from giving the orders?” he queried.

The mother of Dorcas Yakubu, the girl who spoke in the recent Boko Haram video, said the federal government should exchange the detained terrorists for her daughter if the government had no better option.

“Because it is obvious that no serious effort has been made to ensure the rescue of our daughters, otherwise we would have heard some good news,” she said.
Yakubu said the security operatives preventing her and the other members of the #BringBackOurGirls group from reaching the president were stopping her from fulfilling the request of her daughter.

“My daughter pleaded with me to try and see the president personally and talk to him regarding the rescue of the Chibok girls. They named her Maida. I named my daughter Dorcas, but they changed her name,” she said.

Yakubu called on the first lady, Aisha Buhari, to do her best to assist mothers like her.

FG Agrees To Swap Deal
Addressing reporters in Nairobi, Kenya, at the weekend on the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development,
President Buhari said his administration is ready to swap the girls with Boko Haram leaders in detention. He however, noted that his government would only discuss with genuine Boko Haram leaders who, he said, could reach the government through an internationally recognised non-governmental organisation.

“I have made a couple of comments on the Chibok girls and it seems to me that much of it has been politicised. What we said is that the government, which I preside over, is prepared to talk to bonafide leaders of Boko Haram.

“If they do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognised Non-Governmental Organisation, convince them that they are holding the girls and that they want Nigeria to release a number of Boko Haram leaders in detention, which they are supposed to know. If they do it through the ‘modified leadership’ of Boko Haram and they talk with an internationally recognised NGO, then Nigeria will be prepared to discuss for their release.”

In her reaction, a public affairs analyst and former spokesperson for the Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), Barrister Nkechi Chukwueke, said the issue of the Chibok girls might have been a forgotten issue if the federal government had listened to the voices of concerned Nigerians who had called for negotiation with the abductors shortly after the girls were taken hostage.

Speaking in a chat with Independent, the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said commended President Buhari for accepting the swap offer, saying the federal government must do all it can to ensure the prompt release of the girls.

“It is unfortunate that as Nigerians, we are not proactive. I remembered a month after the abduction of the Chibok girls, the Boko Haram insurgents made an offer that they should be paid certain amount and the girls will be released. There was argument among Nigerians then on whether the federal government under former president Goodluck Jonathan should accept or reject the offer”.

“Many Nigerians said the government should not accept the offer claiming that if the FG should compromise and yield to the demand, the insurgents will keep asking for more ransom”.

“But I said no. I said whatever the government has to do to facilitate the rescue of the girls must be done. I said the girls must be rescued first. Then, the government can use the facilitators of the negotiation or other means to arrest the insurgents. But the advice was ignored”.

“Why should the girls be the ones to pay for the sins of the elite or the government? Why should we continue to make the girls and their families suffer?”

“Now, over two years after, it is the same story. Now, they are talking about negotiating for the release of the girls. If they had done what I and other well-meaning Nigerians advised then, by now, this issue would have been a thing of the past” she said.

Also speaking in a recent interview, co- founder of the BBOG campaign, Oby Ezekwesili, who has vowed to continue agitating until the girls are rescued said

“I think we just need to say to our president at this time there is no place for any prevarication. It is time to make a decision and to act decisively. Our Chibok girls must be rescued now!”

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