The BringBackOurGirls group and the parents of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls on Sunday demanded that the Federal Government swap detained Boko Haram members for the girls who have been in captivity for over two years.
This followed the video of the girls released by the sect on Sunday.
Boko Haram is holding more than 200 of the 276 final-year girls it seized from Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, in April 2014.
Some of them escaped, but 215 girls remain missing. In May 2016, one of them, Amina Ali, was rescued.
In the video released by the Abubakar Shekau faction, Boko Haram claimed that some of the girls were killed by air strikes launched by the Nigerian Air Force on their hideouts.
The new video, more than 11 minutes long, showed a masked armed man standing in front of several girls, whom he claimed were the over 200 girls abducted from their hostel at the GSS in 2014.
The man stated that the video was released to send a message to the parents of the girls to beg the government to release Boko Haram members in detention centres in exchange for the girls.
He said, ‘‘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 beg 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 don’t know where they are. You have been lying about these girls.
‘‘For over two years that we have been with these girls, about 40 of them have been married, some are dead as a result of airstrikes 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, all we want is for you to release our brethren, otherwise, you will never get these girls, God willing. This 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.
One of the girls, Maida Yakubu (Dorcas), who spoke in both Hausa and Kibaku, her native language, asked parents to “be patient and beg the government to release their people, so that we will also be released.”
The BBOG, in a statement, on Sunday, read by a co-convener, Aisha Yesufu, stated that members would press for their demands with a march to the President office.
“After listening to the call of Dorcas Yakubu, we demand an immediate action, as well as a result-oriented response plan by the government. The excuse of a split within the terrorists’ ranks or a period of validation of the authenticity of their claims will not suffice this time. We shall press these demands with a march to the Presidential Villa in the next few days,” the group stated.
The coalition expressed disappointment over the failure of the government to make use of the information it received from the earlier video of the girls in April.
“In the aftermath of an earlier video, we repeatedly called on government to treat the information as the missing piece of credible information it was seeking. Not even the return of Amina Ali, a Chibok girl, inspired the sort of response we demanded,” the group added.
It called on the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, China, Australia, Israel, and agencies like the United Nations and the African Union to reengage and adopt a strategic rescue position.
A co-convener of the coalition, Oby Ezekwesili, stated that there were only three choices available to the government.
She stated that her movement would not allow the government to rest until the Chibok girls were rescued or released, adding that the BBOG did not want to see another video of the girls.
She said, “We are not going to let up until this government acts. Let them get ready because every day we shall be marching to the (Presidential) villa. These girls were kidnapped in the course of getting education, which annoyed me to no end.
“It is on this basis of education that I became what I am today. If it means marching to the villa everyday to demand the release of our chibok girls, so be it….Only three choices are available – negotiate to release our girls, use the military operation or a combination of the two. We don’t want to see a fourth video.”
Also, Esther Yakubu, the mother of one of the abducted girls, Dorcas, said she broke down while watching the video of her daughter.
Esther said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was “more clueless than Jonathan’s.”
“The Chibok girls must be rescued, they must have their lives, the future that Boko Haram tries to truncate,” she said in an emotional outburst.
Earlier, Esther had told one of our correspondents that she regretted putting Dorcas in boarding school.
“I wanted her to have the best of education, I planned to sponsor her education to whatever level she wanted, but she could not sit for her final examinations because she was abducted.
“Boko Haram in the video asked the government to release their members so that they could release our girls. If the government knows that it cannot handle the insurgency, it should invite other countries. It is not a crime to seek assistance in a war. It is a shame for them to allow our daughters to languish in captivity for over two years.
“I don’t regret sending her to school, but I regret putting her in boarding school. If she was a day student, she would be home with me that night. The abduction affected her because she was in boarding school,” Yakubu added.
She said apart from her daughter, she recognised about 20 other girls.
“I recognised Saratu Ayuba, Awa Ishaiya and others. In that video, Dorcas has grown up a little and she is slimmer. I cried when I saw her in the video. That is only change I observe, but I thank God she is alive.”
Dorcas father, Kabu Yakubu, urged the government to release Boko Haram detainees in exchange for the Chibok girls, adding that the demand had boosted his hope that his daughter and others would eventually make it home.
“I will sleep well because since she was kidnapped, I have never seen her in other videos released. But today, I saw her in the video, and my joy was rekindled.
“What we have been telling the government is what Boko Haram demanded in the video. We are appealing to the government to help us to release Boko Haram detainees so they can release our daughters. In the video, my daughter was begging the government to negotiate with the terrorists and they (Boko Haram) said unless the government releases their members who were being detained in Abuja, Lagos and Maiduguri prisons, they won’t release the girls.
Chibok resident urges govt to bring girls home
The President, Kibaku Youth Association of Nigeria, the youth association of the community, Moses Zakwa, said whatever the Federal Government could do to rescue the Chibok girls would be welcomed by parents of the abducted girls and the entire community.
He said the Chibok community and the parents of the abducted girls were already disappointed that the All Progressives Congress government failed in its promise to rescue the girls within its first 100 days in power.
Zakwa said, “The government knows the best thing to do. We, the stakeholders and parents of the Chibok girls, want the government to do whatever within its power to rescue the Chibok girls. This is over two years of abduction that we are talking about. This issue happened in 2014 and till today only one girl had been rescued.
“This same APC government used the platform of Chibok girls, one way or the other, to clinch the power. They promised Nigerians that they were going to do everything possible to rescue the girls; and we believed them – Nigerians believed them. Today, we are talking about over one year since they assumed office, nothing has happened.
We are in touch with Boko Haram – FG
The Federal Government on Sunday said it was in touch with members of Boko Haram.
In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government added that it was being cautious in order to establish that it was dealing with the right people.
Asked by our correspondent if the government was conceding to the request of the Islamist group, Mohammed said the government was doing everything possible to secure the release of the girls and “put an end to the horrible saga of their abduction”.
He said, “The government is in touch with those behind the video. We are on top of the situation. We are being extremely careful because the situation has been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram. We are also being guided by the need to ensure the safety of the girls.
“Since this is not the first time we have been contacted over the issue. We want to be doubly sure that those we are in touch with are who they claim to be.
“We hope that the latest development will signal the beginning of the end of the nightmare to which the girls, their families and indeed all Nigerians have been subjected since the unfortunate abduction.”
Military dismisses B’Haram’s claim
The Defence authorities have described the claim by the Boko Haram that some of the Chibok girls were killed in airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force as propaganda.
The acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, told our correspondent on the telephone on Sunday that the equipment used by the military in the bombing of the Sambisa forest had a high level of precision in hitting targets.
He said the insurgents were only making attempts weep up psychological trauma in the parents and citizenry against the military.
Abubakar added that the military was studying the latest video released by the insurgents to ascertain its authenticity.
He further stated that the same platforms were deployed by military in the operation against pipeline vandals at Arepo and other riverine communitiesof Ogun and Lagos states.
He said, “We are still assessing the video clip to confirm its authenticity or otherwise. This is an era of social media, anything can happen, anybody can crop up anything. However, we are very much alive to our responsibilities.
“The claim that the aerial bombardment was used to kill some of them is a complete propaganda; they are trying to buy time, or trying to put psychological trauma in Nigerians against the military.
“The equipment we are now using since the beginning of the new leadership of the military is a high level precision aerial equipment; just the way we did in Arepo in the Ogun, Lagos areas against vandals. The equipment was capable of the registering target and capable of hitting that target.
“The equipment was used to avoid unnecessary targets; to avoid collateral damage. So the issue of saying we are using bombs to kill Chibok girls is propaganda. They are trying to create psychological trauma in the parents and all Nigerians.”
Abubakar added that the decision on the exchange of the Chibok girls for Boka Haram suspects could only be taken by political leaders.
“We should not close our eyes on other people who have been rescued recently as a result of Operation Crack Down? The issue of exchange is purely for our respected political leaders. The military would continue with our operation.”
Army declares journalist, two others wanted
The Nigerian Army has declared a journalist, Ahmed Salkida, and two others, Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil, wanted for their alleged connection with Boko Haram.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, on Sunday via email, saying the army decided to declare Salkida and the two others wanted because of the conviction that they had relevant information on the location of the Chibok girls.
He said that the army’s decision had to do with the two recent videos released by the leadership of the insurgent group and the findings by a preliminary investigation by the military on the videos.
He stressed that the military was sure that Salkida and the two others had contact with the terrorists and the missing girls.
Usman said that the three wanted people must come forward to tell Nigerians where the missing girls and other abducted persons were being kept to enable the military to rescue them.
‘‘There is no doubt that these individuals have links with Boko Haram.”
The acting Army Spokesman called on Nigerians to provide useful information that could lead to the arrest of the three wanted persons.
Wakil, who is a lawyer, was in contact with the Federal Government in 2013, during the amnesty negotiations with the insurgents.
She was reported to have met with former President Goodluck Jonathan as part of the negotiation, which later broke down.
Bolori is said to be the coordinator of the Fa’ash Foundation and the Partnership Against Violent Extremism. He resides in Maiduguri.
I got the video exclusive before release –Salkida
Salkida had on Saturday went on his Twitter handle, @ContactSalkida, to announce that he had obtained the video of the Chibok girls exclusively from Boko Haram.
In a series of tweets, the journalist analysed what he saw in the video, saying one of the girls in the video said airstrikes by the military had allegedly killed some of her colleagues.
He said, “Just In: Jama‘atu Ahlil Sunnah Li-Da‘awati Wal-Jihad #BH has released a video showing the abducted #Chibokgirls and restating their demands.
“This is the second time Shekau has ordered a video of the girls to be released to the public since the abduction of the girls 852 days ago.
“I’m studying the video of the #Chibokgirls that was sent exclusively to me before their abductors upload on it YouTube later. @BBOG_Nigeria.
“Many of the girls can be seen in the video; a Chibok girl speaks in mother tongue and narrates how airstrikes has killed dozens of her mates.
Salkida later twitted the YouTube link to the video on Sunday morning.
In what appeared to be a change of tone after the military declared him and others wanted, Salkida tweeted links to his report published on December 12, 2011, in which he said he was critical of Boko Haram.
He tweeted the link together with another link to another report by him on the division in the camp of the sect, saying, “Recently, BH threatened me for this.”
After this, Salkida twitted a link to a paper he said he delivered in Senegal in 2012, titled ‘Reporting Terrorism in Africa: My Personal Experience with Boko Haram.’