Parents demand swap of Chibok girls for Boko Haram detainees
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.
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