Four years into the abduction of about 300 school girls in Chibok, north eastern Nigeria, the Nigerian government has claimed that it has encountered difficulties in securing the release of the remaining girls.“Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks, owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors, whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.” Buhari said in a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity.“We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you. The statement added.
“We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up. Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfil our promise of reuniting you with your daughters.” Shehu said.
Contradicting the government’s position about the girls, Ahmad Salkida, a journalist who claimedto have initially negotiated for the release of the girls on the behalf of the government, has declared that only 15 out of the remaining 113 Chibok schoolgirls, are alive.
“I regret to state here that only 15 out of the 113 Chibok girls are alive today, based on my investigations in the last three months and we have already seen some of them in a video, which I exclusively obtained and was published on SR website.”Salkida claimed
“My investigations also revealed that, they are no longer under the control of Abubakar Shekau. According to sources, they are now ‘married’ and only their ‘husbands’ can decide their fates. If they are divorced or the men are killed that is when Shekau’s decision takes precedence, and in this instance, since the girls have been indoctrinated, their leader has no right to negotiate for their release, no matter the ransom offered.” Salkida said but declined to give the names of the girls still alive. “It will be unbearable to share the names of the 15 that are alive here, this is the responsibility of Government.” He added.
Yakubu Nkeki, leader of the Chibok parents’ group, expressing his disappointment at the situation the parents, said to reporters, “What troubles and somehow make us feel sad is that it took only 31 days to rescue the Dapchi schoolgirls, while our own here in Chibok is taking up to four years now. What is the fate of the remaining 112 schoolgirls that are still remaining in captivity,” Nkeki asked.
The fourth year commemoration of the abduction of the girls was held on Saturday, 14thApril at the Government Girls secondary school in Chibok where the girls were abducted four years ago. “Most of those in attendance were the parents of the missing schoolgirls; not more than 30 persons joined us for the prayers.
Danladi Saleh, a medical doctor helping the parents cope with the trauma, said, “to us as a community and even the parents of these missing girls, four years of waiting in anticipation of seeing your missing child return home can be very traumatizing… We have heard several rumor that some of the girls are dead; to that effect the federal government should come clear with credible information on the true situation so that some of the parents whose daughters may have died, can put their minds to rest rather than continuing to suffer the trauma they have suffered all this four years.
Reacting to the claims by Salkida that only 15 are alive today, spokesperson of the office of the president, Garba Shehu, in an email to PREMIUM TIMES, said, “If there is any information he has concerning the remainder of those girls, he has, up till this moment not approached the government of Nigeria with it.” The email said and reiterated that, “the government is not relenting. We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up.” He said, asking the parents of the girls “not to lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfil its promise, that the girls will not be abandoned or forgotten.”
Hassan John is West Africa editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos