April 2018Africa2018

Up to 104 girls freed from Boko Haram

By Kaitlin Principato

Staff Writer

Last month, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria by terror group Boko Haram; however, only 104 returned home. CNN intelligence confirmed that the five girls – and one boy – who did not return died in the captivity of the terror group. Multiple parents reported to CNN that some girls were in such poor conditions when they arrived, they couldn’t even stand.

The U.S. based Sahara Reporters told AfricaNews that “Boko Haram militants did not come with a single gun, they exchanged pleasantries with community leaders and left after dropping the girls off.”

This incident is not the first faced by the Nigerian people because of Boko Haram’s ideology. In 2014, the terror group kidnapped 300 girls from a private school, 100 of whom still remain captive.

After their arrival, the schoolgirls were later flown to the capital, Abuja, where they met the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. According to the Washington Post, President Buhari promised the government would step up security, especially in schools.

“The security services have since been directed to put in place further measures around all schools vulnerable to attacks to ensure the safety of our pupils, students and teachers and school workers,” he said. “I have tasked all the security agencies to work to ensure that we do not witness any recurrence of these incidents.”

While held captive, girls secretly kept diaries regarding their daily accounts. BBC published Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s diary, which she kept during her three years held imprisoned by Boko Haram Islamist militants. Nwaubani was 24 years old when she was abducted in 2014.

Diary entries revealed multiple occasions where girls attempted to escape by jumping off vehicles. Nwaubani also accounted for an instance when militants separated the Christian girls from those who were Muslim and threatened to burn those who would not convert to Islam with petrol. The group also insisted that girls would be released if they collectively converted to Islam.

According to these records, girls were not sexually abused, despite outside sources reporting otherwise. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, ranted about this a number of times, first in a recorded message that was played to the girls.

“Then in the night, they gathered us and preached to us and put [on] a cassette. They said that cassette is from their master Mr. Abubakar Shekau… So he said that just because of they kidnapped us to come and teach us the way of God, then your parents and the government and your principal are crying to us and saying that we are raping you and are doing bad, bad things to you… We brought you to teach you the way of Allah.”

Several international actors are accusing Nigeria’s military of ignoring warnings about the kidnapping. AfricaNews reported that an Amnesty International report on the kidnappings released this week accused the Nigerian army of failing to act on advance warnings of the raid.

At least five phone calls were allegedly made to the army and police on the afternoon of the attack, warning the Boko Haram militants were on their way to the school. Analysts have attributed a financial motive to the Dapchi kidnapping, given government ransom payments made to Boko Haram to secure the release of some of the captives from Chibok. The world continues to speculate if the Nigerian government will keep their promise towards future prevention.


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