Thousands of Other Girls Remain Under Boko Haram Captivity – Negotiator

Paid and released Boko Haram terrorist

As the news of the release of another batch of 82 schoolgirls seized from their dormitory in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, hit the airwaves on Saturday, May 6, 2017, the focus was once again on the girls whose predicament had caught the attention of the world. It was cherry news for the girls, who have been traumatised for over three years and inflicted with ailments that may leave some of them in agony for a long time to come.

The release of the girls, apart from consoling their parents, has given hope to those yet to be freed that many of them were not killed by bombs unleashed by troops in their encounters with Boko Haram or due to untold hardship in the camps of the terrorists. But that is as far as the good tiding goes.

A more frightening dimension to the story emerged on Sunday, May 7, 2017 when one of the top officials involved in the negotiation for the freedom of the abducted girls with the Boko Haram terrorists gave a hint of what was going on in the den of the malevolent elements.

The official explained that while the whole world was focusing attention on the 279 Chibok schoolgirls, there are thousands of other girls, some even younger than the Chibok girls, held by the Islamist group’s leaders.

President Muhammadu Buhari (standing) speaking during a reception for the 82 Chibok girls.

60 of the girls had escaped from the terrorists on the day of the attack while 219 were taken away. With the 21 of the girls earlier released and the 82 freed, penultimate Saturday, Boko Haram now has 117 of the captives in its custody.

“Yes, apart from the 117 Chibok girls now remaining with the terrorists, thousands of other girls, whose fate has not yet been determined, are there. Believe me, they are in thousands and it is shocking that many Nigerians are unaware of their predicament,” the official explained.

Asked to explain how such a large number of young girls could be kept by the terrorists without being detected and rescued by troops, the source said it was obvious that Boko Haram did not keep all the women in one location to avoid being discovered by security agents.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that the distribution of the captured girls among the terror group’s leaders shielded them from being detected by security agents, who have been carrying out reconnaissance and bombing missions against the terrorists since the capture of the victims.

It was also learnt that the Boko Haram commanders and members, who are keeping the young girls for their sexual comfort and as human shields, also deploy them on suicide missions.

The source pointed out that the group’s leaders preferred to use the young females, who had been radicalized and married off on deadly missions.

“These young girls do not know much about what they are being told to do and have no will power to resist the terrorists’ leaders, thereby making it easy for them to be used at random for suicide bombings in the North-East”, the source said.

According to findings, most of the girls in the custody of the group as slaves and sex partners were seized through raids on their homes, worship centres, farms and remote communities not effectively covered by security agencies fighting insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria.

“When the insurgents strike in villages, they always go for young women by separating them from their husbands, fathers and brothers who they see as potential enemies. Often times, they would first kill the men found with women before taking the females to their hideouts to avoid being detected and rescued by troops.

“This is why they have thousands of young females in their custody,” the official indicated.

The source, however, said government had begun moves to enter into fresh discussions with the leadership of Boko Haram with a view to freeing all the captives in their custody.

He said that apart from freeing the captives, government was keen on ending the vicious cycle of suicide missions which had cost the nation a lot in terms of human lives and materials and heightened insecurity and uncertainty in the country.

The official said, “Right now, the Federal Government and the group’s leadership have accepted to open discussions on how to free all the girls in the custody of Boko Haram and end the hostilities orchestrated by the terrorists”.

But a worrisome aspect of the captivity is the view that some of the captured girls had refused or rejected to be rescued from the terrorists, a claim repudiated by one of the negotiators based in Maiduguri, Borno State.

“ Look, let me tell you that we were in a dilemma because even though government wanted all the girls back in one fell swoop, the group eventually agreed to release only 82 to us”, the negotiator said.

“Again, while they named their commanders to be released, government could not choose which of the girls to be released and which to be left behind”.

“Look, don’t forget that these are young girls whose parents have been traumatised over their abduction in the past three years and they are anxious to see them back home. How do you now ask if the girls wanted to return home if you see them in good state? Does that make sense?

“It is therefore wrong for anyone to say that some of the Chibok girls refused to be rescued because, in the first place, they were not given such privilege to choose if they wanted to stay with Boko Haram terrorists or to return home.

“The truth of the matter is that many of the Chibok girls were immediately radicalised and married off by Boko Haram leaders as soon as they were captured. But even the negotiating team did not have the option of choosing who to release and who to leave behind”.