Ab­ducted Chi­bok girls ‘moved abroad’

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Tu­raki A. Has­san, Ibrahim Kabiru Sule & Ron­ald Mu­tum

Most of the 234 Borno school­girls in Boko Haram cap­tiv­ity have been fer­ried abroad to Chad and Cameroon af­ter they were mar­ried off to sect mem­bers on N2,000 bride price each, an el­der told Daily Trust yes­ter­day.

The fe­male stu­dents were taken from their hos­tels at the Govern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School Chi­bok on the night of April 14.

About 40 had es­caped in the days af­ter the in­ci­dent, but par­ents and school au­thor­i­ties said at least 234 of them were yet to be found.

Dr. Pogu Chi­bok, who is the leader of the Chi­bok Elders Fo­rum, told Daily Trust yes­ter­day that lat­est in­for­ma­tion avail­able to them in­di­cates that most of the girls have been taken to the neigh­bor­ing Cameroon and Chad by their cap­tors.

He said be­fore they were fer­ried in ca­noes across the Lake Chad, a wed­ding cer­e­mony was con­ducted at a town on the bor­der with Cameroon where they were mar­ried off to Boko Haram mil­i­tants.

He said N2,000 was paid as bride price on each of the girls to the spe­cific Boko Haram mem­bers who took them from their school and who had as­sumed “own­er­ship” of the stu­dents.

“They fer­ried them in ca­noes to Cameroon and Chad repub­lic af­ter they were wed­ded off to Boko Haram mem­bers who bid­ded (sic) and paid N2,000 each as dowries on their heads,” Bitrus said.

“The dowry was paid to their cap­tors, the very people who ab­ducted them from their school. One of them who mar­ried one of the girls took her to a bor­der town close to Cameroon where vil­lagers saw her.”

Fol­low­ing their ab­duc­tion, the school­girls were thought to be first taken to the Boko Haram camps in the no­to­ri­ous Sam­bisa For­est. Re­ports later said vil­lagers had seen the girls be­ing con­veyed in trucks to other lo­ca­tions.

Bitrus said yes­ter­day: “So many sources have in­formed us that the girls have been taken to Cameroon. Many vil­lagers said they saw the girls be­ing trans­ported in trucks and then in ca­noes.

“On Sun­day they were taken to Dikwa area where they (Boko Haram) have a camp there. From there they took them to Marte, then Monguno be­fore they were fi­nally fer­ried in ca­noes. It was yes­ter­day we got this lat­est re­port of them be­ing mar­ried off to the in­sur­gents by their cap­tors.”

He said sources in Cameroon told them that most of the girls were now be­ing held at “an area where the Boko Haram op­er­ates in Cameroon.”

‘Cry­ing day and night’

On whether mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties were in­formed about the move­ments of the girls, Bitrus said: “The mil­i­tary was alerted on Tues­day about two weeks ago when some vil­lagers saw many of the girls be­ing trans­ported in trucks, some with even their school uni­forms. The vil­lagers tried call­ing the se­na­tor rep­re­sent­ing the zone but they couldn’t get him so they went to Bama bar­racks where they re­ported the mat­ter.

“At the Bama bar­racks they were told that they must put it in writ­ing, that that is the mil­i­tary tra­di­tion. At that time if the mil­i­tary had in­ter­vened they would have stopped them from reach­ing their des­ti­na­tion.

“And the fact that for nearly two weeks we have been talk­ing about this and noth­ing is be­ing done, then there are ques­tions we have to ask. No­body did any­thing.”

Bitrus sobbed as he spoke to our re­porter yes­ter­day.

“What is hap­pen­ing with the Nige­rian na­tion? I think we de­mand some an­swers. To­day it is hap­pen­ing to these un­for­tu­nate girls from Chi­bok, to­mor­row it may be some­where else and that is why all Nige­ri­ans must rally around us on this,” he said.

“If these cap­tors are try­ing to achieve a po­lit­i­cal point, I think the best thing is for us to try to make sure that they don’t suc­ceed but from all in­di­ca­tions they are suc­ceed­ing due to in­ac­tion of govern­ment. It is help­ing these people in achiev­ing their ob­jec­tives.”

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Bitrus spoke to the BBC Hausa ra­dio say­ing “par­ents of these girls have been an­gry that de­spite the ex­is­tence of govern­ment, there has not been con­crete ef­fort from govern­ment on the mat­ter.

“Fe­male par­ents have been cry­ing day and night, be­cause no­body knows what govern­ment is do­ing about the whole is­sue. All that we read in the pa­pers is that Nige­rian Army have done this or that.”

When con­tacted over claims that the mil­i­tary was in­formed of the move­ment of the school­girls, the Di­rec­tor of De­fence In­for­ma­tion, Ma­jor Gen­eral Chris Oluko­lade, told Daily Trust: “The con­cern and anx­i­ety from all quar­ters is quite un­der­stand­able. Please be as­sured that as much as the forces may not dis­close de­tails of ac­tion be­ing taken to se­cure the free­dom of the girls, ev­ery in­for­ma­tion re­ceived on the sub­ject is duly an­a­lyzed and acted upon as nec­es­sary.

“No in­for­ma­tion is be­ing ig­nored in the con­certed ef­fort to en­sure the safety and free­dom of the girls. Just pray for the suc­cess­ful out­come of all ef­forts please.”

PHOTO Sani Maikatanga

Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers dur­ing the flag off of the first batch of 500 of­fi­cers to be trained on bor­der pa­trol to curb the pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity chal­lenges, in Kano yes­ter­day.

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