Swap cap­tive Nige­rian girls for Boko Haram mil­i­tants: Mother

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

LAGOS — The mother of a kid­napped Chi­bok school­girl ap­pealed on Mon­day for Nige­ria’s pres­i­dent to free de­tained Boko Haram mil­i­tants in ex­change for the more than 200 girls held cap­tive, as the Islamic ex­trem­ists have of­fered.

A Boko Haram video posted on Sun­day shows dozens of the 218 girls who were ab­ducted from a re­mote school in April 2014, with one say­ing that “some” have died in mil­i­tary airstrikes.

Nige­ria’s de­fence min­istry dis­puted that. “It’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and rare to hit in­no­cent peo­ple dur­ing airstrikes be­cause the oper­a­tion is done through pre­ci­sion at­tacks on iden­ti­fied and reg­is­tered targets and lo­ca­tions,” spokesper­son bri­gadier gen­eral Rabe Abubakar said in a state­ment.

In the video, one of the kid­napped girls begs their par­ents to press Nige­ria’s gov­ern­ment to free de­tained Boko Haram mem­bers so that the school­girls can be freed in a pris­oner swap.

“The gov­ern­ment should just re­lease the mil­i­tants,” her mother, Es­ther Yakubu said. She wept when she watched the first proof of life of her daugh­ter since her cap­ture. “All the girls that have been res­cued have res­cued them­selves. Not any gov­ern­ment has res­cued them, no army res­cued them,” she said.

Dozens es­caped on their own within hours of the mass ab­duc­tion of 276 stu­dents that shocked the world. In May, a lone Chi­bok girl es­caped from the Sam­bisa For­est strong­hold of Boko Haram, say­ing she was led to free­dom by her dis­il­lu­sioned Boko Haram “hus­band”.

The Bring Back Our Girls cam­paign is also press­ing for a pris­oner ex­change, say­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari “rode to power” on the back of their cause but has done noth­ing tan­gi­ble to free the girls.

“Mr Buhari can ab­so­lutely af­ford to trade ter­ror­ists’ lives for school­girls,” said hu­man rights lawyer Em­manuele Ogebe, whose Education Must Con­tinue cam­paign is pay­ing to ed­u­cate some of the es­caped Chi­bok girls in the United States.

He ques­tioned the pres­i­dent’s sin­cer­ity, not­ing that Buhari said in May that he had not watched a proof-of-life video sent by Boko Haram to en­cour­age ne­go­ti­a­tions, ap­par­ently as early as Jan­uary.

Of­fi­cials are wary, not­ing pre­vi­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions have failed be­cause of­fi­cials have been duped into talks with the wrong peo­ple. “We are be­ing ex­tremely care­ful,” In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Lai Mo­hammed said in a state­ment. “We want to be dou­bly sure that those we are in touch with are who they claim to be.”

A fighter who speaks in the video hints at who could me­di­ate. “We want the gov­ern­ment to know that we don’t trust you, ex­cept some few jour­nal­ists. We have never sent out or ac­cept to be ap­proached by any­body ex­cept jour­nal­ists that we trust.”

The video was posted on Sun­day by Nige­rian jour­nal­ist Ah­mad Salkida, who lives in Dubai and is known to have good con­tacts in Boko Haram. Salkida said the video was sent to him by Abubakar Shekau’s wing of Boko Haram.

On Sun­day night, Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary de­clared Salkida a wanted man, claim­ing he has “in­for­ma­tion on the con­di­tions and the ex­act lo­ca­tion of these girls.”

Mean­while, Nige­rian troops have thwarted a Boko Haram at­tack in the coun­try’s volatile north­east, killing 16 in­sur­gents while 12 sol­diers were wounded, an army spokesper­son said on Mon­day.

Troops “suc­cess­fully re­pelled” the Boko Haram at­tack in the town of Kan­garwa on Sun­day, Colonel Sani Us­man said in a state­ment.

The mil­i­tary “rose to the oc­ca­sion and dealt a de­ci­sive blow on the in­sur­gents by killing 16,” he said, adding: “Un­for­tu­nately, an of­fi­cer and 11 sol­diers were wounded in ac­tion dur­ing the en­counter.”

A cache of arms and am­mu­ni­tions were recovered from the in­sur­gents, he said.

Us­man said the mil­i­tary res­cued five peo­ple held by the ji­hadists in the vil­lage of Do­gon Chikun early on Mon­day dur­ing an oper­a­tion to clear the area of Is­lamists.

Boko Haram, which seeks to im­pose strict Islamic law in north­ern Nige­ria, has been blamed for some 20 000 deaths and dis­plac­ing more than 2.6 mil­lion peo­ple since 2009.

A counter-of­fen­sive spear­headed by Nige­ria since Jan­uary last year has re­cap­tured swathes of ter­ri­tory lost to the Is­lamist mil­i­tants in 2014.

On Sun­day, Boko Haram re­leased a video show­ing at least one of 218 school­girls kid­napped from Chi­bok more than two years ago. — AFP —

Sup­port­ers of Edgar Lungu cel­e­brate in the streets af­ter he nar­rowly won re-elec­tion Reuters

Muham­madu Buhari

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.