· It’s not true, Defence Headquarters
· Army declares journalist, two others wanted
· We are in touch with Shekau, says FG
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and Zacheaus Somorin with agency report
The terrorist group in the North East of Nigeria, Boko Haram, on Sunday accused the Nigerian Airforce of killing some of the girls abducted from Chibok, Borno State in 2014.
The terror group in its latest video, released by the Abubakar Shekau faction, purportedly showing some of the missing girls, alleged that some of the girls were killed during the Airforce’s strikes on its camps in Sambisa Forest.
But the Defence Headquarters swiftly refuted Boko Haram’s claim, saying that while it was still studying the video to ascertain its veracity, it was improbable that its airstrikes could have killed innocent citizens since the defence forces took extra care to protect civilian population in the theatre of war.
“It is extremely difficult and rare to hit innocent people during airstrikes because the operation is done through precision attack on identified and registered targets and locations,” it said in a statement released by its Director of Information, Brigadier-General Abubakar Rabe.
According to Rabe: ‘’The Precision Airstrike is very effective at taking out targeted enemies because it is not a random operation. We are nevertheless studying the video clips to examine if the victims died from other causes rather from the allegation of airstrikes.’’
Also reacting to the video, which the terrorists said was released to get the federal government to negotiate with the sect for the release of some of their fighters in exchange for the abducted girls, the government said on Sunday that it was in touch with the Shekau’s faction of the terror group, stating that it would do all within its powers to secure the release of the girls.
”We are on top of the situation,” said the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, explaining that the federal government was, however, being extremely careful because the negotiations had been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram.
According to him: “We are also being guided by the need to ensure the safety of the girls. Since this is not the first time we have been contacted over the issue, we want to be doubly sure that those we are in touch with are who they claim to be.”
The video shows purported recent footage of dozens of the abducted school girls with a veiled fighter claiming, some of the girls had been killed in air strikes. One of them identified as Maina Yakubu, said she was from Chibok. She said: “What I want to tell my parents and the federal government is that the federal government should please release Boko Haram members in custody of security agents so we too can be released.
“Military jets have killed some of the girls.”
Apparently to buttress the claim that some of the girls were dead, unidentified bodies were shown on the ground.
The veiled fighter said the video was released to send a message to the parents of the girls to beg the Nigerian government to release Boko Haram members in various detention centres in exchange for the girls.
The man claimed that about 40 of the girls were already married, while some were dead.
Boko Haram kidnapped the girls, 276 in all, from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in April 2014, provoking global outrage. While some of them escaped, about 219 of the girls are still missing. In May, 2016, one of the missing girls, Amina Nkeki, was found with her young baby by local hunters in the Sambisa forest. She was subsequently received at the Presidential Villa, Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari who reiterated his government’s resolve to find the girls and bring them back alive to be reunited with their families.
But the government backed communications with the Boko Haram to negotiate the release of the girls has been complicated by the split in the group as the Islamic State announced Abu Musab al-Barnawi, two weeks ago, as the group’s new leader for West Africa in a two-paged interview published by its weekly magazine. Shekau, its previous leader, appears to have rejected the new role in another video published after Barnawi’s appointment.
Army declares Journalist, two others
The latest video appeared to be having some ripple effects as the Nigerian Army has declared wanted a journalist and two others with links to the terror group.
Ahmed Salkida, a Nigerian journalist who gained prominence following his established access to the extremist sect was declared wanted by the Nigerian Army. According to Premium Times, the Army in a post on its Twitter page on Sunday did not immediately give reasons for the announcement.
Also declared wanted were Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil.
Wakil, a lawyer, was in contact with the Nigerian government during the 2013 amnesty negotiations with the insurgents. She is believed to have met with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the time as part of the negotiations which later broke down.
Bolori is known as coordinator of the Fa’ash Foundation and the Partnership Against Violent Extremism (Pave). He lives in Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s birthplace and the epicentre of its insurgency.
He witnessed the rise of the terror group, which turned violent in 2009.
Security analysts believe the development might not be unconnected with the video that was released on Sunday, which the Army deemed as a propaganda for the Boko Haram sect.
Sakilda had said on Twitter that the latest Boko Haram video was sent exclusively to him before the sect uploaded it to YouTube. Boko Haram had said in the video that it would only negotiate with the Nigerian government through journalists known to be close to it.
#BringBackOurGirls Group Reacts
Reacting to the video, the conveners of #BringBackOurGirls, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, in a statement in Abuja said the group received the development with mixed feelings of grief and strengthened hope as the chilling words (in the video) continue to sink in.
The group said the spokesman of the Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA) in Abuja, Dr. Allen Manaseh, identified the veiled girl in the video as Dorcas Yakubu, whose mother Esther lives in the Abuja area, adding that the recognition of several of the girls left no room for doubt that these are the abducted Chibok girls.
Manaseh translated what Dorcas Yakubu said in kibaku in the video as follows: “Our parents please exercise patience. We are suffering here. There is no kind of suffering we haven’t seen. Our sisters are injured, some have wounds on their heads and bodies. Tell the government to give them their people so we can also come to be with you. We are all children and we don’t know what to do. The suffering is too much, please endeavour as we also have exercised patience. There is nothing you, or we, can do about this but to get their people back to them, so we can go home. Exercise patience as we also have endured.”
It said since its members last met with the President in January, it had continued to call on the President to be responsive to the needs of the girls’ parents and the Global Community for timely updates on the rescue operation.
“In the aftermath of an earlier video, we repeatedly called for the Government to treat the information as the missing piece of “credible information” it was seeking. Not even the return of Amina Ali, a Chibok girl, inspired the sort of response we demanded,” it stated.
The group charged the federal government that: “After listening to the call of Dorcas Yakubu, we demand an immediate, transparent, action and result-oriented response plan by the Government. We state categorically that the excuse of a split within the terrorists’ ranks or a period of validation of the authenticity of their claims will not suffice this time. We shall press these demands with a March to the Villa in the next few days.
“Nothing short of the military being in contact with the parents, confirming identities of our girls, providing psychosocial support where necessary, and most importantly, articulating an action plan will be acceptable.”
It called on the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, China, Australia, Israel and agencies like the United Nations and African Union, and all who previously expressed intentions to support the rescue efforts, to reengage and adopt a strategic rescue position.
Transcript of the Video
This is a message from Jama’atul ahlis sunnah lidda await wal jihad whom their leader is Abu Mohammed ibn Mohammed al Shekau. Am sending this message more especially to the parents of Chibok girls and the federal republic of Nigeria. Watch and view this video;
We want to send this video to the parents of these girls you are watching here, these girls which by God’s grace have been with us for 2 year.
The first message we want to send to their parents is that they should know that some of their children are still with us.
Secondly, they should release our members with immediate effect more especially the ones held hostage in Maiduguri, Lagos and Abuja and other parts of Nigeria where they are holding them. That’s my first message to the Chibok girls’ parents and the Federal Government.
Thirdly, as we all know the Chibok girls are still a lot in number and by God’s grace they have never guessed right or knew the exact location where these girls are and they will never know where they are by God’s grace. They are just spreading rumours and lies through the media saying they are getting back the girls and today it’s been over two years and they are still in our custody. Yet they still don’t know their whereabouts and because of that you need to know all these lies you are reporting about these girls aren’t true and the whole world should know.
Fourthly; about the Chibok girls, we have them over 2 years and there have been some things these girls passed through which am listing below:
There are a number of them about 40 that by God’s grace are married while some have returned to God/died due to the air plane strike by the non-believers that landed in the location they resided. We would be showing you a video of your air strike which landed on the girls that killed most of them. While we still have some of the girls here with us whom are left injured some with fractured bones and some with other injuries. And the rest which the bomb has burnt them to death. We want to show you these girls and we don’t have any bad intention against them. We just want our family members to be released and in return we release these girls too, if not you will never get to see or have these girls back. So this message we are sending to the FG and Chibok girls parents. We want the parents to urgently reach out to the FG and have them release our people if not, we would stop at nothing. Hope am understood clearly.
In this video, you will see how your planes killed your children, am sending this message to our fellow boko haram members in jail, especially the ones in Lagos to exercise patience and continue their worship and by God’s grace we would reach a level where no one expects and we would bring our members out especially Lagos, Maiduguri and other southern states they are held hostage. We would get them out! We are now going to bring out one of these girls to repeat the message I conveyed to her parents especially the FG to let go of our people and in return we let go of their children also. This is all I have to say!
He brings out the girl
MAN: WHATS YOUR NAME?
MAN: YOUR REAL NAME?
GIRL: MA’IDA YAKUBU
MAN: WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
GIRL: I AM FROM CHIBOK
MAN: WHERE WERE YOU PICKED UP?
GIRL: IN SCHOOL
MAN: WHATS THE NAME OF YOUR SCHOOL?
GIRL: GSS CHIBOK
MAN: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN HERE WITH US?
GIRL: 2 YEARS
MAN: WHATS THE MESSAGE YOU WANT TO SEND TO THE FG AND YOUR PARENTS?
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY ABOUT RELEASING OUR PEOPLE AND IN RETURN WE RELEASE YOU GIRLS?
GIRL: WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS THEY SHOULD PLEASE HELP AND TELL THE GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE THE BOKO HARAM MEMBERS IN THEIR CUSTODY SO THAT THEY CAN LET US COME HOME AND SEE THEM
(she continues pleading in her local dialect)
There are so many people who lie that the FG sends them to get these girls and because of that the government and the world should know that there is no mediator or anyone sent from us to negotiate with the FG for the release of these girls. The government should know better due to our past dealings with them the type of message that can be sent or conveyed from us. Besides we deal with no one talk more of sending a mediator to negotiate. We only deal with the media and have not sent anyone before but the media is our only connection to the FG.
We are saying and repeating again to release our members you are holding hostage and in return we would release the girls and if you don’t release our members we will never release these girls and if you feel you have the strength and total absolute power to get these girls forcefully then we are waiting to see that action. Especially you BUHARI and your workers, especially your soldiers that are lying to you saying they have finished and are done with us, let them try and let us see if they will get these girls alive, let them try and see what will happen or the outcome.
To avoid this waste of time in this video, just release our members and we would release your girls.