1st November, 2014
Director of Defence Information in Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters, Maj. General Chris Olukolade said the latest video released by the insurgent group, the Boko Haram is being studied.
He said further information on the defence headquarter position on the issues involved would be released in due course.
Olukolade’s statement still held out some scintilla of hope of a peaceful resolution of the insurgency that has ravaged North eastern Nigeria and displaced thousands of citizens from their homes.
“The military will continue to accord due recognition to any ongoing mediatory efforts toward bringing our girls home and terminating the insecurity in parts of the country.
“Citizens are assured that the military and security agencies remain committed and optimistic for positive outcome of ongoing operations,’’ It added.
In its latest video, Boko Haram claimed that the 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped more than six months ago have converted to Islam and been “married off”, shocking their families but confirming suspicions about a supposed deal for their release and a wider ceasefire.
The Islamist group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, who the military claimed was deceased, also denied government assertions of an agreement to end hostilities and peace talks.
Shekau also claimed responsibility for the abduction of a German national, who was seized from his home in the northeastern state of Adamawa on July 16.
The mention of the girls, who were abducted from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in Borno state on April 14, is the first by Shekau since May 5, when about 100 of the teenagers were shown on camera.
Then, the girls were seen wearing the hijab and reciting verses from the Koran. The militant leader said then that not all had converted.
But he indicated that all of those held had now become Muslims and married, chiming with testimony from former hostages who say forced marriage and conversion is commonplace in Boko Haram camps.
“Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorised two chapters of the Koran,” he said.
Shekau previously threatened to sell the girls as slave brides and also suggested he would be prepared to release them in exchange for Boko Haram prisoners.
In the latest message, he said while laughing: “We have married them off. They are in their marital homes.”
Nigeria’s government said on October 17 that they had reached a deal to end five years of deadly violence in the country’s far northeast, as well as agreement to release the Chibok girls.
But violence has continued unabated, including a triple bomb attack on a bus station in the northern city of Gombe on Friday, which killed at least eight and injured dozens more.
Last weekend, about 30 children — some of them girls as young as 11 and boys aged 13 upwards — were abducted from another village in Borno state.
At least 40 women were abducted the previous weekend not far from Chibok. And in the latest military assault, Boko Haram militants seized the town of Mubi in Adamawa state, killing dozens of people, including a university teacher, and his entire family.