Army declares journalist wanted for ‘links’ with insurgents
ABUBAKAR Shekau, factional leader of the Boko Haram sect, stunned the world with the release of a new video showing the abducted Chibok girls and claiming that the Nigeria Air Force targeted and killed some of them during air raid operations. However, in a swift reaction, the military has denied such allegation, maintaining that their air strikes were targeted at the terrorists and not the girls. They also placed three persons on wanted list for their relationship with the terrorists. A masked armed man in the recent video claimed that the video was released to send a message to the parents of the girls, as well as enjoin the Nigerian government to release Boko Haram members in various detention centres in exchange for the girls. In the video, the man said about 40 of the girls were already married while some were dead. One of the girls, Maida Yakubu, who spoke in both Hausa and her native language, asked parents to “be patient and beg the government to release their people, so that we will also be released.” In the full transcript of the video as published by online newspaper, Premium Times, the masked man standing in front of the girls stated: “This is a message from the Jama.atu ahlis sunnah lidda awati wal jihad under the leadership of Abu Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Abubakar As-Shekau. “We are sending a special message to the parents of the Chibok girls and the Nigerian government. “We thank God for giving us the opportunity to send this message to the parents of these girls (pointing at the girls sitting behind him). “It pleased God to let us have these girls in our captivity for over two years now. Our first message is to the parents of the girls to let them know that their daughters are still with us, some of them. “I also want to tell them to ask the Nigerian government to release our brethren, especially those in Maiduguri, Lagos and Abuja, and other places across Nigeria. They should be released immediately. “You all knew that we had the girls, but God never allowed you to know their location and you will never know by God’s grace. You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them; they have been with us for over two years, yet you can’t even know where they are. You have just been lying about these girls; people should know that,” the masked man said. He added: “Also, for the over two years that we have been with these girls, about 40 of them are married; some are dead as a result of airstrike by infidels. We will show you a video of how your own aircraft dropped a bomb that killed some of these girls. Some of the girls have suffered fractures and other forms of injuries as a result of the air strikes. “As you can see, these are the girls, all we want is for you to release our brethren otherwise you will never get these girls, God willing. This in short is our message to the federal government and the parents of the Chibok girls. “As long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls; that is our message. “I specially inform our people in captivity in Lagos that they should be patient and continue with their prayers; God will take us to where no one expects and we will rescue them. All those in Lagos, Maiduguri and other southern parts of the country. keep praying; very soon we will rescue you,” he boasted. One of the girls is called to speak to her parents and the federal government in a Q & A format Q. What is your name? A. My name is Maida Yakubu Q. Where are you from? A. I am from Chibok town Q. Where were you picked from? A. School Q. What is the name of the school? A. GSS Chibok Q. For how long have you been here? A. About two years Q.What message do you have for your parents and the federal government of Nigeria? A. All I can say is that our (begins speaking in native language) parents should be patient, beg the government to release their people so that we can also be released, (switched to native language). Most of the girls standing and sitting behind Miss Yakubu were seen fighting tears and using their hijab to hide their emotions. Armed man takes over. “Let me conclude this message by saying that many people have been coming to us lying that they were sent by the Nigerian government to get the girls released. “Let the government and the whole world know that we have not sent anyone to negotiate with the government on our behalf over these girls. We have dealt with you in the past before and you know our recommended negotiators. “If you need to, you should talk to them. We don’t use our own people to negotiate with you; we use your own people such as journalists to talk with you. We have not sent any other persons. You know that we prefer to use journalist known to you. “Let me say again, release our people and we release your girls, otherwise they will never be released. If you think you have the power to come and rescue them, go ahead and try. President Buhari, your army has been lying to you that they have finished us; let them try and see if they can rescue these girls alive.” Video ends with a flying jet and then some female bodies lying on the ground. However, the Nigerian Army yesterday declared three persons wanted, claiming the trio knows the whereabouts of the school girls. The army stressed that two recent incidents had pointed to the fact that there were three individuals namely Ahmed Salkida, (Ambassador) Ahmed U. Bolori and Aisha Wakil who have information on the conditions and the exact location of these girls and therefore declared them wanted. Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman said in a statement yesterday that the two men and the lady were wanted for interrogation. Col. Usman said the army were relying on relevant laws of the land and in particular the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 (as amended), where Nigerians could be punished for failure to disclose information about terrorists or terrorist activities. “This becomes necessary as a result of their
link with the last two videos released by Boko Haram terrorists and other findings of our preliminary investigations. “There is no doubt that these individuals have links with Boko Haram terrorists and have contacts with them. They must therefore come forward and tell us where the group is keeping the Chibok girls and other abducted persons to enable us rescue them. “We are therefore calling on all Nigerians and peace loving people to give us useful information on their whereabouts. We are also liaising with other security agencies for their arrest if they fail to turn up,” Usman said He further stated that the military had appealed for their unconditional release, even as it had made concerted efforts to rescue them. “We also appeal to Nigerians that have any information to volunteer to the military or security agencies to enable us rescue them.” Some 50 girls wearing headscarves are seen behind a Boko Haram militant who demanded the release of fighters in return for the girls. The militant group seized 276 final-year girls from a school in the northern town in April 2014. It is believed the terrorists are still holding more than 200 of those kidnapped. Non-Muslims were forcibly converted to Islam, and it is feared that many of the school girls have been sexually abused and forced into “marriage” by their captors. A leading member of the Bring Back Our Girls movement which campaigns for their release, Aisha Yesufu told BBC News after watching the video that she was terrified by what she had seen. “Everybody should be disturbed by the conditions of the girls,” she said. The video began with a shot of a masked man carrying a gun, speaking to the camera. Speaking in the Hausa language, the gunman said the girls on display would “never” be returned if the government did not release Boko Haram fighters who had been “in detention for ages.” The video concluded with a footage of bodies said to be the victims of air strikes, lying on the ground at another location. Maida’s mother, Esther, is one of several parents of the Chibok girls who recently published open letters to their daughters detailing the pain they feel at their absence and their hopes for the future. Another girl among those standing in the background could be seen with a baby. Boko Haram has waged a violent campaign for years in northern Nigeria in its quest for Islamic rule; and a faction of the group recently pledged loyalty to so-called Islamic State, the militant group which controls parts of northern Syria and Iraq.
Thousands of people have been killed or captured by Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden.” Bid to pressurise government? Analysis by Tomi Oladipo, BBC News, Lagos Boko Haram has always maintained that the Chibok girls were safe and would only be released if the Nigerian government gave in to its demands. Through this video, the group is again trying to make the government look like the villain for carrying out air strikes on the militants, which it claims had backfired and hit the abductees instead. Reigniting public sympathy for the girls might be an attempt to force the government to listen. Boko Haram is attempting to paint the military campaign against the jihadists as a failure. It is also significant that this video comes shortly after a split in the group, with one faction maintaining that it is the true regional branch of the so-called Islamic State. The video indicates that the other faction led by Abubakar Shekau is the one holding the Chibok girls and so it would use this to show why it cannot be ignored, even if its rivals have foreign backing. Ms Yesufu said it was “very clear” that the government had “failed in its responsibility to rescue these girls despite promising to do so several times. “It is also disgusting to realise that it has refused to reach out to the militants,” she added. But Nigerian Information Minister, Alhaji Mohammed insisted the government was doing everything possible to secure the girls’ release. ‘’We are on top of the situation,” he said. “But we are being extremely careful because the situation has been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram. 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 minister said. Boko Haram has waged a long campaign to push for Islamic rule. The video is the first since CNN obtained footage in April purportedly showing 15 of the girls. The Chibok girls had been thought to be in a heavily forested area of northern Nigeria. A girl said to be one of those captured, Amina Ali Nkeki, was found wondering in the Sambisa Forest in May by an army-backed vigilante group. But the exact circumstances of what the government initially termed “her rescue” were unclear.