14 August 2016
The Federal Government is doing everything possible to secure the release of the Chibok girls and put an end to the horrible saga of their abduction, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said in Abuja on Sunday.
Reacting to the latest video of some of the girls, released by their Boko Haram abductors, the minister said government is in touch with those purportedly behind the video.
“We are on top of the situation. 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.
He expressed the hope that the latest development would signal the beginning of the end of the nightmare to which the girls, their families and indeed all Nigerians have been subjected since the unfortunate abduction.
The new video showed that some were killed in military air strikes and also showed one of the alleged victims pleading for authorities to release detained militants in exchange for the girls’ freedom.
Posted on Youtube on Sunday, the video showed a girl, covered in a hijab with just her face showing, identified as one of the 276 students abducted from Chibok in April 2014.
In the video, she claims that some of her kidnapped classmates died in aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force. She also said that 40 have been “married” to Islamic extremist fighters.
The AP also reports that the video shows a fighter warning in the Hausa language that if President Muhammadu Buhari’s government battles Boko Haram with firepower, the girls won’t be seen again.
“If our members in detention are not freed, let the government and parents of the Chibok girls know that they will never find these girls again,” he said.
The video, cited by the SITE Intelligence Group, was posted by Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist known to have good contacts in Boko Haram.
Salkida says he was given the video by the Boko Haram wing led by Abubakar Shekau, who is in a leadership battle with a lieutenant named by the Islamic State group as the new leader of what it calls its West Africa Province.
The government came under increased pressure from parents and the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners after the May escape of one young woman, a proof of life that they said should encourage the military and government to redouble efforts to rescue the girls. The escapee said some of the girls had died but scores remained in captivity and under heavy guard.
Sunday’s video appears another proof of life, though it was not immediately possible to reach any of the parents or Chibok leaders to verify the identity of those filmed.