Nigerian government says it does not know whereabouts of remaining Chibok girls
After more than five years Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped some Chibok schoolgirls, the Nigerian Government has said it has no idea about the location of the girls.
“It is true that the government has no information on where the captives are held, otherwise it would have seized the location and recovered the girls using all means at its disposal,” a presidency spokesman, Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Monday.
On 14 April 2014, Boko Haram, the violent extremist group abducted 276 girls from their school dormitory in Borno State. 57 of the girls managed to escape en route, but the group would eventually confine 219 of them.
Out of the 219 girls kidnapped, 107 have so far made it home: four of them by Nigerian military/ para-military intervention, and 21 of them were initially released in October 2016 after negotiations between the Buhari administration and Boko Haram, 82 more were freed in May 2017.
Since then, nothing more has been heard of the remaining 112 young women and five years on.
The government in its recent reassuring commitment to secure the release of the remaining girls “by peace or by force”, was prompted by a book written by a British Sierra Leonean journalist and lead reporter CNN Africa, Isha Sesay.
Sesay in her book titled Beneath the Tamarind Tree explores Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls. She combines the released Chibok girls’ stories with her own journalistic experiences to powerful effect.
The presidency while reacting to the book calls the book “a good book on Chibok, hampered by misrepresentations.”
Shehu said it was wrong of the author to say of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration “don’t know who to negotiate with” because Boko Haram had split into factions.
Boko Haram split when Islamic State named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the group’s leader in August 2016. The other main division is led by Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s most recognisable figure.
Shehu, however, said the split “had the effect of making negotiation and reaching an agreement a more difficult talk.”
But he said the “country and our international partners are still engaged through third parties with the terrorists.”
Shehu said the release of some girls is a “milestone” but believes the job is not “complete” until the remaining Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu.
Sharibu was abducted alongside over 100 schoolgirls by a faction of Boko Haram from their boarding school in Dapchi village, Yobe State in February, 2018.
Most of the students were released after four weeks. However, Sharibu was held back after she reportedly refused to renounce her Christian faith.
The presidential spokesman noted that government is not “giving up and we happy that the individuals, groups and nations partnering with the administration have continued to show interest in securing the release of our daughters.”