Islamist militant group Boko Haram has released a video footage believed to be showing some of the schoolgirls they captured from the village of Chibok in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria, about 28 months ago.
In April 2014, Boko Haram Islamists stormed a school and seized over 200 schoolgirls preparing for final exams from their dormitory in the village of Chibok in Nigeria’s troubled northeast region, which had been overrun by the militants who seized territory and declared an Islamic caliphate.
The 10-minute long video, which is blurry in some parts, shows the schoolgirls covered in veils but with their faces exposed. Punch Newspaper reports that the video has emerged only a few days after Boko Haram’s embattled leader Abubakar Shekau released an audio file to debunk claims that he has been ousted as leader of the now-factionalised militant group.
The video, which is believed to have been released by Shekau’s faction of the group, does not feature Shekau himself. Instead, an armed man wearing military fatigues with his face largely obscured by a turban can be seen speaking in Hausa. He refers to the group as Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah lil-Da’awati wal Jihad – Boko Haram’s old name – to apparently to distinguish it with the ISWAP faction aligned to ISIS and headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
The armed man is surrounded by about 50 of the schoolgirls, many of them squatting or standing in the background. Referring to the Nigerian authorities, he tells the camera, “They should know that their children are still in our hands,” adding that “there is a number of the girls, about 40 of them, that have been married.”
In the video, he taunted the Nigerian authorities, daring them to rescue the captured girls through a military operation. He said that previous attempts at targeting the sect in airstrikes had led to the death of several of the girls: “Some of them have died as a result of aerial bombardment.”
The video also features a dialogue between the armed man and one of the kidnapped girls, who identified herself as Maida Yakubu. Following a question-and-answer format, she urges the Nigerian government to give into the demands of their captors.
The gunman in the video also called for the release of Boko Haram fighters held in detention by the Nigerian authorities, saying the schoolgirls will “never” be returned if the government does not release as many Boko Haram fighters, which the gunman says have been held “in detention for ages.”
The video ends with images of bodies, said to be the victims of air strikes, strewn across the ground at an undisclosed location.
Below is a translation of Boko Haram’s latest video by Sahara Reporters:
“This message is for the parents of Chibok girls and Federal Government of Nigeria from the leadership of Jama’atu Ahlus -Sunnah li-Da’awatiwal-Jihad under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau.
“Like I said this message is for the parents of the Chibok girls and the Federal Government of Nigeria, please listen attentively to the message.
“We are thanking Allah for his power, and it is in the exercise of his supreme power that we have been holding these girls for two years now. Praise be to Allah, we are still holding them. First, the message is to their parents to know the state of their children as you can see in this video.
“The parents should know that their children are still with us, some of them. And they should press on Federal Government to urgently set free our brothers in their captivity. Those they are holding in Maiduguri, Abuja, and Lagos and all parts of Nigeria; they are holding our brethren. This is what we want the parents to know.
“The second issue is, everybody know that the girls with us are many and the government and their might have no power to know where the girls are. They have been lying in the media that they will rescue the girls and now it’s two years and nothing has happened and the girls are still with us. The Federal Government and their might don’t know where [the girls] are. The government is just lying and will do nothing. This is what people should know.
“The next issue is, we captured these girls over two years ago and up to this moment, there are some developments we want the parents to know and the world to know. To the power of almighty Allah about 40 of [the Chibok girls] have been married off. Some have been killed through air strikes by the Nigerian military.
“We will show you clips of how some were killed by the military through air strikes. We will also show you clips of some of them who had broken bodies and injuries following the air strikes and air bombing. Like I said, these are the remaining girls, we have nothing against them. All that we want is, you should free our brothers.
“If you don’t set our brothers free, you should know from this moment that you will never get these girls back by the power of almighty Allah. This is the summary of our message to the Federal Government and the parents of Chibok girls.
“The core message is to the parents to prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria, if they don’t set our brothers free, we will not let these girls go. We hope you got the message and in this video you will see how [military jets] bombed and killed your girls. Some had broken bodies and are receiving medical attention.
“We want you to know again, we have nothing to get from these girls, but if you don’t set our brothers free, we will never set them free by the power of almighty Allah. You will see how jets killed your own children.
“The next message is to our incarcerated brothers, especially those in Lagos [and] Maiduguri. They should continue to worship Allah and remain prayerful—those in Lagos, Maiduguri and all parts of Nigeria. We will soon get to them by the power of Allah.
“We will now ask one of the Chibok girls to convey a message to her parents and Federal Government to urgently release our brothers.”
Below is the text of the conversation:
“What is your name?”
“Tell them your full name?”
“You are originally from where?”
“I am from Chibok.”
“Where did we kidnap you?”
“What’s the name of the school?”
“How many years have you been here?”
“I have been here for two years.”
“What message do you have to your parents and Federal Government of Nigeria?”
“What I will say is, our parents should be patient, they should tell government to set free their brothers so that they will also set us free.”
(Here, the Hausa conversation ended and Ms. Yakubu she started talking in a local Chibok dialect. When she was finished, Abubakar Shekau’s aide made final remarks, surrounded by the Chibok girls).
“Finally, I will close with this. There are many people coming to us with lies: that they are coming to us as emissaries of the Nigerian government to secure release of the girls. Because of this, the government and the world should know: There is nobody we sent to mediate over this matter.
“There are things that occurred in the past and you know it; we don’t deal with anyone in this matter except for some journalists. You should know this: we did not send anyone except the journalists we are interacting with. This is what we know.
“If you think you have might to rescue the girls, try it, especially you [President Muhammadu] Buhari and your workers since your soldiers have been lying to you. Let them try and see whether they will get the girls alive. Let them try and see. Free our brothers and we will free your girls.”