Saturday, 1 November 2014
Boko Haram Denies Ceasefire, Says Chibok Girls Are Already Married Off
The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, also claimed the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped from the remote northeast town of Chibok, in Borno state, in April had converted to Islam and been married off.
The video comes after a surprise Nigerian military and presidency announcement on October 17 that a deal had been reached with the militants to end hostilities.
A senior presidential aide to Goodluck Jonathan also said agreement had been reached to free the schoolgirls, whose abduction sparked global anger and demands for their release.
There was immediate scepticism about both claims because of previous assertions of ceasefires and the identity of the purported Boko Haram envoy at the supposed talks, Danladi Ahmadu.
Violence — and fresh kidnappings — have continued unabated since the announcement, including a triple bombing of a bus station in the northern city of Gombe on Friday that killed at least eight.
Nigeria’s government maintains that talks were ongoing in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena.
But Shekau, speaking in Hausa, dressed in military fatigues and boots with a black turban, and flanked by 15 armed fighters, said: “We have not made ceasefire with anyone…
“We did not negotiate with anyone… It’s a lie. It’s a lie. We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not.”
He also denied knowing Danladi.
There was no indication of when or where the video was shot but it was obtained through the same channels as previous communications from the group.
In it, Shekau mentions the Chibok girls for the first time since a video obtained on May 5, when more than 100 were shown in a rural location dressed in the hijab and reciting verses from the Koran.
Then, the militant leader said many of the girls had converted to Islam but in the latest, he indicated that all of those held had become Muslims.
“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 that 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.”
Human Rights Watch said in a report published this week that Boko Haram was holding upwards of 500 women and young girls and that forced marriage was commonplace in the militant camps.
One former hostage said she saw some of the Chibok girls forced to cook and clean for other women and girls who had been chosen for “special treatment because of their beauty”.