… Presidency debunks claim
Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has claimed that only 15 out of some 113 Chibok school girls believed to be remaining in Boko Haram captivity, may be still alive.
In various tweets on Saturday, Salkida made the chilling disclosure, alleging that many of the girls have died as a result of cross fires and bombardments by security forces on the hideouts of Boko Haram in Sambisa forest.
Following negotiations with the Nigerian Federal Government, 83 of the girls were released last year by Boko Haram, leaving 113 in the insurgents’ den.
The disclosure by Salkida, who is believed to have close sources in Boko Haram, is a dampener, as the nation marks the fourth year anniversary of the kidnapping of some 200 girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State on April 14, 2014.
The jurnalist claimed that the remaining 15 Chibok girls have been married off and were now answerable to their husbands, not to Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader.
Thus the Federal Government’s negotiation with the insurgents for their release would be more fruitful if channeled through their husbands, who might be unwilling to release their wives.
Salkida said the captured girls’ husbands proferred to die than to release their wives to the government.
However, the Presidency has refuted Salkida’s claims, saying he was not a party to the negotiation for the release of the Chibok girls.
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammad Buhari on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a media release in Abuja on Saturday said Salkida was neither involved in the processes that resulted in the release of over 100 Chibok girls nor in current negotiations get the remaining Chibok girls released.
He said: “Following the numerous press enquiries on the information contained in the series of tweets by Mr. Ahmed Salkida, we wish to reiterate that the information is not known to the officials of this administration either from the captors of the Chibok girls or the international intercessors who are working with us.
“We wish to confirm that Mr. Salkida is not involved, on behalf of the Nigerian government in the processes leading to the release of the over 100 Chibok Girls that have returned to their families, so far , and is not involved in the current processes to secure the release of those still held in captivity.’’
Apparently in a move to empathize with the parents of the abducted Chibok girls as they marked the 4th year anniversary of the seizure of their children, President Buhari on Friday reassured the parents that “their daughters will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate”.
In a press release signed by his Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari emphasized that despite four long years since the Chibok school girls was seized, his administration continue to work assiduously to secure their release.
The President noted that the rescue of more than 100 of the girls that were kidnapped through the Federal Government’s determined effort should give confidence that all “hope is not lost’”.
“We are concerned and aware that it is taking long to bring the rest of our daughters back home, but be assured that this administration is doing its very best to free the girls from their captors.
“Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks, owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors, whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.
“We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you.
“However, this government is not relenting. We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up.
President Buhari had promised during his presidential campaign in 2015 that he would secure the release of the Chibok girls if elected as President.
The Chibok school girls were abducted during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan on April 14, 2014 in their school premises in Government Secondary School, Chibok, near Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.