The Nigerian government has denied Boko Haram’s offer to exchange the nearly 300 abducted girls for the Islamist militant group’s “brethren” in jail.
In a clip released on Monday, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau said, "For those who have not accepted Islam, I swear to Allah we will never release them until after you release our brethren in your prison." According to the BBC, while the offer may've sounded hopeful, Shekau's words made others, like one man who is related to three of the missing girls, anxious and upset.
"Maybe they are converted into another religion by force, so it truly is a kind of terrifying situation," said the man, who did not want to be named.
At this point, the state or whereabouts of the missing girls is unconfirmed. It is unclear if some have indeed been sold as child brides to Nigeria’s neighboring countries of Chad and Cameroon as an early report suggested or if Shekau has sold more of them as he threatened to do in his first public video during this abduction ordeal. According to Al Jazeera a US team of 30 touched down in Nigeria last week to aid the search for the girls, however it is not a small task. The Pentagon confirms that "manned" military planes are flying over northern Nigeria to search for the missing girls also.
"We are talking about helping the Nigerian government search an area that is roughly the size of New England," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, referring to the region in the US northeast.
What is clear is that the Nigerian government is not interested in Shekau’s terms.
"As far as this government is concerned, the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken arms against the country... is not on the table," said Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro.
Wednesday marks one month since the nearly 300 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok and, while some have escaped on their own, none have been rescued.
Photo Credit: AP Images.