In news that sadly does not come as much of a surprise, AFP has obtained a video of a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau who states that the 200 plus schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April from Chibok have been "married off" to Boko Haram fighters.
Since the Nigerian government first announced two weeks ago that they were negotiating with Boko Haram leaders for the release of the schoolgirls, many have questioned the validity of the peace talks. A Saudi Arabian man named Danladi Ahmadu became a central figure in these talks, supposedly representing Boko Haram though his identity had yet to be verified by independent sources, and no one except the Nigerian government seems to trust him. In the video, Shekau states he did not know Danladi and that the peace deals never happened (which might explain why the Islamist insurgents continued their violent campaign during the supposed cease fire). Via News24:
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 said he did not know Danladi.
Shekau previously threatened to sell the girls as slave brides and also suggested 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."
For the most part, it seems like this whole situation has been Boko Haram's word against that of the Nigerian government. But while the Nigerian government must answer to media and other governmental bodies, Boko Haram answers to no one.
The Nigerian government's astounding mishandling of this whole kidnapping situation is due to several reasons, not the least of which is lack of resources and support. But while weeding out militant extremists isn't exactly a walk in the park for developing countries as we have seen over and over again, the government has made it clear that they are intent on keeping up morale, but more importantly saving face in the situation. I may take the terrorists' word on this.
We did not Bring Back Our Girls. But we sure as hell better not forget about them.
Image via AP.