The Nigerian government has, for the first time, disclosed its failure to secure the release of girls kidnapped by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram from the northern town of Chibok in April 2014. On 16 September, Nigeria said that negotiations have gone on since July 2015, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari took office.

Three times the negotiations were derailed, once at the last minute even after the president had agreed to free imprisoned Boko Haram fighters. Another time, talks failed because key members of Boko Haram’s negotiating team were killed.

President Buhari, criticised by parents and activists, appealed for the parents’ trust.

In August, Boko Haram released a video which appeared to show some of the 218 girls looking physically weak and traumatised. It showed a masked man demanding the release of militants in exchange, and one girl, who calls herself Maida Yakubu, asking her parents to appeal to the government.

Maida’s mother Esther reacted to this latest government statement: “There had been such promises since Day 1 of the abduction up till today… If I see my baby back, I hold her in my arms, we embrace each other, then fine. But for now, I don’t think so”.

Most girls were Christian and were reportedly forcibly converted to Islam. It’s feared that many have been sexually abused and forced into “marriage” by their captors. A report, ”Our Bodies, their Battleground”, detailed this kind of treatment of minority Christians in northern Nigeria going back to 1999.

Source: New York Times