The Nigerian government Saturday announced that terrorist group Boko Haram had released 82 more “Chibok girls”. The “girls”, who were swapped with Boko Haram prisoners, said presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, would be received at the Presidential Villa by President Muhammadu Buhari this Sunday.
Last October, 21 of the “girls” [they were women anyway, having crossed over age 18] were released in like manner and later reunited with their parents.
Judging by official statements, then, 103 out of 219 of the Chibok girls have so far been freed — on Boko Haram’s own terms.
Doubts about the true story of the abductions of April 14, 2014, have never been so strong. Many are asking: Where have the “girls” been camped all this while, after Sambisa Forest had been overrun? How could a “degraded” Boko Haram have had the capability to house and feed 196 of the women undetected? When did it become state policy to negotiate with terrorists?
Questions and more questions are being asked. And fears are being expressed: What if the released terrorists go back to the trenches? Who are the negotiators that have been taking money from government and giving Boko Haram?
Even the timing of the release is questionable. Is it to divert attention from President Buhari’s health issues? Is it to make the regime look good on its second anniversary on May 29?
What is certain is that Boko Haram has been achieving its objectives. Whenever it needed money, it would release a few of the girls. No fewer than 114 of the Chibok girls have still not been accounted for.
Besides, hundreds of other captives exist; only the Chibok girls are advertised because of the interest of foreign nations. When the young women were allegedly taken to Aso Rock on Sunday, Nigerian journalists were prevented from seeing them or asking them questions. The same thing happened in October, even as the “girls”, who were taking their WASC exams at the time they were kidnapped, couldn’t speak English. Then, there were insinuations they were taken from IDP camps.
Skeptics have yet to be convinced that there was no conspiracy behind the abductions. Some of the young women appeared frail, but some others looked well fed. Nigerians like Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State believe the truth will surface someday.