Schoolgirls abducted by Nigeria’s Boko Haram group have converted to Islam and been “married off” to militants, according to a new video message.
A man claiming to be the Islamist group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, appeared in the 13-minute video and denied that a truce had been agreed with the government or that Boko Haram had started talks to free the abducted schoolgirls. The Nigerian military has repeatedly said it killed Shekau in its operations against Boko Haram.
“It is a lie and we will never do any peace deal,” the man, wearing camouflage fatigues, said in the video released late yesterday to reporters in the northern city of Kano. “There is not going to be any peace deal even in the future.”
Appearing in the footage with masked gunmen and fighters bearing the group’s trademark black flags showing Arabic slogans, the man said the figure who claimed to represent Boko Haram in talks with the government was an impostor.
Rather than negotiating the schoolgirls’ release as the government has said, the girls have all converted to Islam and “we married them off,” the man said.
“They are in their marital homes,” said the man, speaking in the Hausa language.
Nigerian authorities said on Oct. 17 they had agreed a cease-fire with Boko Haram, a group which President Goodluck Jonathan said has killed more than 13,000 people in its five-year campaign to impose Shariah, or Islamic rule, in Africa’s most populous country and biggest oil producer. Since the announcement, gun and bomb attacks by the insurgents have continued, killing scores in Nigeria’s majority-Muslim north.
SOURCE: Mustapha Muhammad and Michael Olukayode