Boko Haram terrorists have abducted not less than 1,000 children in the North-East of Nigeria since 2013, according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
Speaking in commemoration of the 4th year anniversary of the kidnap of the Chibok schoolgirls, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, also said about 2,295 teachers had so far been killed by the insurgents with more than 1,400 schools destroyed.
EduCeleb.com recalls that Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped 276 girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State on 14th April, 2018.
Of that number, 163 are now free: 57 fled in the early days after their abduction, three more escaped later, and a Swiss-coached mediation team secured 103.
While their arrival was being awaited, the insurgents abducted 110 students of Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state, in February, and released them a month later, with the exception of Leah Sharibu and five others who reportedly died in captivity.
“The four-year anniversary of the Chibok abduction reminds us that children in northeastern Nigeria continue to come under attack at a shocking scale,” Fall said in a statement on UNICEF website.
“They are consistently targeted and exposed to brutal violence in their homes, schools and public places.”
UNICEF said the Dapchi abduction is the latest indication that “there are few safe spaces left for children in the north-east”, adding that “Not even schools are spared from violence”.
“These repeated attacks against children in schools are unconscionable. Children have the right to education and protection, and the classroom must be a place where they are safe from harm.”
Fall added that UNICEF stands with the Nigerian government in its commitment to make schools safer and more resilient to attack through the Safe schools initiative.
“UNICEF is appealing for an end to attacks on schools and all grave violations of children’s rights,” he said.
Only 15 of the Chibok girls are alive
In a related development, a journalist, Ahmad Salkida has claimed that only 15 of the remaining Chibok girls are still alive.
Mr Salkida is known to have access to Boko Haram. He took to his Twitter handle, to say that many of the girls had died as a result of crossfires from security forces that were supposed to rescue them.
Salkida said those of the girls still alive are no longer under the control of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.
According to him, they have been married off, adding that their fate and can only be determined by their husbands.
He explained that no negotiation, including ransom, could secure their release, except they are divorced from their husbands.
“Today, my painstaking investigations on the #Chibokschoolgirls revealed that just a handful of the 113 #ChibokGirls are alive,” Salkida said.
“Many of the girls have died as a result of cross fires and bombardments of the security forces that no doubt were intent on rescuing them. I regret to state here that only 15 out of the 113 #Chibokgirls are alive today, based on my investigations in the last three months.
“What is the status of the remaining 15 girls as far as negotiations are concerned? My investigations also revealed that, they are no longer under the control of #AbubakarShekau. According to sources, they are now ‘married’ and only their ‘husbands’ can decide their fates.
“If they are divorced or the men are killed that is when Shekau’s decision takes precedence, and in this instance, since the girls have been indoctrinated, their leader has no right to negotiate for their release, no matter the ransom offered, reliable multiple sources said.
“The way out for these girls, is a military rescue or negotiate wt individual captors to release their ‘wives’ in return for some kind of deal, but this will mean death to these fighters bcz the terror group now sees the girls as part of their own and must be protected.”
Salkida said it was “unbearable” to release the names of the 15 girls, adding that it is the responsibility of the government to do so.
He asked the government to prove his claims wrong or stop negotiating the release of girls “that don’t exist”.
“It will be unbearable to share the names of the 15 that are alive here, this is the responsibility of Govt,” he said.
“When I was involved I regularly provided proof of life. Govt must demand that to prove me wrong or stop negotiating for many of the girls that don’t exist.
“My heartfelt condolences to the parents of the near 100 that have perished or have not returned home and apparently not with their captors. But you must always remember that your daughters were stronger than the rest of us that couldn’t do more to avert this catastrophe,” he said.