The Nigerian Government has been ‘claiming’ that it has agreed a ceasefire deal with the terrorist group, Boko Haram, tormenting the country’s North. A Presidential aide, Mr Doyin Okupe told CNN on Oct 17th that the Nigerian Government is committed to the deal negotiated with the help of the PM of Chad, which will involve the release of the 219 schools girls abducted from Chibok, Born State more than 200 days ago.
The funny thing about this so called peace deal which the Nigerian Government claimed to have negotiated with Boko Haram is that the terrorist sect never responded or confirmed that any peace deal had been made, and the attacks from them continued as if nothing had happened. Also, the Chibok girls have not still been released since the deal was announced on Oct 17th. So, I wasn’t surprised when the Boko Haram leader released a video today, claiming that No peace deal was negotiated and it was a lie. He further added that the abducted girls, majority of whom were Christians have been converted to Islam and had been married of as he had earlier promised. These were his exact words:
“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.
Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorised two chapters of the Koran. We have married them off . They are in their marital homes, ”
Not only did Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader rubbish the claims of a peace deal, he further ruled out any future talks. But anyone who has been following the developments on ground in Nigeria will immediately sense that something is very wrong! Abubakar Shekau is supposed to be dead. The Nigerian Army has claimed to have killed him years ago and even the ‘Abubakar Shekau’ they killed this year, they claim he was an impostor. Shortly after they killed the ‘impostor’, Boko Haram released another video still showing Abubakar Shekau.
In my own opinion, I believe the Nigerian Army that Shekau is dead because I’ve seen the comparison of the images of the three Shekaus and there appear to have differences in the head structures and faces even though they do look alike. I believe this is a propaganda strategy by the Boko Haram to make people keep believing that their leader, Shekau is alive. I believe he’s dead, the only thing fuelling a little doubt is that his body was never recovered by Nigerian troops.
Back to the issue of the cease fire deal which Boko Haram denied. The Nigerian Government can not just announce that it had a cease fire agreement with the group and order the military to abide by it if actually no deal was agreed. This led me to draw a conclusion that Boko Haram has possibly splintered into factions since the absence of a central leader. The Nigerian Government might have made the negotiations with one of the factions. Or there is also a slim possibility that Boko Haram actually agreed a deal with the Government and is now denying it. I however think this is very unlikely.
I am concerned about the 219 school girls who still remain in Boko Haram’s custody. Despite everything the Government has said and done and all the demonstrations both online and on ground, the girls are still with this terrorists who claim to have married them off. The case of these girls generated a lot of international attention but it is however not the only case of abductions and human trafficking that Boko Haram has been involved in. The group kidnapped about 67 people from Adamawa state in Northern Nigeria last month.
A New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report this week that Boko Haram was holding upwards of 500 women and young girls and that forced marriage was commonplace in the group’s camps. This is something that the Nigerian Government must do anything possible to stop. It is a great human rights injustice for anyone to be taken against their will and forced to do things against their belief.