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Ahmad Sakilda, a freelance journalist and blogger with links to the dreaded Boko Haram sect, stirred the hornet’s nest when he divulged on social media that only thirty out of the over a hundred abducted Chibok school girls in captivity are still alive. He went further to say that out of these thirty school girls that are alive, some have either become wives of Boko Haram commanders, or are suffering from the effects of Stockholm Syndrome, having clearly expressed a desire not to return home. This revelation which coincided with the fourth anniversary of the girls abduction, sparked national outrage and triggered a media firestorm in which social commentators debated the veracity of his claims and the government’s response to it.

A close scrutiny of the messenger reveals that he is a reputable journalist who has had stints with several reputable local and international media houses in times past, and was not found wanting in any way in the discharge of his duties. UAE based Sakilda who hails from Borno, has credible links to the sect and has been involved in efforts by the government in times past to secure the release of the girls. He has no record of giving false information to the public on the issue of Boko Haram. Except he was deliberately misled by elements in the group, his message seems credible.

Some of the released Chibok girls confessed that many of their colleagues have died through bombs, gunfire or snake bites. An attestation of this claim is the fact that some of the released girls came back on crutches, while others had varying degrees of injuries on their bodies. It is an impossibility that with the heavy bombardment of Sambisa Forest by our security forces most especially since the inception of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, that some of the abducted girls would not have have been victims of collateral damage.

Information gleaned from videos released by the sect, revealed that some of the girls have been indoctrinated by the Haramists and have now become militants themselves. This makes them legitimate targets of the Nigerian military in the insurgency war.

It is a logical assumption that if Shekau still had over a hundred girls in his custody, he would not have hesitated to use them as a bargaining chip either for the release of his captured lieutenants and money, or for some respite from heavy bombardments by the Nigerian military.

Undoubtedly, the girls are not with the Mamman Nur faction of Boko Haram because they could have easily traded them for the release of their captured comrades and money, rather than kidnapping school girls in Dapchi, Yobe State.

The logistical challenge of taking care of over 200 girls, coupled with the ineptitude and nonchalance of the previous government towards securing their release, might have forced the sect into selling some of the girls into slavery. Remember, Shekau boasted in the video released in the aftermath of the abduction, that he was going to sell the girls. Also, they could have been used as human shields during exchange of gunfire with the military.

What the government needs to do is to ask Boko Haram to provide a proof-of-life of the remaining over a hundred school girls in order to refute the claims made by Sakilda. The lame response of the government on this issue would not suffice. In the event that the girls are truly dead, the government should not be economical with the truth but should say it the way it is. That way the parents of the missing girls can experience closure knowing that they will never see their children again this side of the world.

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