The terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, on Monday claimed responsibility for the April 14 abduction of over 267 pupils of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State.
The Agence France-Presse quoted the leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, as making the claim in a video the agency said it obtained.
Shekau, in the video, also threatened to sell off the abducted girls in defiance of international outrage that greeted the kidnapping of the girls from their hostel.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the seizure of the girls barely 24hours after President Goodluck Jonathan told the nation that no group had claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Also, the President’s wife, Patience, has expressed doubt about the authenticity of the kidnapping.
“We the Nigerian women are saying that no child is missing in Borno State. If any child is missing, let the governor go and look for them. There is nothing we can do again,”Mrs Jonathan told the women who met with her in the Presidential Villa on Monday.
But, Shekau was quoted to have said, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”
He spoke just as the Daily Telegraph of London reported that a former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is now a UN special envoy on education, led calls for Western governments to assist with the rescue of the girls.
According to the report, a Foreign Office spokesman said the government was in talks with the Nigerian government and ‘security services’ but declined to say if that might include Special Forces, such as the SAS.
The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, over the weekend also promised America’s help.
He said, “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice.”
When one of our correspondents contacted the Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen Chris Olukolade, he said that the military authorities had not seen the said video.
He said that even if there was such a video, the claim would have to be verified.
Olukolade added that the military had been treating all claims and pieces of information relating to the abduction of the schoolgirls with the deserved seriousness.
The Defence spokesman added,“On the so- called video or message from the terrorists, let me reiterate the fact that the military is taking every information or claims on this abduction with due seriousness.
“This claim will also be studied although it will not distract the ongoing search.”
It was however learnt that the Nigerian military had been working on an intelligence report that efforts were being made to get all the students that registered for the Senior Secondary Examination in Chibok, out of Borno State.
A source said that the move was part of a conspiracy to frustrate government investigation into the incident.
The BBC, also citing the video obtained by the AFP, also quoted Shekau as saying the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.
“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said.
Assurances from President Goodluck Jonathan have done little to convince Nigerians of the government’s commitment to freeing the girls.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has attacked numerous places of worship and educational institutions in northern Nigeria.
The Associated Press said it was unclear whether the video was made before or after reports last week that some of the girls had been forced to marry their abductors, who paid a nominal bride price of N200.
Others are reported to have been taken across borders into Cameroon and Chad.
The girls were in their final year of school, most of them aged 16 to 18.
Shekau in the 57-minute video also insisted that the girls were no better than the “booty of war.”
The terrorist, who is currently on the most wanted list of both Nigerian and the US governments, said the abducted schoolgirls were no more than slaves that he could choose whatever he wanted to do with them.
He admitted that the girls had sent over 20 days in his custody and that he had not treated them any better than the “booty of war.”
Shekau who did not display the girls throughout the recording, said, “We would also give their hands in marriage because they are our slaves. We would marry them out at the age of nine. We would marry them out at the age of 12,” it depends on “our choice”.
The terrorist leader, who spoke in Hausa and Arabic languages interchangeably, noted that the girls were captured because they were seeking Western education.
“Western education is sin, it is forbidden, and women must go and marry,” he said.
The video, which had been sent to local journalists via electronic mail, could not however be independently verified. Agency report