News regarding the 234 missing Nigerian school girls is slow to trickle in, but new reports are suggesting the missing were sold as brides to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira, or $12.
According to the Washington Post:
Village elder Pogo Bitrus told Agence France Presse locals had consulted with “various sources” in the nation’s forested northeast. “From the information we received yesterday from Cameroonian border towns our abducted girls were taken… into Chad and Cameroon,” he said, adding that each girl was sold as a bride to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira.
The news of the mass marriage come from a group of fathers, uncles, cousins, and nephews who gather every morning to pool their resources, buy fuel, and journey unarmed to forests and border towns in search of the missing girls. They learned this week, they said, that mass wedding ceremonies had occurred on Saturday and Sunday. The insurgents reportedly shot their guns into the air after taking their new brides, and split them into three groups. They were then reportedly moved out by truckload.
The newspaper, however, could not independently verify the claims. The Nigerian defense ministry has also yet to respond to the allegations.
If you recall, the young girls, who have been missing for nearly three weeks, were likely kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The group has staged a wave of attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years, with an estimated 1,500 killed in the violence and subsequent security crackdowns this year alone. But the group has yet to claim responsibility for the kidnapping.
Meanwhile, family and friends gather daily to hear news of the girls’ whereabouts, urging President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration to do more. On Wednesday, about 500 organizers marched to the National Assembly to hand over a letter demanding that the security forces be given more resources and that the missing daughters are returned home.
The women, gathering from Borno state, home of the secondary school the girls were taken from, to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, denounced the government’s lack of response in the wake of the kidnapping.
“May God curse every one of those who has failed to free our girls,” Enoch Mark, whose daughter and two nieces were among the kidnapped, told the Guardian.
But news of the mass marriage is not the only information regarding the whereabouts of the missing.
Nigeria’s Channel 4 News on Tuesday reported that a hostage negotiator has been in contact with the kidnappers and “the girls, we believe, are alive but they have been moved from the location to which they were originally taken,” the negotiator said. “It would not be hard to engineer a deal. It looks like they want to release them.” The same negotiator cautioned though that “kidnappers have warned, however, that attempts by the military to launch a rescue attempt ‘may result in the deaths of many of the captives.’”
The negotiations, however, have not been confirmed.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest in this tragic situation. To follow along with search efforts, or to start a conversation about the missing girls, remember to use the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls, #Bringbackourdaughters or #HelpTheGirls.