Having said that, there are some factual observations I want to raise. What you are about to read is completely devoid of any opinion. I am just stating facts. You may not like the facts. You may not even like me. But one thing you cannot do is ignore the fact.
May 5, 2017: 82 Chibok girls were released by Boko Haram to the Nigerian government after negotiations that involved a prisoner swap and according to some news reports also included substantial payments: But questions about this incidence remain.
On May 3, 2017, international news syndicate, AFP News Agency, reported that on Friday April 29, 2017 fighter jets from the Nigerian Airforce had pounded Boko Haram positions in Balla village, which is 25 miles from Damboa, just outside Sambisa Forest. Citing intelligence reports, they reported that the bombing was so intense that several Boko Haram fighters were killed including the group’s deputy leader, Abba Mustapha, alias Malam Abba and another leader, Abubakar Gashua, alias Abu Aisha, described as a key person in the group’s hierarchy.
The Nigerian Air force emailed a statement to the AFP in support of these reports on the same day and said “Battle damage assessment conducted after the strike showed that several leaders of the Boko Haram terrorist organisation and their followers were killed during the attacks”.
Babakura Kolo, a member of the Civilian JTF (a militia registered with the Nigerian government to help in the fight with Boko Haram) testified that “a number of commanders were killed.”
On May 4, 2017, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, released a video denouncing and taunting the Nigerian government over the attack and promising reprisals.
Yet, after this incident on April 29, 2017 that led to the death of their top commanders and many of their foot soldiers, Boko Haram still went on to release 82 Chibok girls to the same Nigerian government that their leader had sworn revenge on exactly a week earlier? Does this add up? Does this gel with reality? Does this even make sense? Is Boko Haram that magnanimous?
On May 7, 2017, when the girls were ferried over to the Nigerian Presidential Villa at Aso Rock, Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, photographs released showed them looking very well fed and robust. In fact, the next day (May 8) Africa’s top blog, Linda Ikeji’s blog published a photo of the released girls side by side with a picture of a woman and her baby in one of the Internally Displaced Persons camp in Borno state for a side by side comparison and these Chibok girls, who had been living rough inside Sambisa forest looked well fed, well groomed and buxom while the woman in the IDP camp looked haggard and hungry. It leaves you questioning who has been in captivity and who has been free. How is this possible?
This is not the first time Chibok girls have been released. Almost exactly a year ago, just a week before the current Nigerian administration marked its first year in office some Chibok girls were also released. Another batch were released in October 2016. The thing is that when these girls are released there is a media blackout on them. No one is allowed near them to interview them.
I understand that they have gone through an ordeal, but Malala also went through a similar or even worse ordeal and no one shielded her from the press. Malala Yousafzai was shot at age 15 by the taliban and left unconscious. She survived and she was threatened by the taliban who threatened to kill her should they catch her. Her case was one of clear and present danger. Yet she was not sequestered from the public even though, like the Chibok girls, her English was not so good at first. In fact, an international press tour was arranged for her placing her on the world stage and kickstarting the activism that earned her a Nobel Prize making her the youngest person ever to be so awarded.
One would have thought that that is what would have played out for the released girls.
Last October, 21 Chibok girls were release by Boko Haram after negotiations. Till date, these girls have been kept from the press. Even their own parents are not allowed access to them according to The New York Times York Times piece on them published on March 11, 2017. The girls are kept in safe house according to the New York Times. During the Christmas holidays they were allowed to visit Chibok but were housed in the home of a “top politician”. Their parents were only allowed to ‘visit them’. Soldiers guarded the girls and after some hours asked the parents of the girls to leave.
On Christmas Day itself, they were denied entry to the politicians house to see their own children and on January 8, 2017 the girls were returned to their safe house and according to the New York Times “Neither the public nor their parents have been able to see them since.”
No one really knows what went on with these girls since their abduction. It is all smoke and mirrors.
These girls are innocent. They did not kidnap themselves. They were pawns in a game whose puppeteers we do not yet know. No one should raise any questions about these girls after what they have been through. But surely we can raise questions about events themselves. Think people. Am I the only one seeing this?
Reno Omokri is a Christian TV talk show host and founder of the Mind of Christ Christian Center and the Helen and Bemigho Sanctuary for orphans. He is the author of three books, Shunpiking: No Shortcuts to God, Why Jesus Wept and Apples of Gold: A Book of Godly Wisdom. His book, Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years: Chibok, 2015 and Other Conspiracies, is set for release in June, 2017.