The Man Who Talks to Boko Haram

ICC Note: Stephen Davis, the Australian who has engaged militant Islamist group Boko Haram to negotiate for release of the more than 200 Chibok girls kidnapped in April 2014 alleges local government sponsorship of Boko Haram. Davis says government officials in Nigeria’s north are paying the jihadist organization to devastate the region killing and abducting Christians so they can make Christian President Goodluck Jonathan look appear on security issues and weak on fighting the insurgency.

3/26/2015 Nigeria (World Watch Monitor) – A year ago April 14, Boko Haram kidnapped 275 girls from the government secondary school in the Christian-dominated town of Chibok, Borno State.

Students reported to the Chibok Government Secondary Boarding School on Sunday, April 13, to take an exam on Tuesday morning, April 15, despite the fact that the government had closed schools across the state because it could not offer protection.

At about 11pm armed Boko Haram insurgents broke into the school. They burned the administration block and classrooms. Dressed in military uniforms, they told the girls that Chibok was under attack but that they were there to protect them. The girls believed them and obeyed their orders to mount the vehicles outside.

Forty three girls escaped, some during the attack at the school; others during the journey to a camp in the Sambisa forest, where the captive girls were initially kept.

One year on, the 232 girls taken that night from Chibok remain in rebel custody. It is not clear where they are being held or what circumstances they had been facing this past year. The first of the babies born to the girls since their captivity arrived in mid-February this year. Four girls who managed to escape after their arrival at the Boko Haram camp reported that they were raped almost on a daily basis. They said those who did not cooperate with the rebels faced severe punishment. Some other girls who were captured before the Chibok girls, and who managed to escape after varying time in captivity, said some girls were killed because they would not renounce their Christian faith.

The Nigerian Government has been under harsh criticism for its handling of the crisis. Critics say it has not done enough to secure the girls’ release or to support their families.

In May last year, news surfaced that an Australian, Stephen Davis, had been negotiating behind the scenes for the release of the girls. Although he secured an agreement to win the release of about 60 girls, the exchange was compromised. In October, there was another glimmer of hope when the government announced it had reached an agreement for the release of the girls. But just as the news broke, fighting intensified and a person claiming to be the leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, whom the military previously had announced was dead, declared in a video released to media there was no deal. “War is what we want,” the speaker said.

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