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Boko Haram video: 77 of the abducted schoolgirls identified parents

By The Rainbow
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• Watch moving identification of students on Arise TV

Some of the heart-broken parents of the abducted girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok on Tuesday were consoled by a measure in the fact that their wards are still alive in the hands of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents.

The parents and classmates of the kidnapped schoolgirls had converged on the Government House, Maiduguri, Borno State, to identify the girls who were shown in a video released by Boko Haram on Monday.

According to reports, the exercise which was painstaking and lasted throughout the day and last night was able to identify 77 of the abducted girls who featured in the video.

Shortly after the terror sect released the video, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, had directed that it should be reproduced and distributed so that the parents of the girls could identify their daughters.

This Day reports that for other parents who could not identify their daughters, the pain and sorrow continued, with speculation rising that some of the girls who appeared in the video may have been kidnapped before April 14 from other communities in Borno.

The leader of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, had released a video on Monday showing over a hundred of the kidnapped girls who are believed to have been abducted from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, a month ago.

He had said that the girls, all dressed in the Muslim hijab and reciting verses of the Qu'ran, would only be released if the federal government accepts to exchange them for members of his sect who have been in government detention facilities for years.

But the United States Government, Senate President David Mark and Nigeria-Americans resident in the US rejected the prisoner exchange deal offered by Shekau for the return of the schoolgirls.

The US, however, said it would respect the wishes of the federal government if it elects to go ahead to negotiate for the release of the girls.

Mark, on the other hand, rejected it outright, saying negotiating with the terrorists would not serve any purpose and would give them room to wreak more havoc on both the country and its people.

But the lack of consensus in government circles, which was evident on Monday when the video was released, continued yesterday when the Minister of Special Duties and Chairman of the presidential committee on reconciliation with Boko Haram, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, said the government was ready to negotiate with the terrorists on the release of the schoolgirls.

The minister said if Shekau is sincere, he should send representatives for talks, adding: “He should send people he trusts to meet the standing committee on reconciliation.”

Notwithstanding the mixed signals from government, the rescue effort for the girls gathered pace with the deployment of manned surveillance aircraft to the North-east.

Also, a meeting between the Commander of United States African Command (US-AFRICOM), Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, who arrived the country Monday, and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh and other military top brass, took place yesterday to discuss wide-ranging security issues, with particular reference to the kidnapped students.

Shettima: 77 Girls Have Been Identified
Speaking on the abducted students, the Borno State governor Tuesday confirmed that the girls shown in the video released by the terrorists, comprise some of those who were forcibly taken away from the Government Secondary School, Chibok on April 14.

In a statement issued by his media aide, Isa Gusau, Shettima said: “Fifty-four of the girls in the video were identified by their names in an exercise that involved some parents of the girls, fellow students that include escapees from abduction, some teachers, security men and some officials of the Borno State Government led by the Chief of Staff to the Government House, Abubakar Kyari.”

He said the parents and students were conveyed to the Government House in Maiduguri to make for an open identification exercise.

The governor, who spoke after a peaceful procession by a coalition of civil society bodies and activists under the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Abuja, also expressed confidence that the figure of those identified by their names was climbing, as the exercise was ongoing at the Government House, Maiduguri.

Shettima said he was being briefed every 30 minutes, and that initial findings confirmed 36 names, but a second exercise confirmed the names of 54 girls.

The following names of schoolgirls were verified from the video: Agnes Gafane, Saraya Stober, Hauwa Bitrus, Hajara Isa, Na'omi Philimun, Hauwa Abdu (the first girl that spoke in the video recording), Magret Yama, Shitta Abdu, Jummai Muta, Ladi Paul, Roda Peter, Filo Dauda, Godiya Bitrus, Saratu Tauji (the second girl shown speaking in the video) and Rose Daniel.

Other names were Hauwa Ali, Hajara Isa (Amira speaking third girl in the video), Luba Afga, Na'omi Luka, Saraya Emos Ali, Bilkisu Abdullahi, Mairama Ali, Maryam Ali Maiyanga, Dabora Abbas, Kabu Mala, Halima Ali and Yana Bukar.

In addition, the names of Solomi Pugu, Lydia Emmar, Luba Sanda, Saraya Samuel, Comfort Habila, Rejoice Shanki, Gloria Yaga, Mary Nkeki, Moda Baba, Hauwa Isuwa, Patient Jacob, Ladi Jajel, Abigel Bukar, Fanta Lawan, Zainabu Yaga and Aisha Lawan Zanna, were identified by either their parents or officials of Borno State Government.

Other girls' names included Dokas Yakubu, Kabu Mala, Maryama Bashir, Hauwa M. Maina, Mary G. Dauda, Susana Yakubu, Maryam Abbas, Laraba John, Hanatu Nuhu, Na'omi Bukar and Rifkatu Galang.

The statement from the governor said the names of those identified were being compared with school records as well as names published a few days ago to ensure accuracy.

“The exercise continues at the Government House and it is hoped that more names will be established by parents, students and teachers as well as management of the affected school,” it added.

By press time, the Borno State Government issued another statement confirming that 23 more girls had been identified by their parents, officials of the state and Chibok school officials, bringing the total number of identified girls on the list to 77.

Although the state government did not release the names of the 23 new names, it said an update on the identification exercise of all the girls in the video as well as verification with school records would continue throughout the night and an update would be released today.

But as the Borno State Government tried to establish the identity of the girls in the video, the US, the senate president and Nigeria-Americans resident in the US rejected the prisoner exchange deal offered by Shekau for the return of the schoolgirls.

The US, however, said it would respect the wishes of the federal government if it elects to go ahead to negotiate for the release of the girls.

Speaking in Washington DC, Ms. Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the State Department, condemned the swap offer, stressing that the United States' policy was to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, including ransoms or concessions.

Her words: “In terms of the question you had about the reports of a trade offer, as you know, Nigeria is in the lead. We are simply supporting their efforts.

“We, as you know also, our policy is to deny. The United States' policy, I should say, is to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, including ransoms or concessions.”

However, adopting a more hawkish stance than the US, Mark said yesterday in Beijing, the Chinese capital, that Nigeria would not negotiate with Boko Haram or any other terrorist group.

The senate president, who spoke to journalists, said the federal government would ensure the safe return of the girls.

“Nigeria will not negotiate with terrorists under any circumstance. If we negotiate with them, they will get a few more people and then we begin to negotiate again.

“You do not negotiate with criminals; you do not negotiate with terrorists. We are going to bring the girls back safe and sound, every effort will be made to rescue them.

“For a criminal to parade himself and be asking for negotiations, I think that is the height of insult on any nation,” he was reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as stating.

Mark said the insurgency had persisted because government had initially taken the insurgents for granted.

“We had assumed that they were just Nigerians and so we treated them with kid's gloves. We perhaps didn't realise on time that they had international connections.

“It is clear to everyone now that they are not just restricted to Nigeria.”

He reiterated that since the terrorists had declared war on Nigeria, no effort should be spared in dealing with them.

He promised that the National Assembly would review the Anti-terrorism Act with a view to tightening and strengthening weak areas.

Mark called on Nigerians to brace up and join government in the fight to end the insurgency in the country.

“Nigerians must see this insurgency as a battle and a war on Nigeria, and they must not leave it to only those in uniforms.

“Whether you are in Chibok or Lagos or Sokoto, it is clear that all of us must get involved and we must fight it with all our might and strength,'' he charged.

He said he was delighted that the Chinese government had said it was ready to cooperate with and support Nigeria to fight the insurgents.

Mark, who is on a two-day visit to China, rounded up the visit with a ride on one of the country's high speed trains to Tianjin province.

Marks position was re-echoed by the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, who reiterated his stance on Monday that the federal government would not negotiate with Boko Haram.

He told the BBC that the government would not agree to any kind of exchange. “As far as this government is concerned, the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken arms against the country… is not on the table,” he said.

Similarly, Nigerian-Americans yesterday rejected the exchange of detained Boko Haram terrorists for the abducted schoolgirls.

However, while the Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP International, USA) and the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN) rejected Shekau's offer, the Association of Nigerian Women Academic Doctors (ANWAD) asked the federal government to liaise with intelligence experts to what was necessary to ensure that the girls are rescued and reunited with their parents.

According to CANAN, “We are not opposed to political settlement. CANAN supports whatever it takes to get these girls back safely and alive to their families. The safety of the girls is the most vital issue at hand now.

“What benefit would negotiations with Boko Haram confer? It is well known that democratic governments do not negotiate with terrorists, as this will be deemed a reward for their evil. Rewarding evil is a misnomer and wherever and whenever it is done, it can never last.”

ANWAD President Henrietta Okoro, an associate professor in a Maryland-based university, said: “ANWAD is imploring the federal government of Nigeria and the international community to do what it takes to get these girls back safely and alive to their families.

“The safety of the girls is the most vital issue at hand now.  ANWAD is imploring the federal government of Nigeria and the international community to seek the services of military intelligence experts across the world on this very urgent issue and “#BringBackOurGirls.”

Anslem John-Miller, who also spoke to THISDAY on behalf Ogoni professional in the US, said while the council supports the release of the girls, “the body of Ogoni professionals appeals to the Nigerian government not to negotiate with the terrorist, Abubakar Shekau and his terrorist organisation Boko Haram because doing so will embolden this group that has committed heinous crimes against humanity”.

John-Miller expressed sadness that a terrorist group that had inflicted so much harm on Nigerians was coming through the backdoor for negotiations.

1.     Agnes Gafane
2.     Saraya Stober
3.      Hauwa Bitrus
4.     Hajara Isa
5.    Na'omi Philimun
6.     Hauwa Abdu (1st Speaking)
7.      Magret Yama
8.      Shitta Abdu
9.      Jummai Muta
10.    Ladi Paul
11.    Roda Peter
12.     Filo Dauda
13.    Godiya Bitrus
14.    Saratu Tauji (2nd Speaking)
15.    Ross Daniel
16.     Hauwa Ali
17.     Hajara Isa (Amira 3rd Speaking)
18.    Luba Afga
19.    Na'omi Luka
20.    Saraya Emos Ali
21.     Bilkisu Abdullahi
22.     Mairama Ali
23.      Maryam Ali Maiyanga
24.      Dabora Abbas
25.       Kabu Mala
26.       Halima Ali
27.          Yana Bukar
28.         Solomi Pugu
29.         Lydia Emmar
30.         Luba Sanda
31.   Saraya Samuel
32.         Comfort Habila
33.           Rejoice Shanki
34.        Gloria Yaga
35.     ‎Mary Nkeki
36.          Moda Baba
37.           Hauwa Isuwa
38.           Patient Jacob
39.           Ladi Jajel
40.            Abigel Bukar
41. Fanta Lawan
42.       Zainabu Yaga
43.     Aisha Lawan Zanna
44.          Dokas Yakubu
45.        Kabu Mala
46.         Maryama Bashir
47.      Hauwa M. Maina
48.     Mary  G. Dauda
49.      Susana Yakubu
50.        Maryam Abbas
51.  Laraba John
52.     Hanatu Nuhu
53.        Na' omi Bukar
54.       Rifkatu Galang