Nigeria has been the focus of international criticism for the way it handled Boko Haram’s abduction of over 200 young women in April. Responding to the criticism, Nigeria has revealed that the location of the girls is now known. The Defense Ministry of Nigeria assured grieving parents that although this was good news, the military would not risk using force to rescue the girls. As rescue attempts progressed, in a rare display of retaliation, Nigerian women from Kawuri and Attagara turned vigilante, as civilians lynched the militants to death.
BBC was the first to report a negotiation concerning the release of some of the girls in exchange for the arrested militants from the Boko Haram sect. The deal, however, fell apart as the government refused to give in to the demands. BBC also reported that an unknown source met the leaders of the Boko Haram and visited the place where the girls were held. It was reported that the deal in question, the exchange, called for the release of 100 Boko Haram militants taken prisoners for 50 girls. For reasons unknown, the Nigerian government, under President Goodluck Jonathan’s directives, refused to negotiate. Goodluck was in Paris discussing search attempts and requesting for international aid last week.
While Nigeria is under immense pressure to deal with the situation, rescue attempts are in full swing by the government. The death toll has been rising ever since the Boko Haram began its reign of violence in Nigeria in 2009. The attacks on security forces, government officials and civilians have not ceased since Goodluck ordered the Boko Haram to be flushed out. Defending Nigeria’s plan of action in the whole debacle, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, the Chief of Defense Staff, assured anxious parents in an interview with Radio Nigeria that although he could not disclose the location, the whereabouts of the girls has been identified. Advising against the use of brute force to storm the girls out of captivity, Badeh addressed the pressing concerns demonstrators had regarding the issue. A group of demonstrators marched up to Abuja, questioning the role of the military in the rescue mission. Baden decided against the use of force, citing the safety of the girls. He stated that the Nigerian military, who had the support and empowerment of President Goodluck, knew what it was doing. It is presumed the girls, who are mainly Christian, are being held in captivity in the forests of northeast Borno, bordering Cameroon and Chad. While the Nigerian government refused to negotiate, the Ministry of Information insisted alternatives were still up for discussion.
With news reports on rescue attempts showing promise, the women of Nigeria faced the Boko Haram in a rare display of civilian vigilante activity. Residents of Kawuri and Attagara villages from the Bama and Gwoza areas of Borno, stalled and killed the militants who attacked the women with sticks as they drove on motorcycles. Trying to beat the women with sticks, the insurgents faced an unexpected twist. Alerting the locals, seven militants were killed by the villagers, as three others fled the scene. Vigilante youth from the active Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), a select group of 500 informants to the police and military force, lynched scores of Boko Haram members to death. The youth who form the JTF come from the 15 wards of Maiduguri and have been active since 2013. Mallam Mamman Yakubu 22, a JTF member, confirmed the killing of many insurgents who tried to attack the villages. He could not confirm any arrests, for the militants are known to avoid revealing any information under arrest. Unnamed security sources confirmed that three dead militants were found the previous morning, while many more were killed as they attempted to flee the Sambisa Forest.
With countries like the U.K., France, the Netherlands and the U.S. continuing to assist Nigeria in the rescue attempts, the women of Nigeria have taken on the fight against the Boko Haram, effectively adding their support to the war against terror. Residents of Chibok are scoffing at Alex Badeh’s comments as the Boko Haram continue their death spree, killing 33 security personnel in two separate attacks on Monday this week. Reports on Wednesday confirmed that the Islamist terrorist sect killed 18 soldiers at a military base and 15 policemen at a police station in Buni Yadi, a town in the Yobe state of north-eastern Nigeria.
By Rathan Paul Harshavardan