Nigeria (MNN/WWM) — 276 schoolgirls from Nigeria were abducted in April by Boko Haram. After more than 180 days in captivity and a long deafening silence of limited information, word has come: the Nigerian government and Islamists signed a ceasefire agreement, and there is hope that the girls will be released as early as Monday.
As there has been little information about the girls, there have been presumptions that some of them were forced into slavery or into marriage. It is known that a few girls escaped, but still over 200 girls are still in captivity.
CNN reported that a man who claimed to be the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the girls into slavery, saying, “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
However, during the negotiations for the ceasefire, Danladi Ahmadu, who says he is the Boko Haram’s secretary-general, said that the girls were in good condition and unharmed.
The Nigerian chief of defence, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, made the announcement. Boko Haram has remained silent, causing worries and doubt by some.
World Watch Monitor reports that this is not the first negotiation of returning the girls. In May, an Australian mediator named Stephen Davis came within 15 minutes of winning the release of some of the girls before the deal dissolved.
Davis reported that he had contacts among the militants and made calls asking if they had the girls, which they confirmed. Davis told the president he would attempt to intervene and help the girls get out.
The Boko Haram commanders and Davis came to an agreement which included a list of conditions. They wanted the Nigerian military to stand down; then they promised to drop the girls in a village before phoning to give their exact location.
24 hours before the promised release, the Nigerian police offered a reward of several million Naira. This seemed to have set off reverberations within Boko Haram, and the day after, the girls were not released
Davis told World Watch Monitor that there are politicians involved with the Boko Haram and that “the political sponsors are very powerful because they supply the finances and the arms. Until these are cut off from the group, those girls will not be released.”
Davis says he prefers to wait and see what happens because he doesn’t trust the Nigerian politicians.
CNN reports analyst Richard Joseph from the Brookings Institution saying, “This is a case when we will actually need to see the girls emerging from their six-month confinement before we can truly believe.”
Open Doors USA asks for prayer that the Lord will, in His time, allow the girls to be released and that He will protect them. Finally, pray that the girls’ faith will be an example to others and to their captors.