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Boko Haram ‘Terrorists see Chibok girls as status symbols,’ Former captives reveal

This was disclosed by German journalist, Wolfgang Bauer who visited Nigeria to speak with the some of the sect’s victims.

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According to some former captives of terrorist sect, Boko Haram, the abducted Chibok girls now occupy a special place in the group and owning one of them is a ‘status symbol’.

A cross section of the abducted Chibok girls. play

A cross section of the abducted Chibok girls.

(AFP)

 

This was disclosed by German journalist, Wolfgang Bauer who visited Nigeria to speak with the some of the sect’s victims.

Wolfgang Bauer play

Wolfgang Bauer

(SWR DE)

 

Bauer spoke on his findings during an interview with Deutsche Welle. Excerpts below:

500 days ago today (27.08.2015) 276 girls were kidnapped from Chibok triggering an international outcry. The women you interviewed said that the Chibok girls are now part of a bizarre Boko Haram hierarchy. What can you tell us about this?

I interviewed various women who met some of the Chibok girls while they were in captivity. My impression was that these girls now seem form a sort of palatial corps of domestic servants for the Boko Haram leadership.

Apparently, several Chibok girls are assigned to the favorite wife of the head of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau. I have also heard that the Chibok girls indoctrinate other abductees into Islam and inflict physical violence upon them, even though they themselves are also under surveillance.

Owning a Chibok girl is a status symbol. The reason for is clearly the enormous international media interest in the girls' fate.

You were recently in northern Nigeria where you spoke to women and girls who had been exposed to the horrors of captivity under Boko Haram. What impression did they make on you?

I interviewed these women and girls for two weeks. It was, of course, far more demanding for them than it was for me, but afterwards I, too, was exhausted. The cruelty in all its variations was something I found difficult to fathom. There are very few parts of the world which experience such massive, systematic cruelty as is the case as in northeastern Nigeria.

The Nigerian government has created so-called de-radicalization centers in the south of the country. Is this a step in the right direction? Or does the internment of women who have just escaped from Boko Haram marginalize them still further?

I think the latter is the case. It is difficult to judge from outside what actually goes on in these camps. As far as I am aware, no journalist has been inside one. I suspect that they are actually interrogation centers. Not even close family members are allowed to visit the victims - and how can people be de-radicalized if they are denied contact to those whom they knew before Boko Haram came into their lives? It is a mystery what the Nigerian authorities are doing with these women. I hope we will eventually get more transparency.

In your report, you emphasize that the inner circle of Boko Haram is dominated by the Kanuri ethnic group. One doesn't hear much about them in western media coverage of the conflict. What role does the ethnic dimension play here?

I think this factor has been underestimated. It is not mentioned much in the media, but in academic publications and in the accounts given by the women I interviewed, the ethnic dimension is certainly in evidence. The Kanuri are the backbone of Boko Haram. Before the colonial era, they ruled over an enormous ancient empire and Boko Haram has evidently succeeded in reawakening these old traditions, promising that the empire will one day rise again. This explains why Boko Haram were able to expand to their present size and fend off the Nigerian military.

You have written a very moving, but also a very bleak account of the region terrorized by Boko Haram. You were there, you have spoken to people on the ground. What needs to be done if peace is to return?

That is the big question. After an area of territory has been liberated by the Nigerian army, the villages and ethnic groups mount revenge attacks against one another.

 The military generally leaves the control of villages in the hands of the local militia who want to exact revenge for atrocities committed under Boko Haram. It is therefore vital that not only the military maintain a presence in these regions, but civilian officials as well.

There have to be commissions to promote peace and broker ceasefires. The military should not restrict themselves to patrolling the cities and the main roads; they must enter the villages where revenge attacks are at their fiercest. It would be beneficial if the international community could help the Nigerian military to spread out more. But if Nigeria continues to reject closer international engagement in the conflict - as currently appears to be the case - then such endeavours will only have limited impact.

Is #BringBackOurGirls helping or harming Chibok girls?»

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