ABUJA, Nigeria — The Nigerian government has reached a deal with the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram to release over 200 school girls that have been held captive for over six months, reports state.
As previously reported, members of Boko Haram stormed an all-girls secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April, kidnapping 276 students while they were taking their final exams. Over 50 girls later escaped, but more than 200 have remained missing.
“They … started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’” one of the abducted teens told the Associated Press about the day she and others were taken captive. “And we knew.”
The teen stated that a number of girls escaped by jumping out of one of the vehicles carrying the students.
“We ran and ran, so fast,” she explained. “That is how I saved myself. I had no time to be scared; I was just running.”
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” the group’s leader, Abubaker Shekau, stated in a video released in May. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. … They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.”
Boko Haram, being translated, means “western education is sinful.” Shekau reiterated the group’s opposition to the West during his statement.
“Western education should end,” he declared. “Girl, you should go and get married.”
International outrage resulted in numerous campaigns calling for the release of the students, including the popular hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, and protests were held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on a regular basis. Efforts to secure the release of the girls have so far been unsuccessful.
However, government officials now state that they have reached a ceasefire and agreement with Boko Haram that will reportedly result in the release of the students.
“They’ve assured us they have the girls and they will release them,” Presidential Aide Hassan Takur told reporters on Friday. “I am cautiously optimistic.”
“A batch of them will be released shortly, and this will be followed by further actions from Boko Haram,” added spokesperson Doyin Okupe. “It is a process. … It is not a question of hours and days.”
Members of Boko Haram met with Nigerian representatives in Chad surrounding the matter last week, and although there are no details available as to what concessions the Nigerian government made in order to secure the release of the girls, the government says that it did not grant any land to the organization.
Boko Haram has been in the headlines for the past five years surrounding its responsibility for numerous violent acts throughout Nigeria that have resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths. According to reports, the group seeks to implement Sharia law in the nation, and is especially hostile toward Christians.
As previously reported, 19-year-old Hajja told Reuters last December that she was held by Boko Haram and told to renounce Christianity or perish. Members of Boko Haram threatened to slit her throat if she did not give up her faith in Christ.
“They told me I must become a Muslim, but I refused again and again,” Hajja said. “They were about to slaughter me, and one of them begged me not to resist and just before I had my throat slit, I relented. They put a veil on me and made me read from the Koran.”
Boko Haram made Hajja a domestic slave. She was forced to clean and prepare meals for the terrorist militia, but later escaped from her captors.
“They want to ‘Islamitize’ Nigeria. That is why they are targeting Christians,” stated Habila Adamu, who was shot in the head after he likewise refused to deny Christ, but miraculously survived. “They wanted me to deny Jesus. We are sinners! We are condemned criminals. We are supposed to die! But He took all these burdens! He paid for our debt! He died for us! Why can I not submit to Jesus? That is what I did. I stood for him!”