Boko Haram releases video of missing girls, seeking trade for prisoners
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In Nigeria today, a possible sign of life for the abducted schoolgirls whose fate has captured the world’s attention, and an offer from the leader of Boko Haram to swap the students for prisoners held by the government.
We have a report from Rageh Omaar of Independent Television News.
RAGEH OMAAR: At the very least, this latest video by the Boko Haram shows around 130 girls are alive. The Christian girls amongst them have been forced to abandon their faith and wear Islamic head scarves and gowns and recite verses of the Koran.
As far as one can tell, they are unharmed and well. But there is no mistaking the tense and frightening atmosphere. The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, says he prepared to return them in exchange for captured militant fighters. He’s clearly been following the international concerns surrounding his hostages, expressing bemusement at the global outcry of their plight.
The streets of the capital of Borno state are not safe. There have been suicide bombings and attacks by Boko Haram here, and they have recently targeted the outskirts of the city. I have come to Maiduguri to speak to this man, the governor of Borno, state who’s been dealing with this crisis since day one.
I asked him for his reaction to the latest video.
KASHIM SHETTIMA, Borno State Governor (through interpreter): This forced conversion of these innocent schoolgirls from Christianity, is unacceptable to me as Muslim. I see Shekau as a lunatic. In this age and time, you are talking about selling girls, of selling human beings?
RAGEH OMAAR: The governor believes that it’s Borno’s levels of impoverishment, lack of employment and economic neglect by the central government that has allowed Boko Haram’s violent radical ideology to find followers.
I wanted to see if this crisis had damaged girls education, and unannounced we dropped into a local school. The spontaneous reaction spoke volumes. The reaction here amongst these girls to a completely unannounced visit by the governor just shows you how important they feel their education is.
GIRL: We like to come to school because we want to be educated to help — to help our nation.
GIRL: Education for me is important because I want to have knowledge, and use it after I finish my secondary education.
RAGEH OMAAR: The schoolgirls of Maiduguri are the lucky ones. But, tonight, the hunt for the disappeared girls of Chibok, taken from this school nearly a month ago, continues.