BORNO, Nigeria (BP) — More than 200 Christian girls Boko Haram kidnapped a month ago from a state school are not the same girls shown in a ransom video the terrorists released, Nigerian relations expert Adeniyi Ojutiku told Baptist Press today (May 13).
When the Borno state government shared copies of the video with the parents of the kidnapped teenagers, none of the parents could find their children in the video, Ojutiku said he learned from the Borno government.
“They are not the same. They are not the girls abducted,” said Ojutiku, a Southern Baptist in Raleigh, N.C., who receives frequent updates from members of the grassroots group Lift Up Now. He co-founded the group to address political, economic and social challenges in his homeland Nigeria.
More likely, the Monday (May 12) video is a ruse by the Islamic terrorists to mislead those searching for the girls, Ojutiku said.
“That video says nothing about the abducted girls, except for the fact it is propaganda,” Ojutiku said. “It is a lie to make the world believe that the girls are still together, and also to throw everybody off in terms of where they are, because people are looking at the vegetation. They are looking at the environment.”
Also, Boko Haram’s claim that the girls depicted in the video have just converted to Islam does not appear credible, Ojutiku said.
“The people [in Borno] are saying that the recitation of the Quran by those girls does not depict people who are new to the faith of Islam,” Ojutiku said. “From the recitation, there is indication that those groups of girls have been in Islam for a long time, because the inflection, the way they recite it … the intonation and all that, does not depict … people who are new to the Quran. The girls recite the chant with more fluidity, with [a] better grasp of the chant. And their voice inflections indicate that they are not new to that chant.”
Boko Haram presented about 130 girls dressed in Muslim attire and reciting verses from the Quran in a video leaked to Associated French Press (AFP). A man identifying himself as Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered the safe return of the girls in exchange for the release of hundreds of Boko Haram members imprisoned in Nigeria.
The video was released just as the search for the girls is intensifying. The U.S., among many nations assisting Nigeria in the hunt for the girls, was flying “manned” missions over Nigeria Monday as part of the search, according to AFP.
As of Monday, U.S. officials told AFP there was no reason to question the video’s authenticity, but the situation is developing.
“Our intelligence experts are combing through every detail of the video for clues that might help ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls,” AFP quoted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki Monday.
The U.S. sent a 30-member team to Nigeria last week to assist in the search of about 223 girls who were kidnapped from the Government Girls State School in Chibok, a town believed to be almost entirely Christian.
Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).