Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group that captured global interest in 2014 when it kidnapped 219 schoolgirls from a Nigerian Town called Chibok, is now demanding a huge ransom for the girls — roughly $50 million.
The Chibok girls’ (as the kidnapped schoolgirls have been nicknamed) kidnapping reached the global stage through the celebrity-backed trending hashtag — #BringBackOurGirls.
From Michelle Obama to Malala Yousafzai, celebrities pledged their support on Twitter to bring back the kidnapped Chibok girls, but that was nearly two years ago, and recent efforts to rescue them have all failed. Boko Haram still holds the 219 schoolgirls of Chibok captive.
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) May 7, 2014
— Girl Up (@GirlUp) May 7, 2014
Previous attempts to save the Chibok girls included the Boko Haram’s demand for the release of jailed comrades — a demand that ultimately fell through because the Nigerian government couldn’t fulfill it. The list of names that the terrorist sect gave Nigeria contained men who were actually not in the government’s custody.
Now, just as the second anniversary of the girls’ abduction — April 14 — approaches, Boko Haram has made a new request of approximately $50 million in exchange for the girls.
This demand is being met by ambivalence on the part of the Nigerian government — on the one hand, they really do want to #BringBackOurGirls and solve the situation at Chibok, but on the other, they do not want to give into the terrorist group’s outrageous demands and give it an upper-hand in all future negotiations.
“The ransom demand has split the government,” a source told the Telegraph. “Some think it would be worth it just to resolve the Chibok situation, but others say it will simply allow Boko Haram to hire yet more insurgent recruits.”
The Nigerian government is clearly reluctant to provide Boko Haram with the ransom of $50 million, because this would only add the terrorist sect’s resources and encourage its growth.
Many of Nigeria’s government officials involved with the Chibok girls’ abduction, who are at the frontlines of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, have ruled out the idea of giving into Boko Haram’s ransom demand.
Not only do many of these officials believe that the giving the terrorist group the ransom it demands would only escalate the situation by making it stronger, but they also dismiss the idea that the only way the Chibok girls can be saved is if Boko Haram willingly return them.
One former Nigerian government adviser who has been working on the Chibok girls’ case since it began, claims that the only way to defeat Boko Haram and #BringBackOurGirls is to work towards the “combat fatigue” of the foot soldiers and others in the lower ranks of the terrorist organization.
This plan of “combat fatigue” again stems from the argument that it is better to drain Boko Haram of its resources to save the Chibok girls and the country, rather than pay them the ransom, which would only make them stronger.
“If you offer Boko Haram fighters camps where they can get shelter, food, clothing and education, you can demobilise them quite quickly, as there are a lot of them who want to give up,” the same adviser to the Telegraph, further explaining the “combat fatigue” plan. “Take away the footsoldiers, and you will also start getting information about where the girls are. Any other way is putting the cart before the horse.”
So — two years on — the Nigerian government is planning to put the horse before the cart, and really drain Boko Haram of its resources to #BringBackOurGirls rather than pay it the heavy ransom of $50 million.
[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]