One of the escaped schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, whose identity is being protected, shares the story of her capture and escape during a press conference Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP
By Zoe Flood, The Telegraph 3:57PM BST 18 Oct 2014
No wonder I'm going mentally unstable - this just drives me crazy. Zoe Flood begins her article with the above picture and caption of an escaped Chibok girl sharing her story. That's the first and the last you hear of her story. It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't been waiting for months to hear the story of one of the 4 genuine escapees, but I have - then this teaser. Do journalists even think about what they are doing anymore?
Campaigners calling for the release of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls have said they are “cautiously optimistic” about a reported ceasefire between the government and al-Qaeda-linked militants that would include the release of the teenagers abducted by the group. They should be more cautious than optimistic.
Two senior government sources said on Saturday that they hoped the release would be completed by Tuesday. On Friday, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh announced a deal with Boko Haram for a ceasefire that would enable the release of the girls, who have been held since April. But within hours, Boko Haram had already broken the ceasefire, killing at least nine people in two attacks - one on the village of Abadam on Friday night, and another attack on the village of Dzur on Saturday morning.
"I can confirm that FG (the federal government) is working hard to meet its own part of the agreement so that the release of the abductees can be effected either on Monday or latest Tuesday next week," one source told Reuters by telephone.
A second source said: "We have confidence in those we are negotiating with but we are still doing it with considerable caution."
The #BringBackOurGirls coalition in Abuja, the capital of Africa’s largest economy, added that they were waiting for official confirmation from the Nigerian president.
A senior source at the presidency told The Telegraph that the transfer of the abducted schoolgirls – whose kidnap in April sparked global outrage – could take place “as early as next week”.
The ceasefire announcement by Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff came days after protesters marched in Abuja to mark the six-month anniversary of the girls’ abduction.
Armed gunmen from Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 teenagers from the Government Girls' Secondary School in Chibok in the northern Borno state.
The school had been closed for several weeks because of the security situation but the students had returned for exams. Amazingly - without any security!
Some managed to escape, but 219 are believed to remain in captivity.
But observers have expressed skepticism in the absence of a confirmed statement from Abubakar Shekau, the Islamist group’s leader.
The announcement also came as President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to launch his bid for reelection in the February polls.
Shekau last year dismissed a ceasefire deal announced by the Nigerian government, stating that whoever had negotiated it did not represent him. Which begs the question - who were they negotiating with - maybe themselves?
Nigerian government spokesman Mike Omeri acknowledged that there had been a false alarm about a deal with Boko Haram last year, but added that this ceasefire had been confirmed by both military and presidency officials. Good grief! That makes it twice as unlikely in my book.
“We are very sure that the path to peace has opened and are optimistic about the direction of discussions,” he told The Telegraph, in reference to ongoing talks between the government and the Islamist group, reportedly mediated by the Chadian president.
Mr Omeri also confirmed that the military have ceased operations against the extremists, amid speculation of a possible prisoner swap for the release of the schoolgirls and other Boko Haram hostages.
In the kidnapped girls’ hometown, reactions were muted, but hopeful.
"We don't know how true it is until we prove it," said Bana Lawan, chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, told the Associated Press.
"We will know the negotiations were successful when we see the girls physically. And then we will know it is true. And then we will celebrate." Good plan! Let's pray for the girl's return, and trust God for it to happen, but don't trust the Nigerian government or military to tell us the truth.