NIGERIA: Kidnapped schoolgirls 'forced to marry captors'

[30 April 2014] - Girls and young women who were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are reportedly being paid to marry their captors, according to a civic organisation.

Parents say the girls are being given 2,000 naira (£7) to marry Boko Haram militants, according to Halite Aliyu of the Borno-Yobe People's Forum.

“The latest reports are that they have been taken across the borders, some to Cameroon and Chad,” Aliyu said.  However, it was not possible to verify the reports regarding more than 200 missing girls who were kidnapped in the northeast by the Boko Haram terrorist network two weeks ago.

“Some of them have been married off to insurgents. A medieval kind of slavery. You go and capture women and then sell them off,” community elder Pogu Bitrus of Chibok, the town where the girls were abducted, told the BBC Hausa Service.

The  Borno-Yobe People's Forum was alerted to the alleged mass weddings by residents of the Sambisa Forest, on Nigeria's border with Cameroon, where the terrorist group is known to have hideouts. 

The report comes as terrorist network Boko Haram gathered to negotiate the students' fate, and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader told reporters.

He added that the message released by the abductors on Wednesday included the claim that two of the girls have died from snake bites.

The message was sent to a member of a presidential committee mandated last year to mediate a ceasefire with the Islamic extremists, said the civic leader speaking on a condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to publicly discuss the talks.

As many of the girls remain missing, hundreds of women marched on Wednesday to Nigeria's National Assembly to protest against the lack of action to help being offered the students. Hundreds more also marched in Kano, Nigeria's second city in the north.

“The leaders of both houses said they will do all in their power but we are saying two weeks already have past, we want action now,” said activist Mercy Asu Abang.

Nigerians have harnessed social media to protest, trending under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

A federal senator from the region said the military is aware of the movements of the kidnappers and the girls.

“What bothered me the most is that whenever I informed the military where these girls were, after two to three days they were moved from that place to another. Still, I would go back and inform them on new developments,” Sen. Ahmad Zanna is quoted as saying at the Nigerian online news site Persecond News.

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