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Birnin Yauri: As Four School Girls Regain Freedom, Parents Of Other Captives Are Hopeful

Two years after the infamous mass abduction at Federal Government College (FGC) Birnin Yauri, Northwest Nigeria, four more captives from the boarding school have regained freedom.

Dogo Gide, a leading terrorist leader operating in northwest Nigeria, has released four captives out of the 11 abducted schoolgirls of FGC Birnin Yauri, who had to navigate two years of torment in his hideout. 

The four girls reached safety late on Friday, April 21. Their release was the first of its kind in 15 months – since Jan. 2022, when Gide released dozens of the abducted schoolchildren, leaving 11 girls behind.

In a previous timeline report, HumAngle compiled a list of significant events about the abduction, covering the period from the early warning signals of the attack to the birth of a boy by one of the captives in Nov. 2022.

We later reported the sudden intervention of Dogo Gide’s mother, who directed her son to resume negotiations with the parents of the captives. This came as a relief to the parents because the terrorist initially vowed to negotiate only with the government, whose help was, according to the parents, not forthcoming.


In Dec. 2022, the parents’ group, under the lead of Salim Kaoje (an elder brother to one of the captives), resumed negotiations with the terrorists. Following the terrorists’ insistence on exchanging the schoolgirls only with a ransom of ₦100 million, the parents, mostly peasant farmers, had to resort to crowd-funding in Jan. 2023.

Ransom

By Feb. 21, the parents had raised ₦100 million, but their efforts were trapped in a deadlock caused by an unprecedented cash crunch. The cash crunch was occasioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Naira redesign programme. And even when the parents were willing to pay in Dollars or CFA Franc, Gide insisted that he must be paid in cash and with the highly scarce new Naira notes.

The parents only found a soft landing in March 2023, when Gide softened his stipulations following his mother’s further intervention and the CBN’s implementation of the Supreme Court’s ruling, extending the validity of the old Naira notes to Dec. 31, 2023.

Not only did the kingpin slash the ransom to ₦80 million, he also allowed the parents to pay in three categories. “He (Gide) instructed that we should give him ₦20 million of the New notes, ₦20 million of the old notes and ₦40 million of the USD,” said Daniel Alkali, father of one of the captives.

According to Alkali, Gide selected three people to serve as intermediaries between him and the parents during the negotiations and ransom payments: one Abubakar, Gide’s mother, and Gide’s uncle.

The parents handed over the ransom to Abubakar, who in turn handed it to Gide’s mother around the 11th hour of Tuesday, April 18. The agreement was that all the 11 schoolgirls would be released to Abubakar the following day. Abubakar would, in turn, convey them to Kotonkoro, a village in Niger state, where Mr Alkali would be waiting to pick them up.

But Gide broke that promise after he collected the money from his mother.

Release

The next day, Gide told Abubakar he would not release all the girls, Alkali said. The warlord claimed that in an earlier negotiation with the Kebbi State government, some chemicals were used to destroy the money given to him as ransom. Gide ruled that the parents must collect and return that money to the government before he would release all the girls.

Abubakar refused, insisting it was not part of the ongoing negotiation. He, therefore, vowed not to take any of the girls with him unless all of them were released. But Gide bypassed Abubakar and directly phoned Salim Kaoje, asking him to proceed with the arrangement to receive the girls at Kotonkoro.

Alkali recounted how, to the parent’s dismay, he received only four girls at Kotonkoro: Rahma Abdullahi, Hafsat Murtala, Faiza Ahmad, and Bilhah Musa. “His (Gide’s) boys brought the girls on motorbikes,” he said. “He gave them a sack full of the destroyed cash, which he said we should return to the government. He insists that the government must replace it with clean and fit money before he releases the remaining seven girls.”

The girls mentioned that the money was worth ₦30 million. They “are in very bad health and hygienic condition,” Alkali said about the released victims. “I shed tears when I saw them.” He confirmed that two girls were released with babies.

Alkali said he arranged for a police escort to accompany him from Kotonkoro to Yauri, where he handed the four girls over to another parent for onward conveyance to Birnin Kebbi, where they would be subjected to medical and other check-ups.

Hope

Alkali returned to Kotonkoro with the hope that the remaining children, among them his dear daughter (Ne’empere Daniel), would soon be released. 

“As I speak to you, I am in the village right now,” he told HumAngle. 

“I am optimistic because Abubakar is still in the forest. He is still giving me assurances. He is trying hard to meet Dogo’s mother again. He wants to claim the girls from the mother since he gave her the ransom to hand to Dogo. So he wants to insist that she should collect the girls from Dogo and hand them over to him for onward conveyance to their parents.”



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