OE Watch Commentary: In 2014 Boko Haram infamously kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. Not until October 2016 and May 2017 did the group exchange over 20 and 80 of the girls, respectively, for a ransom of around three million Euros. Since 57 girls immediately escaped after the kidnapping, three escaped in the months afterwards, and several died in the bush, slightly over 100 girls remain captive. Boko Haram claims the remaining girls in captivity do not want to return home and has released videos of them saying they want to stay with Boko Haram, although such videos were likely coerced.
Less than a year after the May 2017 exchange, according to the excerpted article in Nigeria’s Vanguard, Boko Haram again conducted a mass kidnapping of schoolgirls, this time around 110 girls in the town of Dapchi in Yobe State on 18 February. The attack, according to the article, was not only a human tragedy, but an example of more “incompetence and carelessness” from the government. The article describes how, like in the Chibok kidnapping, the government at first denied a kidnapping took place and then claimed to have rescued all the girls, only to admit days later that neither claim was true.
After the kidnapping, a new social media campaign to call for the release of the Dapchi girls began and was called #DapchiGirls on Twitter. It also linked up with the #Bringbackourgirls campaign that has called for the government to win the freedom of the Chibok girls. The article says the #DapchiGirls campaign will bring claims of legal, criminal negligence against the Nigerian government, although it has not explained how it will do so. The pressure on the government from the #DapchiGirls campaign, among other sources, apparently was successful in contributing to pushing the government to negotiate a short-term ceasefire with Boko Haram whereby the group returned all of the kidnapped Dapchi girls on 21 March, except five girls who suffocated in a vehicle during the kidnapping and one Christian girl who refused to convert to Islam.
The reason for Boko Haram returning almost all of the girls was that the leadership of the Islamic State-loyal faction of Boko Haram to which the kidnappers belonged does not believe in kidnapping Muslim girls as a legitimate form of warfare. The leadership therefore disapproved of the operation carried out by the kidnappers in Dapchi, who did so without approval. While Nigeria saw a best-case scenario unfold after the Dapchi kidnapping, there is no guarantee that this faction, or the other more ruthless faction that holds the remaining Chibok girls, will not continue other attacks and possibly kidnappings of Christians girls. End OE Watch Commentary (Zenn)