Chibok Girls Seen Alive in Gwoza – BBC Report
A BBC report indicated that more than 50 of the abducted Chibok girls were seen alive three weeks ago.
A woman who spoke with the BBC said she saw the girls in Gwoza town in Borno State before the Boko Haram militants were driven out of there by Nigerian soldiers and other regional forces.
Boko Haram sparked global outrage when it seized more than 219 girls from Chibok town a year ago.
The US, China and other foreign powers promised to help find the girls. However, the girls have never been traced, and little has been heard of them since they were taken from their boarding school.
In an open letter, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai called on Nigeria’s authorities and the international community to do more to secure the release of the girls.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the girls had been converted to Islam and married off, fuelling concern that the militants had treated them as war booty and sex-slaves.
The woman, who lived under Boko Haram’s rule in Gwoza, told the BBC that she saw the girls in Islamic attire, being escorted by the militants.
“They said they were Chibok girls kept in a big house,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.
“We just happened to be on the same road with them,” she added. Three other women also told the BBC they had seen the girls in Gwoza.
Boko Haram was believed to have turned Gwoza into its headquarters after it captured the town in August 2014.
Defence headquarters said troops recaptured the town last month.
The militants were suspected to have fled to the nearby Mandara Mountains, near the border with Cameroon. It is unclear whether the girls are with them there.
Another woman told the BBC she last saw some of the girls in November at a Boko Haram camp in Bita village, also in the north-east.
“About a week after they were brought to the camp, one of us peeked through a window and asked: ‘Are you really the Chibok girls?’ and they said: ‘Yes’. We believed them and didn’t ask them again,” the woman said.
“They took Qur’an lessons, cleaned their compound, cooked for themselves and they braided each other’s hair. They were treated differently – their food [was] better and water clean. “