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Nigeria Should Probe Forced Marriage Between 20 Chibok Girls and Boko Haram Fighters, Says Amnesty International

Amnesty International demands investigation into claims that the Borno State government married off Chibok girls to “repentant” Boko Haram fighters.

As the global community marks the 10th anniversary of the abduction of Chibok Girls in Borno state in 2014, Amnesty International on Sunday said it will document crimes and violations committed by Boko Haram and the Nigerian military against girls since the start of the conflict in North East Nigeria in 2013.

The organisation said the report will also detail their unique reintegration needs and aspirations to rebuild their lives.

The Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, in a statement said
over 1,700 children have been abducted by gunmen since 2014 from 17 mass school abductions recorded in six years.

The statement was titled, “Nigeria: Decade after Boko Haram attack on Chibok, 82 girls still in captivity.”

AI also demanded that the Nigerian Government should promptly investigate allegations of forced marriage between 20 Chibok Girls rescued in the last two years and repentant Boko Haram fighters in a ceremony organised by Borno State government in Maiduguri.

The organization said the father of one of the women confirmed to it that the forced marriages had taken place.

“In a report to be published next month, Amnesty International will document crimes and violations committed by Boko Haram and the Nigerian military against girls associated with, or perceived to be associated with, Boko Haram since the start of the conflict in North East Nigeria in 2013. The report will also detail their unique reintegration needs and their aspirations to rebuild their lives”, AI said.

AI therefore called on the Nigerian authorities to ramp up efforts to ensure the safe release and return of the remaining 82 Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Haram fighters in 2014, and ensure schools are protected from child abductions, which have become increasingly frequent in the decade since the notorious raid by the armed group in northern Nigeria.


In April 2014, 276 schoolgirls were abducted from a government secondary school in Chibok, a town in Borno State.

While some of the girls escaped captivity on their own, others were later released following intense campaigning efforts by civil society organizations and negotiations by the government.

Out of those initially abducted, however, 82 girls remain in captivity, while several children have been abducted in subsequent attacks.

Amnesty International said it has been documenting Boko Haram’s atrocities and targeting of schools since 2012.

Sanusi said in May 2020, Amnesty International published a report on the dire impact of the conflict in North East Nigeria on children.

He said, “It is shocking that in the 10 years since the Chibok school abduction, the Nigerian authorities have not learned any lessons or taken effective measures to prevent attacks on schools. The number of abductions that have taken place since 2014, including as recently as last month, and the fact that hundreds of children are still in the custody of gunmen, shows the lack of political will by the authorities to address the problem.

“The abduction of children and attacks on schools may amount to war crimes. It is the duty of the Nigerian authorities to end these attacks and bring the suspected perpetrators to justice through fair trials and ensure access of victims to justice and effective remedies. A decade is enough time for the Nigerian authorities to find a solution to this problem, but so far, the reality shows the government has neither the will nor the commitment to end these attacks on children and their schools.”

Amnesty International said the implementation of the Safe Schools Initiative launched to improve security around schools after the Chibok abductions, “has been bogged down by bureaucratic roadblocks and allegations of corruption”, adding that “as a result, many Northern states have closed hundreds of schools indefinitely, disrupting the education of thousands of children.”

AI said its investigations reveal that the state of education in Chibok and its surrounding communities is still being impacted by the 2014 abductions.

According to AI, the Borno state government rebuilt the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, which was completely burnt down by Boko Haram in 2014, and set up day secondary schools and a technical school in Chibok.

However, academic activities in the schools remain minimal because parents are still skeptical of sending their children to school, for fear of being abducted by Boko Haram, Sanusi said.

‘Forced’ to marry their abductors

The father of one of the women confirmed to Amnesty International that the forced marriages had taken place.

“I do not want a situation whereby if I speak, the government or Boko Haram will say we are conniving with others to expose issues to the public. I can speak on anonymity but will not still share everything”, he told AI.

Borno state government claims these Boko Haram fighters have undergone rehabilitation and been reintegrated into society under the government’s conflict recovery programme for repentant Boko Haram fighters.

“It is appalling that these freed Chibok girls were forced to marry and live with their abductors. Organized by the Borno state government, these forced marriages are apparently an attempt to appease Boko Haram fighters with complete disregard for the rights and mental well-being of the girls involved”, Sanusi said.

AI said the parents and relatives of the girls who remain in captivity said they have been abandoned by government, citing the lack of information about attempts to ensure the safe release of their children from Boko Haram.

The Nigerian authorities must deliver on its national and international human rights obligations by immediately redoubling efforts to ensure the safe release and return of not only the 82 Chibok girls abducted 10 years ago, but also all people held captive by gunmen across Nigeria, Sanusi stated.

“As we mark the anniversary of these abductions, the Nigerian government must put in place a comprehensive and effective plan to protect schools and children. Authorities must also prioritize helping girls who escaped or were rescued from Boko Haram, to rebuild their lives. They must not ignore the ongoing anguish of the parents whose daughters remain in captivity and ensure they are regularly briefed on efforts to ensure the safe release and return of their children”, Sanusi emphasized.

Friday Olokor, Abuja

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