Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, Two Escaped Boko Haram Abductees, Graduate From High School in VA, Head to Southeastern University

(photo via instagram.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story. Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People Magazine a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.

The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.

“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running … then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”

She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them. Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.

Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony. They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

To read more, go to: 2 Escaped Boko Haram Victims Graduate From High School | HuffPost

Nigerian Government Negotiates Release of 82 Chibok Girls From Boko Haram

(photo via cnn.com)

Lagos, Nigeria – Eighty-two Chibok schoolgirls have been released after successful negotiations between the terrorist group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, the Nigerian President’s office said.

A government official close to the negotiations told CNN the freed girls are in military custody in Banki, a town in northeast Nigeria. They will be transferred to the capital, Abuja, where they will have medical checks and be reunited with their families. They are believed to be among the 276 girls, ages 16 to 18, forced from their beds by Boko Haram militants in the middle of the night in April 2014.

The kidnapping from a boarding school in the town of Chibok sparked global outrage and the social media movement #BringBackOurGirls.”I am very, very excited with this development. I cannot even sleep tonight,” said Yana Galang, whose daughter, Rifkatu, was among the girls kidnapped. Galang said they don’t yet know who has been released, “but we’re very happy that many have been freed.” “I hope and pray that my daughter is among these released girls,” she added.

Some Boko Haram suspects being held by the Nigerian government were released as part of the negotiations, President Muhammadu Buhari‘s office said Saturday. “The President has repeatedly expressed his total commitment towards ensuring the safe return of the #ChibokGirls, and all other Boko Haram captives,” Buhari’s office said in a statement.Buhari will meet with the girls in Abuja on Sunday, his office said.

To read full article, go to: 82 Chibok girls released – CNN.com

African-American Billionaire Robert Smith Offers Full Scholarships for Education of Chibok Girls Who Escaped Boko Haram

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (C) poses on October 19, 2016 with the 21 Chibok girls who were released by Boko Haram last week, at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria. Speaking at the presidential villa in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, Buhari addressed the girls and their families saying ‘we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfil our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home’. (AFP/Philip OJISUA)

article by Mfonobong Nsehe via forbes.com

American billionaire Robert Smith has offered to sponsor the education of 24 girls from the Chibok community, including the 21 girls who escaped from Boko Haram captivity in October this year.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Nigeria’s President, announced this on Tuesday during a media briefing with journalists at the State House in Abuja, according to the News Agency of Nigeria. Shehu said that the girls will be admitted through negotiation at the prestigious American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, with the American billionaire footing the entire bill of the girls’ tuition, accommodation, feeding and other related expenses.

It costs anywhere from $5,000 to $11,000 a year to educate a student at the school which is owned by wealthy frontline Nigerian politician and businessman Atiku Abubakar. Smith has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free,’’ Shehu added.

Shehu revealed that the Nigerian government is treating the recently released 21 Chibok girls as adoptees of the Federal Government. “But there is a lot of local and international interest in the future plans of the girls,’’ he added.

To read more: African-American Billionaire Robert Smith Offers Scholarship To Chibok Girls

Nigerian Army Frees 71, Mostly Women & Children, From Boko Haram

(photo: ibtimes.com)

(photo: ibtimes.com)

The ongoing clash between Nigeria‘s armed forces and the Islamist militants Boko Haram has been largely a one-sided affair with the terrorist group seemingly taking the upper hand. Earlier Thursday, the Nigerian Army announced a victory of sorts after reportedly freeing 59 women and children that were held by the heavily armed insurgents.

Nigerian publication The Sun reported from the city of Maiduguri, the largest in Borno State. The state has been a staging ground for some of Boko Haram’s most vicious attacks and the group has repelled much of the Nigerian military’s offensive maneuvers. Their most recent raid, however, yielded favorable results if reports hold true.

From The Sun:

The military has rescued another 59 hostages from Boko Haram hide-outs in Borno State during raids in what appeared like a renewed vigour to end insurgency in the northeast.

Authorities said troops raided two camps at Kashinbiri and Wallmeri, two remote communities in Konduga Local Government in the central part of the state. The area is also few kilometres to SambiSa, a major Boko Haram camp.

A Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and spokesman, 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Tukur Gusau, said the hostages include 25 children, 29 women and five elderly men.

“Troops of 151 Task Force Battalion conducted operations on Kashinbiri and Wallmeri Boko Haram terrorists camps on Wednesday. During the raids, quite a number of the terrorists were killed, a Landrover and a tipper were recovered. The troops also rescued 59 civilians that were held captive by the terrorist, they are 25 children, 29 women and five elderly men. The camps have been cleared by the troops,” he said at a news briefing in Maiduguri yesterday.

The rescue of the 59 individuals brings the army’s tally this week to 71. It was reported by the Associated Press that 12 women and girls were freed after forces stormed the city of Kilakisa, which sits 55 miles southwest of Maiduguri.

The Nigerian military said it freed hundreds back in March and seized many of the cities held by Boko Haram in the northeastern part of the country. The rebels have increased their number of attacks back at the military, yet with little in the way of considerable gain according to recent reports.

article by D.L. Chandler via newsone.com

President Obama Praises Nigerian Leader For Tackling Boko Haram

President Barack Obama and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (photo via pbs.org)

President Barack Obama and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (photo via pbs.org)

President Barack Obama gave his support to Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari on Monday for his fight against the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

According to the BBC, the two came face-to-face at the Oval Office for the first time since Buhari’s electoral win in March. Obama told reporters Buhari’s clear agenda will more than likely bring peace, security, and safety to the people of north-east Nigeria. Since 2009, the area has been plagued with violence carried out by the militant group, including last year’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls.

“[Buhari has] a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram and extremists of all sorts inside of his country,” Obama said. “And he has a very clear agenda in terms of rooting out the corruption that too often has held back the economic growth and prosperity of his country.”

First Lady Michelle Obama helped spread awareness about the tragedy with the social media initiative, #BringBackOurGirls. The U.S. also sent surveillance flights over Nigeria to help locate the girls, but conflict with former President Goodluck Jonathan caused the United States to take a step back in its efforts.

Jonathan, furious over the country’s refusal to sell government helicopter gunships to him, stalled a U.S. military training program. He was also accused of corruption and several human rights violations by the Nigerian military.

At this point, Obama hasn’t promised the new leader military assistance.

Buhari thanked Obama for his kind words and said he believes the new relationship can help reduce dissatisfaction in the country.

“Our allies can provide much-needed military training and intelligence as our soldiers take the war effort to Boko Haram,” he said.

Buhari, a former military dictator, has changed its tone. Since winning the election, he fired the entire top echelon of the military. The 72-year-old has also come with slight criticism, however, for a delay in putting together his cabinet.

article by Desire Thompson via newsone.com

Nigeria: 160 More Women, Children Rescued from Boko Haram Camp

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Kano, Nigeria (CNN)  Nigerian troops rescued an additional 160 women and children from Boko Haram within days after they found hundreds of other hostages, the military said Thursday. “We are still working to verify the actual number of the rescued hostages, but I can say they include around 60 women and 100 children,” said army spokesman Sani Usman.

Troops are moving into other parts of the forest and have destroyed nine militant camps, the spokesman said. “Many of those kidnapped have undergone psychological trauma and indoctrination,” he said.

Second rescue in a week

The rescue announced Thursday came the same week the military said it rescued another group of hostages in a different operation in the same forest. Shortly after troops saved 200 girls and 93 women Tuesday, Usman said they were not the Chibok girls whose abduction last year sparked worldwide outrage.  It was not immediately clear if any of those rescued in the most recent operation are among the Chibok girls.

That mass abduction of more than 200 girls in April 2014 from a school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok sparked a social media movement, #BringBackOurGirls. There’s been no sign of them since. Last year, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau not only bragged about abducting the girls, but said he would “sell them in the market” like slaves.

Usman said the 160 figure for the latest batch of rescues is “an estimation, because more are coming in as operations continue.”

As to their backstories, the Nigerian army spokesman added, “Some of them are psychologically disturbed and giving contrary information due to trauma, so we can’t say where they’re from yet.”

Those rescued Tuesday were at least initially in “operational areas and not yet cleared for accessibility by health workers,” according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Officials have sent basic food and sanitary supplies, said agency spokesman Manzo Ezekiel.  Continue reading

Boko Haram to Release Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

On Friday, Nigeria’s government announced it had reached a deal with Boko Haram to release the approximately 200 schoolgirls held captive by the Islamist terror group since April.

The agreement, announced by the country’s defense minister, also involves a cease fire between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s military. The government expects the terror group will not back out on the deal. “Commitment among parts of Boko Haram and the military does appear to be genuine,” an official with Nigeria’s security forces told Reuters Friday. “It is worth taking seriously.”

Boko Haram militants abducted more than 300 schoolgirls from Chibok boarding school in northern Nigeria in mid-April, sparking a worldwide outcry and propelling the group onto to the international stage for the first time. Over fifty of the girls escaped early on. The rest have remained in captivity ever since.

Boko Haram, whose name roughly means “Western education is sinful,” has been terrorizing Nigeria since 2009 in an effort to return the country to the pre-colonial era of Muslim rule. Over the past half-decade, the Islamist group has killed approximately 5,000 Nigerians the group regards as pro-government in attacks on schools, churches, and mosques, as well as military checkpoints, police stations, highways, and a bus station in the capital city of Abuja.

article by Michelle Denise Jackson via forharriet.com