With a tinge of relief in seeing and identifying some of their children and wards, families and friends of the abducted schoolgirls of Government Secondary School, Chibok yesterday said they were not concerned with strategy used in freeing the students held by the notorious Boko Haram sect, stressing that all that mattered to them was the safe return of their daughters.
The parents and schoolmates of the remaining abducted girls, who answered questions from THISDAY after identifying some of the girls shown in a video released Monday by the Boko Haram sect, explained that they were not interested in the means by which the girls are recovered from their captors as long as they are brought back home alive.
The parents of the abducted girls and six of the girls who escaped gave the names of some of the girls in the video reciting a verse of the Qu’ran as Rose Daniel, Sarah Samuel, Ajara Isah, Aisha Zannah, Saraya Amos Ali, Hauwal Abdul, Ruth Bitrus, Awwal Ali, Saratu Thlauja, Rifkatu Gala, Mariam Ali, Susannah Yakubu and Jummai.
They revealed that most of the girls in the video were Christians and there was no way they could have converted to Islam except by coercion.
One of them pointing at the television screen said: "I know four of the girls.
The girls I know are all Christians. It is sad that they have been forced to become Muslims.”
A father of one of the girls in the video, Lawan Zannah who identified his daughter as Aisha Zannah said my daughter is a Muslim, adding: "I do not know how someone could kidnap girls and compel them to change their faith. In Islam, there is no compulsion in faith, I do not believe this abductors are Muslims for they do not act as one.”
He said: “I saw my daughter and her friend and they are emaciated, meaning they have not been handling them well."
Zannah, however, expressed joy that his daughter was still alive, saying, “I am happy that she is still alive but I want her back. We are just happy to see our children but we want them back. The government should be able to do everything to bring them back."
Godiya Simon, who escaped from the Sambisa forest, the stronghold of the sect, said there is no doubt that many of the girls "I see in the video are from our school.
All I want is to get reunited with them.”
However, it could not be ascertained if all the girls in the video were abducted on April 14 from the Chibok school.
Meanwhile, the global effort to rescue the girls got a boost yesterday when education activist, Malala Yousafzai, said she will donate all the proceeds from the sale of a portrait to help the search for the schoolgirls.
Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by Taliban militants in Pakistan for advocating girls' right to education, said she was shocked and saddened when she learned that more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls had been kidnapped from their school by the terror group Boko Haram.
“I am very concerned about these innocent girls – my sisters – whose only crime was going to school and learning,” the 16-year-old said.
The statement said the Malala Fund, a charity set up to support the fight for girls’ right to education, will donate all the proceeds from the sale of a Jonathan Yeo portrait of Yousafzai.
The oil painting is estimated to be worth $60,000 to $80,000 and was given to the fund by the artist. The painting was auctioned yesterday at Christie’s in New York.
“I hope the painting reflects the slight paradox of someone with enormous power yet vulnerable and young at the same time,” Yeo, the artist, said in a statement.