The sect have in a video published on Twitter on Sunday, shown a camouflage-clad Boko Haram fighter addressing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in front of about 50 of the girls, all stony-faced and clad in long robes and hijabs.
At some point in the video, the fighter interviews a girl named Maida—identified as one of the 276 students abducted from Chibok school in Northern Nigeria two years ago—who claims five of her schoolmates were killed in airstrikes and asks the government to negotiate the release of those still held captive.
“Some of the girls are crippled, some are terribly sick and some of them, as I had said, died during bombardment by the Nigerian military,” the fighter said in Hausa language.
He also repeated the insurgency’s call for a prisoner swap: asking the government to release Boko Haram militants jailed in Lagos, Abuja and the northeastern provincial capital of Maiduguri.
“If our members in detention are not freed, let the government and parents of the Chibok girls know that they will never find these girls again,” he said.
However, the Defence Headquarters have in a statement released by its Director of Information, Brigadier-General Abubakar Rabe, refuted Boko Haram’s claim, saying that while it was still studying the video to ascertain its veracity, it was improbable that its airstrikes could have killed innocent citizens since the defence forces took extra care to protect civilian population in the theatre of war.
“It is extremely difficult and rare to hit innocent people during airstrikes because the operation is done through precision attack on identified and registered targets and locations.
Rabe added that: “The Precision Airstrike is very effective at taking out targeted enemies because it is not a random operation. We are nevertheless studying the video clips to examine if the victims died from other causes rather from the allegation of airstrikes.”
The Federal Government have also reacted to the video saying it was in touch with the Shekau’s faction of the terror group and would do all within its powers to secure the release of the girls.
”We are on top of the situation,” said the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, explaining that the Federal Government was, however, being extremely careful because the negotiations had been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram.