Nigeria kidnapping: 'I saw my poor girl in Boko Haram film'

By Colin Freeman in Abuja

A screengrab taken from a video of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram claiming to show the missing schoolgirls. Image / AFP/Boko Haram
A screengrab taken from a video of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram claiming to show the missing schoolgirls. Image / AFP/Boko Haram

The father of one of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram has spoken of the "other worldly" moment when he saw his daughter's face on the hostage video released by the group.

The man, who asked to be known only as Henry, recognised his 16-year-old daughter sitting at the front of the group of more than 100 girls who appeared in the video.

Watch: Video claims to show missing Nigerian girls

"She was wearing a blue hijab, sitting at the front and I was able to identify her," said Henry, 46, speaking yesterday from Chibok, the remote farming town where the abduction took place exactly a month ago.

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"When I saw it, I felt as if I was not in my own body, not in this world."

With little in the way of internet or television available in Chibok, Henry and a group of other parents made a six-hour journey along rutted bush roads to watch the video in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Tuesday.

It was shown to them in a special broadcast at the state governor's office.

Henry, whose wife could be heard sobbing as he spoke on the phone, was particularly horrified to see that his daughter, a Christian, was being made to wear a hijab. In the hostage video, which was first broadcast on Monday, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, boasted that some of the girls had converted to Islam.

Video

"My daughter is a good Christian, and she normally has a happy face, but when I saw her she was very sad and not looking very good at all," Henry said. "This is because she is being forced to do what she doesn't like."

An estimated 220 girls are believed to be in the group's custody, around 76 of whom have now been identified. As of yesterday, though, many parents had still not seen the tape, prompting the governor's office in Maiduguri to start distributing copies.

Boko Haram has demanded that the girls be swapped in exchange for members of its group currently held in jail. Nigerian ministers have so far given out mixed signals on the question of negotiations, with some ruling it out, but others saying they are "open to dialogue".

- Daily Telegraph UK

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