A Nigerian aid worker abducted this month in the restive northeastern Borno state appeared last week in a proof-of-life video with her five companions. The video, which also includes an unconfirmed claim of kidnapped student Leah Sharibu’s death, comes as Boko Haram’s insurgency reaches its 10-year mark.
Grace Taku, an employee of Action Against Hunger, was traveling with three health workers and three drivers for a program in the town of Damasak when insurgents ambushed their car. One of the drivers died while captors took the rest of them away. In the video, the abductees sit on mats as a United Nations tarp hangs in the background.
Taku, the only woman in the group, said they don’t know where their captors kept them. She said she is the only Christian among the captives and asked officials and the Christian Association of Nigeria to ensure their freedom.
The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), which broke away from Boko Haram in 2016, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings in an unconfirmed report shortly after the video was released.
In the video, Taku also said they didn’t want to be killed like other victims of extremists, Sharibu and Alice Loksha, “because Nigeria couldn’t do anything about them.” She added, “They were not released, they were also killed.”
Boko Haram militants kidnapped Sharibu, 16, from her school in 2018 and kept her in captivity because of her Christian faith. The terror group abducted Alice Loksha, who worked as a nurse at a refugee center, in March of the same year.
Akinola Olojo, the Institute for Security Studies researcher, said terror groups typically release statements when they kill their captives. “No formal statement has been made by ISWAP regarding this, bearing in mind that Leah’s case is a high-profile one,” he said.
ISWAP and Boko Haram continue to carry out sporadic attacks in the region, 10 years after Boko Haram’s insurgency began. On Saturday, suspected Boko Haram extremists killed 60 people during a funeral procession in Borno, the deadliest attack this year. —O.O.