Zannah Mustapha, one of the mediators that participated in the negotiations that led to the release of 82 of the abducted Chibok girls has said that some of the girls chose to stay back with their captors rather than be released.
There has always been the fears that the longer the girls stay in captivity, the more radicalized they become and the less their chances of returning to their old lives.
However, online newspaper, Premium Times, in a report first published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, quoted Mustapha as saying that he did not question what the girls’ reasons were for refusing to return to their families as that was not his business as a negotiator.
“Some girls refused to return … I have never talked to one of the girls about their reasons,” said 57-year-old Mustapha.
“As a mediator, it is not part of my mandate to force them (to return home),” he added.
A psychologist, Fatima Akilu, who has been involved in deradicalisation programmes for Boko Haram militants and women abducted by them, gave an insight to why some of the girls may have decided to remain with their captors.
Akilu who is the head of the Neem Foundation, a non-profit group aimed at countering extremism in Nigeria, said the girls may have developed what she referred to as ‘Stockholm syndrome’ and want to remain.
“Some are afraid of what to expect, the unknown. We don’t know how much influence their husbands have in coercing them not to go back,” she said.
“Stockholm syndrome”, also known as “Capture Bonding” is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.
Speaking further, Mustapha said negotiations are still on, not only for the release of the remaining Chibok girls, but also for a total end to insurgency and return of absolute peace in the North East.
“We are not just talking … we are still actively working towards peace,” Mustapha said.
“Even though we have got (some of) the girls back, I don’t feel we have made much progress.
“After the (release of) the 21 girls, how many hundreds have been killed by suicide bombings?” he queried.
The rate of Suicide bombings has been on the increase in recent weeks with several incidents recorded in the Muna Garage area of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Most of the attacks had been carried out by teenage females, fuelling speculations at some point that some of the attackers could be the Chibok girls.
Unconfirmed reports have it that five Boko Haram suspects were released in exchange for the 82 Chibok girls.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, on Monday assure Nigerians that there was nothing to worry about regarding the released insurgents as the Military is totally in control of the security situation in the North East.