Nigeria is sending a team to Cameroon on Sunday to verify a would-be suicide bomber’s claim that she is one of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram from the northern town of Chibok.
With less than a month before the two-year anniversary of the brazen kidnapping which shook the world, 219 Chibok students are still missing and there are few signs that the Nigerian government is making progress on securing their release.
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The Nigerian government on Sunday said it would be sending a team to the Cameroonian capital Yaounde to meet the girl, who was arrested along with another would-be bomber.
They will “verify whether a female suicide bomber arrested…is one of the missing school girls abducted in Chibok,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu said.
There was no guarantee that she was speaking the truth, said Shehu.
“Doubts have crept into the claim following new information from Cameroon that the two girls were aged about ten years,” Shehu said.
“One of the two is also believed to be heavily drugged and therefore not in full control of her senses,” he said.
The two arrested would-be bombers each wore a 12 kilo (26 pounds) belt of explosives.
The “Bring Back Our Girls” advocacy group on Sunday said that the Nigerian government needed to move fast and see if she was indeed a kidnapped Chibok student.
“For us if the claim turns out to be true brings hope that the girls are alive,” spokesman Rotimi Olawale told AFP.
“The Chibok community is hopeful that this will be a breakthrough,” said Olawale.
“But it brings a sense of urgency because Boko Haram may be using these girls as suicide bombers.”
However, Olawale said the youngest Chibok girl captured by Boko Haram was 16 years old.
“I think that the details are sketchy,” Olawale said. “We expect that in the next 48 hours the government will have gotten to the bottom of this.”
In total, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014 as they were preparing for end-of-year exams in the remote northeastern town.
Boko Haram has carried out suicide bombings often using girls as part of its armed campaign to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
Some 20,000 people have been killed in the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno state — where Chibok is located — according to a report for the World Bank that puts the cost of destruction at USD 5.9 billion.