A video released by Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) showed six Nigerian aid workers kidnapped in Borno state last week begging for their lives. The tape had one of the abductees, a young female aide worker pleading for her freedom and claiming that the group had killed two of its abductees including Leah Sharibu and Alice Ngaddah.
The backdrop: The 3-minute video featured the abducted aid worker who identified herself as Grace, with the Non-profit organization,Action Against Hunger (ACF). The six persons were kidnapped when gunmen fired at a convoy of vehicles on the the road to Damasak, a northern town on the Niger border in Borno State. This resulted in the death of an ACF driver with 6 others (five men) abducted.
The big picture: ISWAP’s rise has seen the decline of other factions of the Boko Haram sect. Analysis of this recent video has ruled out the possibility that it was released by ISWAP. According to one of the experts, the video is most likely from the JAS faction – Abubakar Shekau’s faction of the Boko Haram sect, which is different from ISWAP. And ISWAP were the abductors of Leah, not JAS. Another expert concludes that it is most likely a propaganda effort to show relevance. It all points to possibility that the claims by the group, on Leah and Alice’s killing might be a ruse designed to extract ransom and demands from the government and the aid agencies. This also puts the abductees in grave danger as the sect will try to prove that they should be reckoned with.
- In October 2018, ISWAP terrorists killed 24-year-old midwife Hauwa Mohammed Liman after her employer the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) refused to pay a ransom for her release.
The Nigerian side: Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu revealed that the government was already in engagement with the captors of the aid workers.
One more thing: The video was released on the 10th Anniversary of the Boko Haram sect. While there might be other symbolisms contained in the video, the style seems to be inconsistent with ISWAP, a more recent faction of the Boko Haram group. One thing is clear: the Nigerian government is fighting a multi-dimensional battle and 10 years later, it is still groping for strategic direction.