More than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been married off to militants, according to a man claiming to be the leader of the Islamic extremists.
The man, who identifies himself as Abubakar Shekau, said the 219 girls, who were taken from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in April, are now ‘in their marital homes’.
He added that they have all converted to Islam and have now memorised two chapters of the Koran.
He said: ‘We have married them off. They are in their marital homes. Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam?’
The claims, which were published in a video seen today, contradict recent claims by the Nigerian government that the girls would soon be freed.
They call into question whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighbouring Chad will secure the girls’ release.
The man claiming to be Shekau, who the Nigerian military says it killed a year ago, also denied there was a ceasefire.
Violence has continued since the government announced the agreement, raising doubts about how much influence Danladi Ahmadu, the man with whom the govenment is negotiating, has over the group.
Shekau also announced that Boko Haram, which means ‘Western education is sinful’, was holding a German hostage after kidnapping him from the northeastern city of Gombe in July.