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Seven Years After, Calls For Rescue Of Missing Chibok Schoolgirls Continue

Ronke Idowu  
Updated April 14, 2021
Desks with name tags of the missing schoolgirls taken on April 14, 2019, in Abuja during the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Chibok abduction. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun

 

Seven years since Boko Haram gunmen seized 276 girls aged between 12 and 17 from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State calls have been reignited for the rescue of the missing schoolgirls.

Although most of the 276 girls escaped or were later released, more than 112 girls are still missing.

In a statement to mark the anniversary, Amnesty International blamed the Federal Government for failure to learn from the Chibok attack and protect school children from attacks.

“The Nigerian authorities’ failure to protect schoolchildren from recent attacks clearly shows that no lessons have been learned from the Chibok tragedy. The authorities’ only response to schoolchildren being targeted by insurgents and gunmen is to close schools, which is increasingly putting the right to education at risk,” Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho said, adding that, “Whatever authorities are doing to tame this tide, it is not working.”

Meanwhile, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group has vowed not to relent in their campaign for the release of the schoolgirls.

“Even as we observe that other atrocities against Nigerian children and students assault the sensibilities of Nigerians, and those of the children are returned to their families; the fate of our missing 112 Chibok girls and the continuing trauma of Chibok parents and their communities are slipping from the public consciousness and are no longer a priority for the Federal Government,” the group said in a statement announcing a renewed global campaign for the return of the missing girls.

Members of Chibok community attend the 7th anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls, in Abuja on April 14, 2021. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun

 

The BBOG group which is one of the largest campaign groups for the return of the girls also held a lecture with speakers at the event lamenting the silence of the Federal Government.

“Seven years today, 219 young women who trusted our country to protect them, were abducted from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State. One hundred and twelve -112 of our girls and Leah Sharibu are still unaccounted by @NGRPresident. No word. No closure,” Oby Ezekwesili one of the founders of the campaign group said.

Members of the Chibok community attend the 7th anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls, in Abuja on April 14, 2021. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun

 

A vocal critic of the Nigerian Government, Aisha Yesufu, also at the event said the campaigners calling for the release of the girls should not stop or relent their efforts despite the government’s silence.

“The #BringBackOurGirls chants are so powerful! The fight for the #ChibokGirls is the fight for the soul of #Nigeria! What do we want? “The truth, nothing but the truth!” What are we demanding? “#BringBackOurGirls NOW & ALIVE.”

Yusufu said the wave of insecurity in Nigeria, especially Northern states is “creating a generation of children whose education has been permanently dented.”

Rebecca Samuel, mother of Sarah, one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram, cries during the 7th anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls, in Abuja on April 14, 2021. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun

 

BBOG plans from April 14, 2021, to hold a series of events in Lagos, Abuja, New York, and Chibok to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the abduction.

 

– Hope, Optimism –

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State also commemorated the missing schoolgirls, seven years after. He is optimistic that the abducted Chibok schoolgirls will be rescued.

“As a father of all sons and daughters of Borno, I haven’t lost hope that our remaining Chibok schoolgirls and other abducted persons will be safely recovered,” the governor said, reigniting hopes that the students still in the kidnappers’ den will reunite with their parents.

While critics have lashed out at the Federal Government over its inability to rescue the schoolgirls, Governor Zulum says President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned as the parents of the Chibok girls about the development.

 

Release Of Chibok Girls Is My Priority – Buhari 

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 pledged that his government will not rest until the remaining Chibok girls are safely released.

The President, during a bilateral meeting with Swiss President, Alain Berset, on the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP24 in Katowice, Poland assured that strategies are in place to ensure the safe return of the girls, building on the past successes of securing the release of some of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.

“We will continue to make the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls a priority and will welcome any kind of support from any quarters to make this happen,” Buhari said.

 

 – Mass Abductions Since Chibok –

Years after President Buhari’s assurance, many more abductions and kidnappings have taken place in schools in Northern Nigeria.

On Friday 11 December 2020, at about 9:30 pm, gunshots were heard within the premises of Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Kastina state, northwest Nigeria.

More than 300 students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021.
More than 300 students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021. Further mass kidnappings of schoolchildren in Nigeria have seen hundreds of children killed, raped, forced into “marriages” or forced to join Boko Haram.

 

The gunmen, dressed in military uniforms broke into dormitories and went away with students numbering over 300 students.

The students were held in captivity for six nights until their release on 17 December 2020.

The attack prompted state governments in Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Katsina to order schools to close, contributing to the huge number of children that are out of school in Nigeria. The UN currently puts the figure at 10.5 million.

Just a month later, on 17 February 2021, 27 students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kagara, Niger State, were abducted by gunmen from their dormitory in the early hours of the morning. The students were released on 27 February.

In another raid on 26 February 2021, hundreds of schoolgirls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state. After four days in captivity, 279 of the students were released on 2 March.

In March 2021, two different schools were attacked in Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria, including the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization where 30 students were seized on 11 March.