Members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group are marking 2,000 days since the abduction of over 200 girls by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the Chibok community, Borno State.
The group is demanding the release of the remaining girls still held in the captivity of the terrorist group and also asking the Federal Government to make schools in the northeast safe.
In a statement, the group questioned the Federal Government’s efforts in the fight against Boko Haram and the increased rate of Kidnappings in the country.
It urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government to live up to their responsibility in the protection of the lives and properties of its citizens.
Read Full Statement Below:
Today, Saturday, October 5th 2019 marks 2,000 days since 276 schoolgirls were abducted from Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria by terrorists on the night of April 14, 2014. 57 girls escaped within days of the abduction while 219 remained in captivity.
Five years on, an additional 107 girls have returned: 4 of them as a result of Nigerian military interventions, 21 released in October 2016 after negotiations with their captors and a further 82 set free by the terrorist group in May 2017. 2,000 days later, 112 of the #ChibokGirls abducted during an evil attack on humanity are yet to return.
Over the past 2,000 days, our #ChibokGirls have been denied their fundamental rights to freedom, for simply seeking an education on the path of growth and fulfillment they have been forced to suffer unimaginable horrors by enemies of humanity.
Their families and communities have also borne severe hardships within a war that continues to destroy lives and impede human progress. This nightmare continues to be the shame of a Nation and an open sore of the world that threatens to become ingrained within the darkest parts of our collective history.
Amidst these tragic circumstances, the reality is one in which the #ChibokGirls are supposedly represented by a government that repeatedly fails in its primary responsibility of the protection of lives.
Disturbingly, the government appears to be at ease amidst the troubles of the land, only concerned about protecting a fake-reputation that offers its citizens no value. To highlight this, we note with heartbreaking dismay, the incapacity, apathy and failed leadership displayed by the President and the Federal Government in the wake of the abduction of 6 students and 2 staff members of Engravers College in Kaduna on the 3rd of October 2019. This continues a distressing pattern of a failure to secure, preserve and dignify the lives of citizens.
To this end, the students and staff of Engravers College join a number of citizens who remain missing – including Leah Sharibu, Alice Ngaddah, Grace Taku and her colleagues as well as many others. How can we have continued this way?
Through this all, we stand, keep the faith and hold out the light for our #ChibokGirls and all others in captivity. Today and until they return, we demand #BringBackOurGirls
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has slammed a former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, over the allegations against him and his administration.
In his new book entitled, For the Record, Mr Cameron was said to have accused the previous government of “sleeping on the wheel” while Boko Haram terrorists were abducting schoolgirls in Chibok community of Borno State.
The former United Kingdom prime minister also accused Dr Jonathan of preventing British forces from engaging in rescue efforts, saying he seemed to see the incident as cheap politics.
Responding in a statement on Saturday, former President Jonathan criticised Cameron for the claims, saying “It is quite sad.”
He insisted that none of the allegations was true as he did not only write letters to the former UK Prime Minister but sought the help of former Presidents Barrack Obama (US) and Francois Hollande (France), as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in rescuing the Chibok girls.
He reminded Cameron that in March 2012 when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara in Sokoto, he authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by the Nigerian Army to free the abducted men.
The former president stated that the UK government did not offer any help to rescue the Chibok girls, stressing that he would not have rejected same if there was any.
He, however, accused Cameron of suppressing information about him requesting his help on the Chibok abduction, saying copies of the letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London.
“He (Cameron) never called me on the phone to offer any help. On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him,” Jonathan said.
Read the full statement from the former president below:
My Response To David Cameron’s Claims
I read the comments by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, For the Record, in which he accused me and the Nigerian Government, which I headed, of corruption and rejecting the help of the British Government in rescuing the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.
It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred. As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls.
How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?
Also, history contradicts Mr. Cameron. On March 8, 2012, when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto, I, as Nigerian President, personally authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, to free the abducted men.
So, having set a precedent like that, why would I reject British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls, if it was offered?
I also authorised the secret deployment of troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as a result of the Chibok incident, so how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me.
Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK.
In his book, Mr. Cameron failed to mention that I wrote him requesting his help on Chibok. Why did he suppress that information? I remind him that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London. He never called me on the phone to offer any help. On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.
He accused me of appointing Generals based on political considerations. How could that be when I fired my service chiefs twice in five years, to show that I would not tolerate anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.
I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments. In civil and military matters, I appointed people that I had never even met prior to appointing them, based on their professional pedigree. Though I was from the South, most of my service chiefs came from the North.
I do, however, know that Mr. Cameron has long nursed deep grudges against me for reasons that have been published in various media.
On July 24, 2013, while celebrating the passage of the United Kingdom’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013, Mr. Cameron said “I want to export gay marriage around the world”.
At that occasion, he boasted that he would send the team that successfully drafted and promoted the Bill, to nations, like Nigeria, saying inter alia:
“I’ve told the Bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation”.
As President of Nigeria at that time, I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria. My conscience could not stomach that, because as President of Nigeria, I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.
As such, on Monday, January 13, 2014, I signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law after the Bill had been passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Nigeria’s parliament, in line with the wishes of the Nigerian people. This happened shortly after a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center came up with a finding which indicated that 98 percent of Nigerians were opposed to the idea of Gay Marriage.
Immediately after I took this patriotic action, my government came under almost unbearable pressure from Mr. Cameron, who reached me through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.
In fact, meetings were held at the Obama White House and at the Portcullis House in Parliament UK, with the then Nigerian opposition to disparage me, after I had signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law.
On the issue of corruption, it suffices to say that Mr. Cameron is not as competent as Transparency International, which is globally acknowledged as the adjudicator of who is corrupt and who is not.
During my administration, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.
In line with these facts, I would urge the public to take Mr. Cameron’s accusations with a grain of salt. I will not be the first person to accuse him of lying on account of this book, and with the reactions in the UK so far, I definitely will not be the last.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and President of Nigeria 2010-2015.
The terrorists had returned the other Dapchi girls but left Leah behind for refusing to renounce Christianity.
In commemoration of five years in Boko Haram captivity of the Chibok girls, members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group set up chairs with the names of the remaining 112 girls and Leah as they hold their third annual lecture in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The chairs symbolise that the girls were kidnapped while in school and till this day, their chairs in school are empty.
Meanwhile, the parents of the Chibok girls held another commemoration event at the Government Secondary School, Chibok where their children were abducted in 2014.
Representatives of the community alleged that they were facing “genocide type elimination” by Boko Haram insurgents.
The President of Kibaku Area Development Association, Dauda Illiah, called for the Federal Government’s assistance in this regard and sought relief materials for victims of attacks.
He also urged the government to build a rehabilitation centre for parents and victims of kidnappings in Chibok.
He asked the government to complete the 40km Chibok-Damboa Road which said has not been completed for 40 years and has become a den of kidnappers.
Negotiation And Use Of Force Giving his opinion on Sunrise Daily, Senator Sani recommended three options that the Federal government could explore to ensure the safe return of the missing girls.
“First of all is to explore the negotiation option which is dialogue, and secondly is to continue to use force hoping that we can raid the camp and rescue the girls from the insurgents.
“The third aspect is to use force and still open the door for negotiation, which is the one which I prefer because the use of force (the military option) is still a clear message to the insurgents that they cannot win the military,” he said.
The lawmaker, however, highlighted the fact that the girls were on the terrorists’ camp as hostages and cautioned that “attempt to use force to rescue them naturally comes with consequences”.
He maintained that the available option was to continue to explore all options that would make it possible to get the missing girls back home safe and alive.
The march in commemoration of the 2-year anniversary of the Chibok girls abduction, which started from the Unity Fountain climaxed as planned at the Presidential Villa.
However, a human barricade formed by men of the Nigerian Police stopped members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group from gaining access into the villa.
That did not, however, stop the campaigners from continuing with their planned itinerary at the Presidency which ended with a press conference.
They delivered their message to the President right there.
First they asked the President to act fast to rescue the girls, some of which some parents had just identified in recent pictures on CNN.
Other major demand of the group is that government should investigate every case of kidnapping, whether or not it is related to Chibok, set up a missing persons verification bureau as well as a rehabilitation platform for victims of insurgency.
The Chairman of the Chibok community, Tsambido Hosea, also asked for the establishment of a special search and rescue team with a special mandate to locate and rescue the Chibok girls.
He said that members of the community have continued to grieve over the faith of the girls and are asking the federal government to step up efforts to find them.
Meanwhile, the co-convener of the BBOG campaign group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, reassured Nigerians that the movement is apolitical with interests focused on good governance alone.
“Those who have misrepresented our advocacy to mean some politics need to be mindful of the fact that politics has not delivered anything valuable to any of our Chibok girls,” she said.
The campaigners said that 731 days is no joke and is too long a time for young girls to be left at the mercy of insurgents and away from home but they are not giving up until the girls are back and alive.
They insisted that government must act fast on the new information available.
One of the parents of the Chibok girls, Esther Yakubu, while berating the Police for denying them access to the Presidential Villa, said tearfully, “It is not our fault. We didn’t beg for it and we didn’t pay the Boko Haram to kidnap our girls. They did it just to fulfill their selfish interest.”
The National Assembly has expressed concern that two years after over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents, the Chibok girls are yet to regain their freedom and their whereabouts unknown.
The lawmakers blame the federal government for failing to rescue the girls after two years.
The upper chamber consequently resolved to summon the service chiefs and the National Security Adviser to explain efforts made so far to rescue the girls.
Federal lawmakers in the lower chamber described the abduction of the Chibok girls and their continued captivity as national shame.
They directed the Ministry of Interior to pay compensation to the families of the abducted girls.
Federal lawmakers also asked the Borno State government to rebuild Chibok secondary school in the interest of children in the community.
The National Assembly has asked security agencies to do everything possible to ensure that the girls are rescued.
A symbolic march was held to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the abduction of over 200 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok Borno State.
The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group convened at the Unity Fountain in Abuja Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, and subsequently marched to the Presidential Villa to present their messages to the Presidency.
However, a human barricade formed by officers of the Nigerian Police stopped members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group from gaining access into the villa.
Prior to the march, co-convener of the group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili told Channels Television that Nigerians must continue to empathize with the plight of the girls.
Members of the group have asked Nigerians and the international community not to relent in attempts to return the missing schoolgirls to their parents.
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured parents and relations of the kidnapped Chibok girls that he frequently reflects on the ordeal of the captives in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists and shares the pain of their continued absence from home.
On the second anniversary of the kidnap of the girls, President Buhari affirmed that, as a parent and leader of the country, he understands the torment, frustration and anxiety of the parents and will not spare any effort to ensure the safe return of the girls.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President continues to believe that with the total commitment of the Federal Government, Nigerian Armed Forces and security agencies, and the support of the international community, the girls will be eventually rescued.
“President Buhari notes that thousands of persons, mostly women and children, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, have already been rescued and reunited with their families. He shares the hope of the parents that the Chibok girls will ultimately be rescued and reunited with their families as well.
“The President assures the parents that the Federal Government and security agencies will continue to explore all possible options for the safe return of the girls.
“President Buhari urges the parents to continue to exercise patience and understanding as the government works diligently to ensure that the girls return home unharmed.
“The President thanks all Nigerians, religious and civil organizations, and the international community for their continued sympathy, support and prayers for the return of the Chibok girls,” the statement reads.
Data released by the United Nations Children’s’ Emergency Fund (UNICEF) shows that child suicide attacks in Nigeria and neighbouring countries rose sharply from four in 2014 to 44 in 2015.
The report entitled ‘Beyond Chibok’ shows that between January 2014 and February 2016, Cameroon recorded 21 Boko Haram-induced suicide attacks involving children, followed by Nigeria, 17, and Chad with two.
According to the UNICEF report, more than 75% of the children were girls.
The report notes that nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced, and about 1,800 schools are closed, damaged, looted, burned down or used as shelter by displaced people.
The news of the Chibok abduction has caused international outrage against Boko Haram as well as the federal government of Nigeria since April 2014.
Many protesters all over the world have demanded greater government actions over the rescue of the girls and security of lives and property.
As the world marks two years of the abduction, the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group have asked Nigerians and the international community not to relent in attempts to return the missing schoolgirls to their parents.
The group convened at the Unity Fountain in Abuja Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, and subsequently marched to the Presidential Villa to present their messages to the Presidency.
However, a human barricade formed by officers of the Nigerian Police stopped members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girl’ group from gaining access into the villa.
Prior to the march, co-convener of the group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili told Channels Television that Nigerians must continue to empathize with the plight of the girls.
A Public Affairs Analyst, Dickson Iroegbu, says Nigerians should stop playing the ostrich but rather gang up against those who have ganged up against them.
Iroegbu gave the suggestion during a conversation on the award winning breakfast programme on Channels Television, Sunrise Daily.
He urged Nigerians to wake up and realize that there was a common enemy which everybody has to get involved in fighting.
He warned that if Nigerians do not pay attention to the most important things from the family level, if the country should find itself in a full-fledged war; everyone would be forced to get involved.
“My elder brother died a military man. He died on the 1st of October 2013; he was in Yola. So we have been affected directly too”, he said.
Speaking further, he said that the situation in the country was one which should help define the country’s nationhood, as he expects that the need to win the war would help the citizens become conscious of how to move the nation forward.
“I am very convinced that this issue of insecurity will make us activate that spirit of ‘Nigerianess’ that we need”, he said.
Iroegbu, who is also a filmmaker, accused the media of having helped the insurgents by celebrating their activities. He explained that the act of highlighting the acts perpetrated by the insurgents amounted to celebrating evil.
As someone who had a military man in his family, Iroegbu was asked what the experience had been within the family as regards welfare, but he noted that rising up to fight for one’s country should not be monetised.
“First of all, it was a contribution that we have made. When my elder brother decided to join the force, his was ‘I couldn’t sit back and observe at the corner’ and he paid dearly for it.
“He wasn’t in there to go and make money for us. For us he died a hero”, maintaining that “we don’t have to be paid or wait for moments when we are being coerced to be conscious of doing something for Nigeria”.
He, however, revealed that from his interaction with his late brother, he deduced that the Nigerian military had been compromised with politics, religious and tribal sentiments allowed to creep into the military environment.
“A lot of overhauling needs to be done in that area”, he advised.
He also noted that the issues of insecurity and the Chibok abduction have thrown up a lot and Nigerians were more awake to the need to hold politicians accountable.
“Thank God we are going to have elections soon, Nigerians are watching, we’re not fools anymore.”
On the role of the movie industry in the nation’s security, Iroegbu stated that Nollywood has been fully involved in the fight against insurgency. He revealed that the issue of child soldiers was one that he had personally worked on and called on all Nigerians to embrace the motion picture medium better for propagating ideas.
He added that it was not only a good medium to disseminate good ideas, but it was also good business.
A Security Consultant, Femi Adegbulu, says that the military has been disempowered to do what they are trained to do, in fighting terrorism and not “that they are not capable”
He said that the international community had promised to support Nigeria with the belief that Nigeria would provide the needed leadership. “If we are to provide leadership and the people that are supposed to provide leadership do not have what it takes to be leaders then we have problems. That is what has been observed by the international troops which is making them “slide”.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Adegbulu cautioned Nigerians not to pressurise the military into doing something that is unprofessional.
Referring to the statement made by the military that the abducted Chibok girls have been sighted, he stated that such information leak may lead to relocation of the girls. “The military should not forget that these insurgents have access to the internet, sometimes they even have more equipment than we have,” he stressed.
Mr Adegbolu added that there had been conflicting reports by the military about the insurgents, “today we hear that the leader of the sect is dead, tomorrow we hear that they have released some girls or they have sighted the girls, all these reports are just conflicting.
“The earlier we accept that Nigeria is at war the easier it will be for us to tackle the insurgency.”
He advised that the government should look inwards that there might be people behind the attacks.
The Chairman of the All Progressives Youth Forum, APYF, Ismaeel Ahmed says the Nigerian Government has been nonchalant in taking action concerning the security challenges in the country.
He criticized the manner in which the security issues had lingered, with issues getting the attention of social media and the international community before they get addressed.
He said that Nigerians feel a sense of abandonment because the Government, whose primary responsibility is to secure the lives and properties of the citizens, has abandoned them.
“Nigerians feel this way because a day after the Nyanya bomb blast in Abuja, the President went for a political rally”, he stressed.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Ahmed also expressed his displeasure at the Federal Government’s handling of the issue of the Chibok schoolgirls’ abduction.
“The President spoke about the Chibok girls a week and a half after it had trended on social media, the concentration was on the World Economic Forum, he didn’t address it”, he lamented.
Mr. Ahmed criticized the Government for not paying attention to Borno and other northern states under emergency rule, stating that it was the military and the Police that were in charge of security in the state and not the Governor.
He, therefore, urged the Government to take responsibility over the lives and properties of Nigerians and also be fast in taking decisions concerning the nation.