I was in SS3 preparing for my SSCE examination that year, when I woke up to the news that a terrible incidence had happened the previous night, 14 April 2014, that a group of militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, which is a majority Christian village. Reports averred that the terrorists broke into the school, pretending to be guards. Therein, from what I read, according to a diary written by two of the girls (Naomi Adamu and Sarah Samuel) the militants had intended to steal an “engine block” and were initially unsure what to do with the girls. They told the girls to get out and come with them. Some girls were loaded into trucks and the rest had to walk several miles until other trucks came to take them away possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram were known to have fortified camps. Houses in Chibok were also burned down in that forlorn incident.
According to the Premium Times, there were at least 530 students from variant villages registered for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, although it is unclear how many were in attendance at the time of the attack. It was said that the students were aged 16 to 18 and were in relevantly in their final year. Blatantly, there was initial hanky panky over the number of girls kidnapped but on 21 April 2014, parents said 234 girls were missing. Yet again, It was said that a number of the students escaped the kidnappers by jumping off the trucks. According to the police, approximately 276 children were still missing. Meanwhile, Amnesty International reports believed that the Nigerian military had four hours’ advance warning of the kidnapping, but failed to send reinforcements to protect the school. Nigeria’s armed forces have confirmed that the Nigerian military had four-hour advance notice of the attack but said that their over-extended forces were unable to mobilize reinforcements. Again, Jonathan N.C. Hill of King’s College London, also pointed out that Boko Haram kidnapped these girls after coming increasingly under the influence of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and asserts that the group’s goal is to use girls and young women as sexual objects and as a means of intimidating the civilian population into compliance. Hill described the attacks as similar to kidnapping of girls in Algeria in the 1990s and early 2000.
Yet again in further development, according to CS Monitor, it was reported that the Christians students, which were the overwhelming majority of the kidnapped girls were forced to convert to Islam. Also the same report surfaced that the girls were forced into marriage with members of Boko Haram, with a reputed “bride price” of ₦ 2,000 each. Similarly, according to The rainbow, many of the students were taken to the neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroon, with sightings reported of the students crossing borders with the militants, and sightings of the students by villagers living in the Sambisa Forest. The forest was considered a refuge for Boko Haram. Local residents were able to track the movements of the students with the help of contacts across north eastern Nigeria. A diary described how some girls escaped but were returned to Boko Haram by local villagers and whipped.
Moreso, it was also reported by international media that a journalist-brokered deal to secure the release of the girls in exchange for 100 Boko Haram prisoners held in Nigerian jails was scrapped at a late stage on 24 May 2014 after President Goodluck Jonathan consulted with U.S., Israeli, French and British foreign ministers in Paris, where the consensus was that no deals should be struck with terrorists, and that a solution involving force was required. Wherefore in 2015, Lamb Christina of Sunday times, wrote about Stephen Davis, a former Anglican clergyman, who contacted three Boko Haram commanders who said they might be prepared to release Chibok schoolgirls and went to Nigeria in April 2015. He was given proof of life (a video of them being raped) and was told 18 were seriously ill, some with HIV. Davis got initial agreement that Boko Haram would release these ill girls. However, after three attempts the deal fell through when another group abducted the girls believing they could make money out of them and Davis left Nigeria.
Withal again in January 2016, BBC news unfurled that the Nigerian military were reported to have freed 1,000 women held captive by Boko Haram but none of them were Chibok girls. More likely, In April 2016 Boko Haram released a video showing 15 girls who appeared to be some of the kidnapped Chibok girls. The video was apparently taken in December 2015 and the girls seemed to be well fed and not distressed. Pressing again, on 17 May 2016, Amina Ali Nkeki, one of the girls was found along with her baby and Mohammad Hayyatu, a suspected Boko Haram militant who claimed to be her husband, by the vigilante Civilian Joint Task Force group in the Sambisa Forest. All three were suffering from severe malnutrition. BBC reported that she was then taken to house of the group’s leader Aboku Gaji who recognised her. The group then reunited the girl with her parents. Then, she met Nigerian PresidentMuhammadu Buhari on 19 May. Government officials announced the same day that the Nigerian army and vigilante groups had killed 35 Boko Haram militants, freed 97 women and children and claimed one of the women was a Chibok schoolgirl.
In October 2016, from BBC reports, It was highlighted that 21 of the Chibok schoolgirls had been freed by Boko Haram after negotiations between the group and the Nigerian government brokered by International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government. On 16 October, President Buhari’s spokesperson stated that the ISIL-allied faction of Boko Haram was willing to negotiate the release of 83 more of the girls. According to him, the splinter group had stated that the rest of the girls were under the control of Shekau-led faction. 2 days later, Pogu Bitrus, the chairman of the Chibok Development Association, claimed that more than 100 of the missing girls apparently did not want to return home because they had either been brainwashed or were fearful of the stigma they will receive.
Also, according to Parkinson Joe’s account of Wall Street Journal, In February 2018 most of the released girls were studying at the American University of Nigeria not far from the original scene of the kidnapping at Chibok. It was estimated that 13 girls were presumed dead and 112 were still missing. In September 2018, Ali Garga, a Boko Haram militant, offered to free 40 of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls. However, he was tortured and killed by other Boko Haram members when they found out what he was doing. Today, many Chibok girls are still missing.
There again, barely in 300 level at the University, I heard of another shocking kidnap news on February 19, 2018, where 110 schoolgirls aged 11 to 19 years old were abducted again by the Boko Haram terrorist group from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi Yobe State. Unlike the approach to the Chibok incident, the Federal Government of Nigeria deployed the Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies to search for the missing schoolgirls and to hopefully enable their return.
Seemingly, as reported by the Guradian Nigeria, This Day and Vanguard News, on 21 March 2018, the Federal government of Nigeria unfurled that Boko Haram terrorists had returned 106 of the kidnapped children, including 104 girls who went to school, one girl who did not and a boy. Howbeit pathetically, a particular girl wasn’t released with them. Leah Sharibu by name. In the light of the situation, an account of the Dapchi ordeal to her parents told Agence France-Presse that the group would only release her if she converted to Islam. The group dropped them off in the town in nine vehicles. Information minister Lai Mohammed yet stated that the release was unconditional. But days later, the United Nation stated in its report that the government had paid a huge ransom for the release. The fighters after releasing the girls warned their parents not to put them in school again. Some of the kidnapped girls stated that five of the schoolgirls had died on the same day they were kidnapped by the terrorist group.
it was clear that Leah Sharibu, a Christian schoolgirl aged fourteen at the time of her capture, is the only remaining Dapichi schoolgirl still held hostage. After the others were released, some told The Guardian newspaper that Leah had previously escaped from her abductors but was intercepted and returned to her abductors by a nomadic Fulani family. Leah was reportedly not released along with the other children, because she refused to convert to Islam.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, she has subsequently been given to a Boko Haram fighter as a slave. In August 2018 an audio was released of Leah pleading for her freedom. In October 2018 her parents revealed that Boko Haram had threatened to kill her later that month, should the government not meet their demands. Again, In February 2019 social media reports circulated about her death, but were dismissed by the government as politically motivated disinformation. Today, after spending over two years in captivity, in January 2020, it was widely reported that Leah had given birth to a baby boy after being forcefully converted to Islam and married off to a Boko Haram commander. Hence, Her father, Nathan Sharibu dismissed the report saying that he would not want to hear such news. Leah is still relevantly missing.
Yet again, for the third time in the space of six years, and now in my final year, another abduction story occured again. It was again reported by the media that during the evening of 11 December 2020, hundreds of pupils were kidnapped from a boys’ secondary boarding school in Kankara, Katsina State, northern Nigeria. As A gang of gunmen on motorcycles attacked the Government Science Secondary School, where more than 800 pupils reside, for over an hour. Yet more, on 12 December, the armed forces said they found the gang’s hideout in a forest and exchanged gunfire with them. Hence, 333 pupils are still missing, as of 15 December.
Still on that same 15th of December, the leader of Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria six years ago, has claimed responsibility for the mass abduction of students in north-western Katsina state last week. In an audio tape released on Tuesday, Abubakar Shekau said: “Our brothers were behind the abduction in Kastina”. As Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school dormitory in Chibok, in north-eastern Borno state, in April 2014 and about 100 are still missing. The group has also taken other schoolchildren as well as thousands of people across north-east Nigeria and has recently expanded into the country’s north-west. Now, media detect that there is doubt over the direct involvement of Boko Haram in the latest mass abduction, however. Shekau’s statement lacked detail, and officials in Katsina have already received ransom demands from a group of bandits that witnesses said were responsible.
According to the guardian, one western official working in counter-terrorism in the region said it was possible bandits may have transferred some or all of the kidnapped schoolboys to the extremists in return for money, weapons or other resources. Across the entire Sahel region, there are close relations between armed criminals, traffickers and Islamist extremists. You should know that these days kidnappings for ransom by bandits have become commonplace across much of the country, but most especially in north-west in recent years, with frequent ambushes on roads, as well as fatal robberies targeting cattle and food. Towns close to forests stretching across north-west Nigeria and into Niger have been the most vulnerable to attacks. According to Amnesty International, 1,126 people were killed by bandits in Nigeria between January and June this year. While “banditry” encompasses a range of criminal activity, many of the recent large-scale armed attacks are suspected to have been carried out by assailants from the semi-nomadic Fulani community.
Today, it is necessary for a sane mind to ask the questions of where are the remaining Chibok girls? Are they still alive or dead? Or are they already married to this inhumane kidnappers as claimed by some people? One should also ask that where is Leah, from the Dapchi kidnap? Why must her faith delay her in the lion’s den? That is she probably alive or murdered? That what are the Nigerian Government doing to rescue these girls, many years and counting? More pathetically, another set of 333 boys have been kidnapped this time to God knows where they are or what they will be used for. Only God knows if they will be brainwashed into terrorism or perhaps killed in a watershed. Wait! What is the Nigerian Government doing? Why do the lives of Nigerians do not ring a bell to in their hears. Again, you ask why is terrorism still on the hot surface? Why has successive military efforts failed to destroy Boko Haram and Shekau has been reported dead on multiple occasions? Why? Why is our military intelligence suffering in deficiency? It’s such a pity today that the Buhari administration has not responded to this situation with the urgency, seriousness and tact it requires. It’s no news that our President hasn’t visited the crime scene but instead visited his most precious animals over the lives of the Nigerian future.
True, different military operations have been launched, but it’s clear that all of them are understaffed, under-skilled and underfunded. Nobody knows the next group of students that will be kidnap, whether it’s in Kaduna, Kano, Niger or Zamfara. The Nigerian Government doesn’t care about human lives and property, abandoing her people to run in this hopeless circle. I just hope someone is reading this story to.
Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun