On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, killing thousands of people and claiming territory in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states. Months later, as a result of the federal government’s negotiation with the insurgents, 21 of the kidnapped girls were released while another three were freed by soldiers but after one thousand days, many of the girls are still nowhere to be found. To commemorate the 1,000th day since the kidnap, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his message on Sunday, restated the federal government’s commitment to securing the release of the girls.
“We are grateful to God that on this landmark day, we are not completely in the depths of despair, but buoyed with hope that our daughters will yet rejoin their families and loved ones. Three of them have been recovered by our diligent military, while the freedom of 21 others was secured through engagement with their captors. We are hopeful that many more will still return as soon as practicable,” Buhari said.
He reiterated his pledge, pronounced many times in the past, that government would not spare any effort to reunite the girls with their families.
“I salute the fortitude of the distraught parents. As a parent also, I identify with their plight. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, months turned to years, and today, it is 1,000 days. The tears never dry, the ache is in our hearts. But hope remains constant, eternal, and we believe our pains will be assuaged. Our hopes will not be shattered, and our hearts will leap for joy, as more and more of our daughters return. It is a goal we remain steadfastly committed to,” the president said.
“Someday soon, we will all rejoice together. Our intelligence and security forces are unrelenting, and whatever it takes, we remain resolute. Chibok community, Nigeria, and, indeed, the world, will yet rise in brotherhood, to welcome our remaining girls back home. We trust God for that eventuality.”
In a statement signed by the spokesperson of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group, Sesuh Akume, the group said the statement by Mr Adesina that the remaining 195 girls will return ‘one day’ is sad and a reason why they will embark on their rally as planned.
Mr Adesina was quoted by the group as saying, ‘The President notes that the recovery raises renewed hope that the other captured girls will one day be reunited with their families, friends, and community.’
“Note that he said ‘… will ONE DAY be reunited with their families… ‘Not ‘as soon as it’s humanly possible.’ There is no tone of urgency. This confirms our doubts as to the federal government’s rescue mission,” BBOG said.
“Is the strategy that each one would escape of their own accord and be recovered for how long the process takes? This is excruciatingly pitiful,” the group said.
The group called on Nigerians to join its protests which commenced on January 8 to put pressure on the government to free the girls.
“We, therefore, go ahead with our #Day1000 activities with recommitted zeal. Activities have been confirmed to hold in New York (4 events on the same day 8 January), Washington DC, Paris, Lagos, and Abuja. Kindly join any close to you or organise one in your location”.
Amnesty International in its commemoration of the 1,000th day of the abduction, urged the Nigerian government to ensure the release of every person kidnapped by the Boko Haram.
“One thousand days after the chilling abduction of 276 school girls in Chibok, the Nigerian government must redouble its efforts to ensure the release of the girls, and all other victims of mass abduction,” it said.
“This terrible anniversary is a chilling reminder not just of the tragic disappearance of the Chibok school girls, but also all other individuals – many of whom are also children – who remain captive in Boko Haram’s hideouts across the country. These abductions and other attacks on civilians, many of which constitute war crimes, must stop,” said Makmid Kamara, Acting Country Director for Amnesty International Nigeria.
“While the Nigerian government is making considerable efforts to recover the 195 Chibok girls still in Boko Haram’s custody, we are concerned that victims of less well-publicised mass abductions have not benefited from comparable efforts to secure their release.”
“The Nigerian government should also dramatically step up its efforts to ensure the safe release of abductees and provide proper psychological and medical support to those who have already been rescued, released or have escaped captivity,” Mr Kamara added.
While there is still hope about rescuing the remaining Chibok girls and other undocumented young women and children who have also been kidnapped by the insurgents, if it took the Federal government about 1000 days to recover just 24 girls, how long will it take before the other 195 girls are found?