from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – EIGHT years after their abduction, prospects are dim the government will rescue the 110 school girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram northeast of Nigeria.
They were among 276 mostly Christian students abducted on the night of April 14–15, 2014 at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.
The kidnapping of the females aged from 16 to 18 sparked global outrage and triggered the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.
The furore seems to have waned and the girls apparently forgotten.
Some girls escaped and others released by the Islamic terrorist group after a reported deal brokered by an international aid group.
“Eight years and counting 110 of them are still missing and more than half that number will never be found,” said Prince Charles Dickson, Team Lead at the Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRI Centre).
TRC Centre is a non-governmental organisation based in northern Nigeria.
Dickson concurred with former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, that some girls had already passed on.
“Many, most, half of these girls will never come back,” Obasanjo was quoted as saying.
Dickson noted Chibok itself had witnessed almost a dozen and more attacks since the girls were abducted.
The abduction of schoolchildren is the hallmark of Boko Haram, which has been carrying out attacks since 2009, in an effort to establish an Islamic state.
Amnesty International reports that over 1 500 children have been kidnapped.
This excludes hundreds that have been captured by so-called bandits in recent months.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) disclosed since December 2020, 1 436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools, and 16 school children lost their lives.
According to the agency, a total of 11 536 schools were closed since December 2020 due to abductions and security issues.
These school closures have impacted the education of approximately 1,3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year.
“Unsafe schools, occasioned by attacks on schools and abduction of students, are reprehensible, a brutal violation of the rights of the victims to education, and totally unacceptable,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria.
Dickson lamented that Chibok parents continue grieving and mourning, with irreparable pain, unaware of the whereabouts of their children.
“There may never be any closure. That fact is gruesomely scary,” he said.
The government of then-president, Goodluck Jonathan, was criticized for the insecurity at the time.
Former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari, defeated him in elections a year later, on a campaign premised partly on defeating the Boko Haram.
Buhari, who has previously declared the terror group had been “technically defeated”, will not be eligible in the next elections in 2023 because of term constraints.
“This administration would have spent eight years unable to fulfill this promise of safety, and security, simply blaming everyone but themselves, assuring themselves while no one is safe,” Dickson said.
Boko Haram’s attacks have waned in recent years of infighting.
Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, committed suicide last year with capture imminent by the rival group, Islamic State’s West Africa Province.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) in June 2021 reported that Boko Haram killed about 350 000 people in northeast Nigeria since 2009.
Ninety-percent are reportedly children.
– CAJ News