It has been almost 20
months since April 2014 when news of the mass kidnap of girls from Government
Secondary School in Chibok, North East Nigeria by terrorists came to light.
This is one of the most mysterious cases of mass disappearance in human history
as the girls, it seems, have just disappeared without a single trace.
Since then, all
efforts to find and rescue the girls have proved abortive. The Nigerian
military so far has not been able to find these girls. International rescue
efforts called in as a result of the worldwide brouhaha generated by the girls’
disappearance has also proved unsuccessful. Since the Chibok girls, hundreds of
other kidnapped villagers including women and children have been found and
rescued and many continued to be rescued. As recently as mid October 2015,
there were reports of about 350 captives being rescued by the military, but not
this group of girls.
More poignantly,
President Buhari, who rode to victory based on his condemnation of the past
government’s seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards this issue seem to have
lost interest. Buhari promised to bring these girls back home as soon as
possible once he gets into power. So far, there are no reports of any efforts
to achieve this goal since his inauguration in May 2015.
No one in Nigeria is
talking about the Chibok girls anymore.
President Buhari and
his government are no longer talking about the Chibok girls or making any
references to them as a government priority. The Nigerian military are no
longer talking about the Chibok girls nor are they providing updates about
rescue efforts. Once in a while, the founders of Bring Back Our Girls campaign
led by Oby Ezekwesili organises meetings at Unity Square in Abuja with a
handful of people attending and then it is silence – until another low key
activity happens – in comparison to the first few months or so when rallies
were held on a daily basis in Abuja and other cities. The Nigerian media are no
longer talking about the Chibok girls – no features, no articles and no
coverage. Even the whole world which was incensed by news of the disappearance
has gone quiet about the Chibok girls.
This turn of events
has left many people bewildered. Questions are being asked about the reality of
Chibok girls with an increasing number of people expressing doubts that girls
were kidnapped in the first place. Cynics go as far as describing the case to
be a politically motivated effort by the then opposition party to discredit the
then government of Goodluck Jonathan. Others claim that girls were kidnapped
but not as many as the numbers being peddled about by the media.
Indeed, this is a most
baffling case. My own issue, having campaigned about this earlier on after the
news broke, held events here in London in partnership with others, including in
the UK House of Parliament, spoken at numerous events and written articles
about this is that, 20 months later, were girls really kidnapped from Chibok
and if yes, how come we haven’t heard anything at all about them in all these
months? If girls were kidnapped from Chibok on the 14th of April 2014, then
when are they coming back home?
The government of
Nigeria cannot continue to keep quiet about this matter. People need to know
what has become of the Chibok girls and what efforts are being made to rescue
them. People also need to know if they will ever be rescued. The girls’ parents
in particular need some form of closure. At the other end, the hard question
also needs to be asked: “Were any girls really kidnapped from Chibok?