April 18, 2024

10 years after, stakeholders make case for abducted Chibok girls

US lawmakers pass resolution on Chibok girls, Boko Haram

Chibok girls

… demand safer schools in Nigeria

By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

Ten years after the abduction of Chibok girls of the Government Secondary School, Chibok Borno in April 14, 2014, concerned stakeholders have called for the secure release of the remaining 91 girls in captivity.

April 14, 2024, marks the 10th anniversary of the violent abduction of 276 girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, by Boko Haram insurgents.

While 57 of the girls escaped from their captors in the following days, 16 were later rescued and 107 had at different times been released through negotiations.

Speaking at a webinar organised by Global Rights, with the theme: “10 Years, 91 Girls Still Missing: Demanding Action for the Abducted Chibok Girls” the Executive Director, Invictus Africa, Bukky Shonibare, called on the federal government and all relevant stakeholders to ensure schools are well protected.

According to her, “We still see mass abductions in recent times to the point we ask how our security architecture is so relaxed that it is possible to abduct children in that large number.

“When we saw the abduction of the Chibok girls, it opened our eyes to the scale of what we are facing, not just in the protection of children but in terms of protection of education from any form of attack.

“It’s not just the question of the logistics and trying to understand how, Nigerians are asking questions on why is this still happening knowing that Chibok abduction happened and we expect that the Nigerian government would have learnt from that abduction and put every measure in place.

“That is still a question on the table in terms of are we doing the right thing to make sure that schools are secured, school personnel and children are secured.”

Government should bury its head in shame — Lawyer

A Lawyer, Gender and Development Consultant, Hassana Maina, expressed disappointment that some Chibiok girls were still in captivity.

She said, “These Chibok girls where my classmates. I was in Queens College Lagos as the time that these girls were abducted, I was 16 at the time.

“I remember the news from our press club during assembly and I immediately thought so people can just come into the school environment and pack us, because there were so many similarities between our school and theirs.

“I felt really unsafe and paranoid and it got me thinking about where we are as a nation. If this is how we expect young girls to grow. To grow thinking that they can just be picked up from school.

“It’s really an emotional thing for me, because it could really be me. We were the same age range and class preparing for the same exam.

“Now look at me, I have finished my university, masters and even set up my own organisation and look at how these other girls lives have been thrown away simply because the government has failed to protect.

“I’m really sad that 10 years later we are still talking about 91 girls still with their abductors. It’s unfortunate and embarrassing, the government should cover its face in shame.”

Failure of the Nigerian State responsible — Nextier

On his part, Chief Executive, Nextier SPD, Dr. Ndubuisi Nwokolo, attributed the ill happenings of kidnapping and insecurity to the failure of the Nigerian State.

He said, “How is it that so many years after our independence, we are still buying petrol to fuel our generators. With all the money we’ve committed we still cannot generate electricity for everyone.

“It shows the failure of the Nigerian State. Why it is possible that after 10 years we are unable to get these girls back is because the nature of the Nigerian State is designed in a way that makes it a failed State already, it does nothing good.

“Now, I’m not talking about government, I’m talking about the Nigerian State and all the institutions of the State from the judiciary, police and public service and to everything that is connected to the entity Nigeria as an issue. We don’t need to be nice about it.”

Roles CSOs can play — Youthhub Africa

Highlighting the role of CSOs in the matter, the Executive Director, Youthhub Africa, Rotimi, Olawale, emphasized the importance of gathering data for the government to use as well as not failing in holding the government accountable.

According to him, “We can help to aggregate the information around what is available and civil society can do research. It’s all about gathering data and helping government to make sense of this data. We can apply pressure nationally and internationally.

“We can mount pressure on government, we can show examples like the #bringbackourgirls campaign, we can show them what is possible, how government can organise itself, how they can name everybody that has been abducted.

“People have advocated for missing persons register, we’ve not seen that come to fruition very much, but we need to have modalities like that so that if someone gets missing we don’t have to crowdsource on social media. We need to have an active database across the country and these are the roles civil society can play.

“I also believe that it’s not all the time we have to fight the government, we also need to sit with the government in closed door policy rooms.

“Sometimes the government is looking for solutions and they don’t know what they do. We need to show them what to do. But as we collaborate with government we need to hold them accountable as well.”

In her closing remarks, the Executive Director, Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, appreciated all panelists and emphasized the need for equitable society.