6 years after, Chibok parents wish for only one thing

NEWS DIGEST – Parents of 112 missing Chibok girls remain optimistic that their daughters are alive, waiting for the government or anyone else to rescue them.

The girls were abducted on this day, seven years ago, by Islamic jihadist group, Boko Haram in one of the high-profile attacks on girl education since the country’s independence.

Boko Haram, whose name preaches against western education in the North, raided the town in Chibok, Borno state, in the middle of the night and abducted 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School.

While a fraction of the girls was able to escape during transport, more than 200 girls were retained in Boko-Haram camps within the Sambisa forest, a location of strength for the terrorists.

After effecting the abduction, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the faction responsible for the abduction, said in his public address that “Allah instructed me to sell them…I will carry out his instructions.”

In August 2016, Boko Haram released a footage of the girls holding babies in their arms and demanded that jailed fighters be released in exchange for the girls. Boko Haram claimed that 40 girls had been married off and a significant number had been killed in rescue attempts featuring Nigerian airstrikes.

Before then, President Buhari, in his inauguration speech of 29 May 2015, had mentioned that the defeat of Boko Haram would not be complete without the rescue of the girls.

“This government will do all it can to rescue them alive,” President Buhari told gathered crowds at his first inauguration ceremony as president.

The president reiterated, later in 2015, his willingness to negotiate the release of the girls.

Today, a fraction of these parents have passed on from depression and blood pressure-related complications since their daughters were abducted.

Allen Manasseh, a member of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group told Arise TV on Wednesday that the complications were due to the prolonged wait for their children.

The government is being accused of not putting enough effort towards recovering the missing 112 girls.

“The Chibok girls issue was domiciled in the ministry of women affairs … periodically, all that happens is when it’s the commemoration of April 14, some people will be mobilised to go to Chibok with some bags of rice and some change to be given to Chibok parents,” Manasseh said.

These parents would wish for nothing more than to see their girls.

Some still visit the scene of the abduction on its anniversary every year to pray, Yana Galang, a parent of one of the missing girls, told Stephanie Busari, a journalist with CNN.

Yana said they wept like it had just happened.

Bulama Jonah, another parent, told Daily Trust that he wishes he lives to see his daughter “Amina” again before he dies.

Bulama said a lack of communication on the matter by President Buhari’s government has left many families in confusion and led to the death of some others.

Of the 17 parents he knows to have died since the abduction, Bulama gave the names of 15.

Stover Mainta, Mainta Tahi, Mutah Sakwa, Mutah Haruna, Malam Koji, Mrs. William Askira, Mary Paul Lalai, Ali Nkiki, James Bello, Usman Uffa, Musa Higwar, Nuhu Mutah, Haruna Thilaimakalama, Solomi Yama and Watsai Papu.

Musa also wishes to see his daughter again, even if it would be to bury her dead body so he could know peace and carry on with his life.

“It is always better for children to bury their parents and not the other way round,” Musa told Sahara Reporters. “Sadly, our predicament is worse because we are not even sure if our daughters are alive.”

The Chibok abduction of 2014 caused international outrage with over 2.3 million tweets gathered in just under a month of the abduction, courtesy of the famous #BringBackOurGirls campaign.  Former first-lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, would carry a placard to support the movement.

The girls were aged 16 to 18.