Thursday, August 27

#BringBackOurGirls: 500 Days Since Chibok Girls Were Abducted In Nigeria And Still No Trace

500 Days Since Chibok Girls Were Abducted In Nigeria And Still No Trace

Today marks 500 days since Chibok girls were kidnapped from their school in Borno state by Boko Haram members

500 days away from their family and friends. When 276 girls were abducted on the night of April 14, 2014, from Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State, nobody imagined that they would still be missing more than one year after. But reality has dawned today not only for their grieving parents but indeed for all Nigerians: 500 days on, we still don’t have any clue as to where the girls are and how many of them are still alive.
500 Days Since Chibok Girls Were Abducted In Nigeria And Still No Trace
Some of the abducted girls


Even the 57 (of the girls) who found their way back to safety in the weeks following their abduction are still struggling to come to terms with the realities of having to adjust to living as 'normal' a life as is possible, after such a traumatic ordeal. One can then imagine the fate of those still in captivity.

However, with the new resolve by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to end the insurgency within the shortest possible timeframe, Nigerians continue to hope that all the girls will be brought home, sooner than later.

For sure, the military has been re-invigorated and motivated with new leadership and the requisite equipment to tame the fighting capacity of the insurgents. Targeted bombings within the dreaded Sambisa forest, where the insurgents are said to be hiding in various bunkers, have begun in earnest. Rumours abound about some discreet negotiations being held towards safely rescuing the girls. With the goodwill and confidence that the new dispensation enjoys in this renewed war, it is sincerely hoped that they are well founded. But the tragedy goes beyond the fate of the Chibok girls.

From recent accounts, almost 2,000 unnamed citizens of our country have been held captive by the terrorists. To all intents and purposes these persons were 'invisible', never having been reported as missing in any official records or capacity. They were kidnapped individually or in relatively smaller batches, over the period of three years that the insurgents were ravaging the communities in the North East. Had they never been found, therefore, hardly anyone would have known that such staggering numbers were in captivity.
500 Days Since Chibok Girls Were Abducted In Nigeria And Still No Trace
Some of the abducted girls

Indeed, the heinous incident at Chibok only appears to have raised national and international alarm because of the sheer number of young girls that were carted away in one fell swoop, and from a space everyone presumed to be safe: their school premises. One step that must be taken, therefore, is for the federal, state and local governments to open a Missing Persons' Register and Bureau, if only to enable the tracking of our more vulnerable citizens, thereby assuring of their welfare and wellbeing.

As we set about treating and rehabilitating our traumatised, vulnerable and homeless fellow citizens, we must institute clear mechanisms for synergising the efforts, as well as monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the projects and programmes of the sundry bodies established for reconstructing lives and communities.

These initiatives include those being handled by the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees, the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, the Presidential Initiative for the North East, the Victims Support Fund, the Safe Schools Initiative and the Countering Violent Initiative in the Office of the National Security Adviser.

500 Days Since Chibok Girls Were Abducted In Nigeria And Still No Trace
Bring Back Our Girls Group
On a day such as this, it is important that all well-meaning people of the world, who simply find it unimaginable that young girls should remain in the custody of terrorists for such a long period of time, continue to support efforts and initiatives aimed at ensuring the swift and safe return of the Chibok girls.

We are aware that a series of activities have been slated in Nigeria as well as around the world to remind everyone about the Chibok girls but those efforts should go beyond mere symbolism.

Finally, we cannot but commend the leadership of #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) for keeping the issue on the front-burner all these days and weeks. By their sacrifice, the Chibok girls have come to symbolise all the other individuals, known and unknown, who have been abducted and kept against their will, by the Boko Haram insurgents. For the sake of our humanity, we must find closure on this issue of the abducted Chibok girls, otherwise we will remain tormented by the failure to stand by our most vulnerable when they needed us the most.

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