Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Kidnapped Chibok girls: The facts and fiction

On April 14, 2014, Nigerians woke to the shocking news that over 200 girls had been abducted from the Federal Girls College, Chibok, Borno State. Of course, the culprits were no other than the terror of the moment, the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents.

The kidnapping generated waves and tension across the nation, and was heightened by the opposition party’s propaganda which roped the then President Goodluck Jonathan as being unconcerned about the whole issue as he was said to be dancing at a political rally in Kano the next day.

With the springing up of the BringBackOurGirls movement, was by the former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, and endorsed by almost all the world organizations, entertainers and leaders, prominent among them, Mrs. Michelle Obama, the wife of the America President, Mr. Barak Obama, hope was in the air the girls will return before long. But just a few days to two exact years, there is nothing to show that those innocent school girls will ever smell their home country again. And the world seems silent and defeated.

Much as from isolated corners, people still call for the release or rescue of the girls, there are just a minute few who believed there is substance in the call.

Even the most optimistic of minds has come to the realization that hope was long gone even as they continue to hope against hope. It s not hard to imagine though what may have happened to the inexperienced girls left in the ‘care’ of people with animalistic tendencies. No one expect any good.

Many have reasoned that bringing back the girls at this time, if for any reason, they are still alive, will be more dangerous than the pains their departure caused.

A female Boko Haram victim, identified simply as Hajiya Aishatu, was once quoted as saying that ‘bringing back the Chibok girls would amount to importing vampires into Nigeria’ considering the fact that they so mingled with mindless set of people, who have zero respect for the sanctity of human lives

 “Chibok girls are not existing anywhere in the world, most of them had been used as suicide bombers by those who abducted them. Young girls involved in suicide attacks in the last two years till date were the Chibok girls, it will be a waste of time for anyone to be talking of rescuing Chibok girls.”

Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed similar sentiment on Friday, February 5, 2016, when he said that anyone who promises to rescue the girls is telling lies.

“Anyone saying they (Chibok girls) will return is telling lies…”

This was in furtherance of an earlier assessment he made of the situation in 2014 during an interview with Rosie Collyer of Radio France Internationale (RFI).

“We will never be able to get those girls again. And the story of those girls will go on for the next 30 years.

“Some of them will come out when they are adults or they will be sent back when they are pregnant by those who have captured them. If anyone is thinking of being able to get those girls released intact, he must be day dreaming,” he added.

But in obvious optimism, as unfounded as it might seem, a Kaduna State Senator, Shehu Sani believes that the girls are alive and can still be rescued.

“Something that has bothered some of us here in line with the insurgency is, when will the Chibok girls be freed?” he said while speaking at a symposium in Akure, Ondo State.

“Someone said the Chibok girls will never be free, but I can tell you that they will be free and they are alive.

“They said they were going to free the girls on the condition we freed their people. And when we came to the negotiating table, and the government said it cannot free the terrorists because they have done a lot of harm,” he added.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, has expressed a willingness to negotiate with Boko Haram sect to secure the girls’ release, but on one condition, and that is only if he can verify the credibility of the sect’s leadership.

“We have to be very careful about the credibility of various Boko Haram leadership coming up and claiming that they can deliver. We have to be very careful indeed and we are taking our time because we want to bring them safe back to their parents and their school,” Buhari said on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, during an interview on CNN with Christiane Amanpour.

When asked if he was against negotiating with Boko Haram, he said:

“I cannot be against it because as I told you our main objective as a government is to rescue those girls back to their schools and rehabilitate them back. If we are convinced that the leadership that presented itself can deliver those girls safe and sound, we will be prepared to negotiate what they want.”

However, during the Presidential Media Chat on Wednesday, December 30, 2015, Buhari admitted that the girls’ whereabouts were still unknown.

“There has been no firm intelligence where those girls are physical, and what condition they are in,” the president said.

The Buhari government however showed that it was tiring of calls to rescue the girls during a meeting with the BBOG group and the girls’ parents on January 14, 2016.

According to BBOG coordinator, Oby Ezekwesili, Buhari failed to “connect” with the parents during the meeting while the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan said that the Chibok girls weren’t abducted under Buhari’s administration. It is not known if Madam Women Affairs, who would have become the Governor of Taraba State, was insinuating that should the Federal Government have nothing to do with it even as the president.

The continued captivity of the Chibok girls is a tragedy because their parents might never be able to find peace until they at least see their children’s corpses.

The military is clearing Boko Haram camps daily and claiming successes against the group. The terrorists are going hungry and surrendering to avoid starvation. But of everything found so far, nothing has a pointer to the much elusive Chibok. Where are they therefore? Did they ever exist? Will they ever be found?

This article originally appeared on The Boss Newspapers