Amnesty International has disclosed that nine years after Boko Haram terrorists abducted 276 students from a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, 98 are still being held captive by the Islamic sect.
Recall that the students of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, were abducted from their school on April 14, 2014.
The incident sparked local and international outrage with political leaders, activists, feminists and advocates, putting pressure on the Nigerian government under President Goodluck Jonathan to rescue the girls while offering intelligence and support.
Amnesty International noted that a slew of abductions had taken place since, “revealing the utter failure of the Nigerian authorities to learn from the heartbreak of Chibok and, ultimately, to protect children.”
The rights body added that since the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram, a plethora of schools had been targeted, with girls being abducted, raped, killed or forced into “marriages”.
In a statement in Abuja on Friday, the Acting Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, said the Nigerian authorities, however, had not carried out a single credible investigation into the security failures that left children vulnerable to the atrocities committed by Boko Haram and gunmen.
Sanusi said, “Parents of the 98 Chibok schoolgirls who are still being held by Boko Haram— as well as other children abducted by gunmen— are living in anguish, knowing that their children are in the hands of ruthless individuals who subject their loved ones to chilling brutalities.
“It is beyond time that the Nigerian authorities took meaningful action to counter armed groups like Boko Haram and gunmen. Nigeria has an obligation to implement safeguards to protect all children, and the lack of accountability for these callous crimes is fueling impunity. The missing Chibok school girls should be returned home to their families, and all those responsible for committing grave violations must face justice.”
He added that between December 2020 and March 2021, there had been at least five reported cases of abductions in northern Nigeria, including from schools, at Kankara, Kagara, Jangebe, Damishi Kaduna, Tegina and Yawuri while the threat of further attacks had led to the closure of over 600 schools in the north of the country.
At the end of March, Amnesty International said it interviewed five Chibok schoolgirls who had escaped from Boko Haram and their parents.
In the interview they said they had lost almost all hope that the other 98 girls would ever be rescued.
One of the returnees told Amnesty International, “The Nigerian government should not forget about the remaining 98 girls. They should be rescued. Every morning I wake up and recall the condition I left them in. I cry, I feel sorry for them. Nine years is too long to be in such a deplorable condition. The government must fulfill its promise of rescuing all the girls.”
One of the parents told the international human rights body that, “Our pain is endless because 14 of the girls came back with 24 children. We have with us grandchildren whose fathers are unknown to us. Our burden has now multiplied as we do not have the money to bear the additional burden of feeding, educating, and [providing] healthcare for our returnee children and grandchildren.
“This is in addition to the societal rejection and stigma that we are all facing. We are just hopeless!”
Since February 2021, the northern region has suffered repeated attacks on schools and religious institutions. Of the more than 780 children who have been abducted for ransom, more than 61 children are still being held in captivity two years after they were abducted by gunmen. Many schools in the region were shuttered— and remain closed— due to rising insecurity.
“Rescuing the remaining Chibok girls is of paramount importance; the task of finding them should not become yet another failed project of the government. It is absolutely crucial that the outgoing government of Nigeria does all in its power to bring these girls — as well as all other children being held by various armed groups— home to their families”, Isa Sanusi said.