Members of Chibok community, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group, Amnesty International, civil society groups aside individuals attended the 7th anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Abuja on Wednesday, 14.
Seven years since Boko Haram gunmen seized 276 girls aged between 12 and 17 from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State calls have been reignited for the rescue of the missing schoolgirls.
Although most of the 276 girls escaped or were later released, more than 112 girls are still missing.
In a statement to mark the anniversary, Amnesty International blamed the Federal Government for failure to learn from the Chibok attack and protect school children from attacks.
“The Nigerian authorities’ failure to protect schoolchildren from recent attacks clearly shows that no lessons have been learned from the Chibok tragedy. The authorities’ only response to schoolchildren being targeted by insurgents and gunmen is to close schools, which is increasingly putting the right to education at risk,” Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho said, adding that, “Whatever authorities are doing to tame this tide, it is not working.”
“Even as we observe that other atrocities against Nigerian children and students assault the sensibilities of Nigerians, and those of the children are returned to their families; the fate of our missing 112 Chibok girls and the continuing trauma of Chibok parents and their communities are slipping from the public consciousness and are no longer a priority for the Federal Government,” the group said in a statement announcing a renewed global campaign for the return of the missing girls.
The BBOG group which is one of the largest campaign groups for the return of the girls also held a lecture with speakers at the event lamenting the silence of the Federal Government.
“Seven years today, 219 young women who trusted our country to protect them, were abducted from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State. One hundred and twelve -112 of our girls and Leah Sharibu are still unaccounted by @NGRPresident. No word. No closure,” Oby Ezekwesili one of the founders of the campaign group said.
A vocal critic of the Nigerian Government, Aisha Yesufu, also at the event said the campaigners calling for the release of the girls should not stop or relent their efforts despite the government’s silence.
Yusufu said the wave of insecurity in Nigeria, especially Northern states is “creating a generation of children whose education has been permanently dented.”
BBOG plans from April 14, 2021, to hold a series of events in Lagos, Abuja, New York, and Chibok to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the abduction.
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State also commemorated the missing schoolgirls, seven years after. He is optimistic that the abducted Chibok schoolgirls will be rescued.
“As a father of all sons and daughters of Borno, I haven’t lost hope that our remaining Chibok schoolgirls and other abducted persons will be safely recovered,” the governor said, reigniting hopes that the students still in the kidnappers’ den will reunite with their parents.
While critics have lashed out at the Federal Government over its inability to rescue the schoolgirls, Governor Zulum says President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned as the parents of the Chibok girls about the development.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 pledged that his government will not rest until the remaining Chibok girls are safely released.
The President, during a bilateral meeting with Swiss President, Alain Berset, on the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP24 in Katowice, Poland assured that strategies are in place to ensure the safe return of the girls, building on the past successes of securing the release of some of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.
“We will continue to make the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls a priority and will welcome any kind of support from any quarters to make this happen,” Buhari said.
But years after President Buhari’s assurance, many more abductions and kidnappings have taken place in schools in Northern Nigeria.
On Friday of 11 December 2020, at about 9:30 pm, gunshots were heard within the premises of Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Kastina state, northwest Nigeria.
The gunmen, dressed in military uniforms broke into dormitories and went away with students numbering over 300 students.
The students were held in captivity for six nights until their release on 17 December 2020.
Again, about a month later, on 17 February 2021, 27 students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kagara, Niger State, were abducted by gunmen from their dormitory in the early hours of the morning. The students were released on 27 February.
In another raid on 26 February 2021, hundreds of schoolgirls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state. After four days in captivity, 279 of the students were released on 2 March.
Yet again in March 2021, two different schools were attacked in Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria, including the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization where 30 students were seized on 11 March.