Leah Sharibu And The 112 “Forgotten” Chibok Girls
February 19th this year will mark exactly one year since Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped 110 school girls from Dapchi, Yobe State leaving a trail of pain and anguish in the hearts and minds of relatives of the innocent girls. And by April 14 it would be five years since the abduction of 276 girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok.
When 101 of the girls captured in Dapchi were released by their abductors on March 21 last year, it brought joy to their parents and relatives who had been tensed with apprehension about their safety.
The news of their release was also greeted with joy and optimism from the generality of Nigerians. That joy was not unconnected with the fact that being free from the captivity of such a deadly group as the Boko Haram is freedom indeed. It is because of the pain and torment the sect usually leaves in its trail after any of their attacks.
While it was reported that some of the girls died in captivity due to one health issue or the other and as a result of the condition they found themselves in the hands of the terrorists, one of the young girls that is yet to be released is 15-year-old Leah Sharibu. She was withheld by the insurgents because she refused to denounce and renounce her Christian faith.
Her heroism drew global recognition and commendation while some clergymen within the country also offered to sponsor her education to any level she wishes as soon as she is released.
It was hoped that she won’t last for too much longer in the den of the insurgents and that the government would do what is necessary to get her out. But several months after, there is still no hope that she would come back home soon.
While President Muhammadu Buhari had consistently assured the family members and Nigerians that his administration will do everything humanly possible to rescue her, such assurances have failed to materialize.
Is it a lack of will power on the side government or inability to meet the demands of the insurgents? Or is it just the meanness of the abductors? Nigerians can only guess as the government has not offered any more insight on the issue.
Out of the 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok on April 14 2014, the whereabout of 112 of the girls are still unknown nearly five years after. When the girls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, there was widespread condemnation from the globe. Notable personalities that lent their voices to the clamour for their release include the former US First Lady, Michelle Obama.
The then President Jonathan came under fire from within and outside the country for his inability to contain the sect that held a section of the country to ransom.
Fifty-seven of the girls managed to escape from their abductors in May 2016. One of the girls, Amina Ali escaped from their captivity. She claimed that six of them had died. A further 21 girls were freed in October 2016, while another was found in January 2017. Eighty-two others were also released on the 7th of May, 2017 after a third party negotiation with the terrorist sect. And in January 2018, one of the remaining girls was rescued.
With the fate of Leah Sharibu and the other remaining 112 Chibok School girls still hanging in balance and at the mercy of the deadly terrorist group, with no news about them any longer from the government, the BRINGBACKOURGIRLS Group maintains that the girls must not be abandoned with their captors any further.
The group which is spearheaded by ObyEzekwisili made their stand known when they made a match to the Presidency on October 16, 2018 said such insensitivity by the government to the agony of families is alien to the principles of social contract between government and citizens, and noted that the government’s silence of their rescue was unacceptable.
On their part, a spokesman for the Kibaku community in Chibok is still full of blames for ex-President Jonathan for making empty promises during his visit to the displaced people in the state.
While commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 2014 abduction April last year, parents of the Chibok girls pleaded with the Nigerian government to expedite action towards the rescue of the remaining girls, as it did in securing the release of Dapchi girls. Spokesman of the parents, Ayuba Chibok, said they desired to know the state of their daughters and when they would return home.
It could be recalled that the Nigerian Government in October 2016 expressed optimism that the remaining batch of the Chibok school girls would be released in no time. Minister of information, Lai Mohammed disclosed that “this is the beginning and we are very happy that very soon the last batch of the girls will be released. I want to assure you, Parents of those not released yet that negotiations are ongoing even as we speak”
President Muhammadu Buhari also assured that his administration was negotiating the Dapchi and the Chibok girls rescue. The president stated this in March 13, 2018, during the visit of the former US secretary of State, Rex Tillerson at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. His words: “Nigeria is working in concert with international organisations and negotiators, to ensure that they were released unharmed by their captors. We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive.”
The president again voiced his resolve at getting the remaining Chibok girls released in good health condition, during his meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset on December 4, 2018.
Now that everything about the release of the girls seem to have died down what then becomes of their fate?