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Chibok Schoolgirls: 10 Years After

Exactly 10 years ago, on April 14, 2014, Nigeria was hit by a disaster of monumental proportion, the abduction of 276 school girls from Chibok…

Exactly 10 years ago, on April 14, 2014, Nigeria was hit by a disaster of monumental proportion, the abduction of 276 school girls from Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State. A hitherto sleepy town, almost unknown to people in most parts of Nigeria until then, was shot into the limelight in the most unfortunate circumstances.  The female students, aged between 16 and 18, were taken from a Government Secondary School in the dead of the night. They were supposed to be taking their final examinations when the disaster struck.   Over 50 of them, it was gathered, were able to escape almost immediately by jumping off the truck which was conveying them into the bushes. Sadly, 10 years after, about 90 are still in captivity.

The grief was not borne by people of Chibok or Maiduguri or even the North East alone, it transcended the length and breadth of the entire country and beyond. Indeed, the Boko Haram insurgents had been carrying out atrocities long before then, but it was the first time, they had been so brazen, taking over 200 students in one fell swoop.  Many Nigerians wondered about the boldness exhibited by the group, as information revealed that the girls were hurled onto a truck and taken away. The fear that gripped the country was palpable. Many were in shock.

The incident was trailed by confusion from parents, relatives, ordinary Nigerians and government alike. The situation was made worse with the initial denial by some officials of government at that time, who insisted that no one was taken.  Indeed, it took a while for the reality to dawn on some persons or for them to admit that a huge disaster had occurred.   For days and weeks, Nigerians waited in berthed breath for news of the return or rescue of the girls.

It took about two years for any of that to occur. The incident drew the attention of the world with many showing solidarity with the Bring Back Our Girls’ group, an association which was borne out of the need to create awareness and push for the rescue of the girls. Notable Nigerians and members of the International community, including the then wife of the American president, Michelle Obama, showed solidarity with the group and Nigeria as a whole.

Chibok Schoolgirls: 10 Years After

I can’t believe that after 10 years, we are still talking about Chibok girls in captivity — Aisha Yesufu

Daily, we saw the parents express their plight with consistent calls on the government and all relevant parties to help in rescuing the children.  Since then, some have been released, others rescued by security operatives; while some who escaped their captors were seen and reunited with their families.

For a region battling high rate of out-of-school children, especially among the female population, the incident  was indeed a huge setback for efforts aimed at addressing the problem.

With that incident, a new chapter was born in the security situation in the country as Nigeria has, since then, witnessed many of such attacks on schools in Nigeria. And lately, it has moved beyond secondary schools to tertiary institutions, as seen in the abduction of students of the Federal University, Gusau in Zamfara State, Federal University, Dutsin-ma in Katsina State, Federal University of Lafia in Nasarawa State and Federal University Wukari in Taraba State, among others.

As the nation reminisces on this unfortunate incident, the general thought of most Nigerians is for the rescue of all the Chibok girls taken on that fateful night and an end to attacks on schools in the country. In this special publication, we take you down memory lane. Daily Trust returned to the community where it happened, featuring a town which has become a shadow of itself.  We also spoke to parents of students who are still missing 10 years after, who do not know whether to mourn the death of their children or to keep on hoping that one day, they will reunite with their loved ones.  We spoke to the co-founder of the BringBackOurGirls group, who insists that the nation failed the girls. We also spoke to the commissioner of education in Borno State, when the incident occurred. For him, politicisation of the issue delayed the rescue operation. A journalist, who was right in the middle of it all, also shared his experiences and thoughts with us.

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