The girls of Chibok
AFTER what seemed like a collective and tragic amnesia on the part of all, the renewed demand by the United Nations Security Council and other citizens of the world on Boko Haram fundamentalists to immediately free from its custody the schoolgirls seized from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on April 14, 2014 is a reassuring development. Indeed now, almost a year after their abduction, the plight of these girls must stir the conscience of humanity as never before.
The continued detention of the girls by Boko Haram and the seeming forgetfulness of many since then is a sad indication of how humanity may have taken flight from all while business has continued as usual. However, the bigotry of a few must not be allowed to override the collective humanity of the majority with a conscience. That, in essence, has been the message of the group #Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) whose members’ resolve to keep alive the narrative of the abducted girls must be commended.
After 300 days in servitude, can the girls and hundreds of other victims be saved? Campaigns and 2015 elections have preoccupied the minds of Nigeria’s political leaders and they have failed to do enough to save the girls. This is a shame. Fundamentalists seized upon obvious gaps in security, stormed the girls’ hostel as they prepared for school certificate examinations, and herded them into trucks – away into oblivion not to be seen till date.
Across the world, the abduction touched the hearts of millions of people who expressed outrage. About a year after, however, the cry for the girls’ release seems to have waned, understandably, especially as many more grievous and murderous occurrences have been recorded to overshadow the tragedy of Chibok. Even now, the rampaging forces gunning for territorial space are yet to relent in their orgy of violence and destruction of lives and property.
The UN and others who are determined to keep the girls’ abduction on the front burner have done well to call for immediate cessation of “all hostilities and all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law” by a group that perpetrates kidnappings, killings, hostage-taking, pillaging, rape, sexual slavery and recruitment of child soldiers. If Boko Haram would not heed the plea to “disarm and demobilize”, the world community has a duty to respond in the interest of global peace. A possible base for Boko Haram and export of terror from Nigeria’s northeast region, is certainly unthinkable.
Besides revving up action to save the Chibok girls, the agitation against the assault of Boko Haram on civilian populations, notably women and children, massive destruction of homes after attacks, recruiting child soldiers, making sex slaves of girls and more should henceforth be louder. The use of innocent children for terror attacks is morally repugnant just as the sale of the abducted girls into slavery as claimed by the Boko Haram leader in a video dispatch is a crime against humanity.
The United Nations is right in noting that Boko Haram is undermining peace and stability of the west and central African region where they have killed more than 5,000 with over 1.6 million people forced from their homes into camps as internally displaced persons (IDPs). This gory level of violence deserves condemnation in the strongest terms.
Sadly, the unconventional nature of the engagement seemingly makes it easier for Boko Haram to dictate pace. But that should hardly be an excuse. A good intelligence gathering system must be put in place and with a military credited with sound training and given the necessary tools, there should be no place or space for insurgents.
A lifetime of trauma for the grieving parents of Chibok must boggle the mind just as failure, so far, to rescue the girls from captivity must have left a gash in their souls. If, as it is feared, many of them have already been forced into marriage, they would have to raise children in an environment that has a bold mark of violence stamped on it.
It is even unfortunate that their abduction has become a commercial enterprise for some people in government and other jobbers who reap from this human tragedy in the guise of negotiating or campaigning for the girls’ release.
Nigeria has the duty to find the girls of Chibok and bring them back home. Humanity the world over has the duty to keep demanding this until it is done.