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CF Community voices Nigeria: The Chibok Girls

by Oluwaseyi Sodola on 8th August, 2014 at 4:16 PM CEST

THE CHIBOK SCHOOL GIRLS TRAUMA AND BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY IN NIGERIA

The insurgent group Boko Haram is opposed to the Westernization of Nigeria, which they maintain is the root cause of criminal behaviour in the country. Thousands of people have been killed in attacks perpetrated by the group, and the Nigerian Federal Government declared a state of emergency in May 2013 in Borno State in its fight against the insurgency.

Since 2010, Boko Haram has targeted schools, killing hundreds of students. A spokesperson for the group said such attacks would continue as long as the Nigerian government continued to interfere with traditional Islamic education. 10,000 children have been unable to attend school as a result of the activities by Boko Haram. Boko Haram has also been known to kidnap girls, who it believes should not be educated, and use them as cooks or sex slaves

Kidnapping

Damage to Schools

On the night of 14–15 April 2014, a group of militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. They broke into the school, pretending to be guards telling the girls to get out and come with them for their own security. A large number of students were taken away in trucks, possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram were known to have fortified camps (it was reported by some who escaped in the beginning that some girls had realised that they were being kidnapped and had jumped off the moving trunks and ran away despite the danger of injury and death. Houses in Chibok were also burnt down in the incident. The school had been closed for four weeks prior to the attack due to the deteriorating security situation, but students from multiple schools had been called in to take final exams in physics.

There were 530 students from multiple villages registered for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, although it was unclear how many were in attendance at the time of the attack. The children were aged 16 to 18 and were in their final year of school. Initial reports said 85 students were kidnapped in the attack. Over the 19–20 April weekend, the military released a statement that said more than 100 of 129 kidnapped girls had been freed. However, the statement was retracted, and on 21 April, parents said 234 girls were missing. A number of the students escaped the kidnappers in two groups. According to the police approximately 276 children were taken in the attack of which 53 had escaped as of 2 May. Other reports stated that 329 girls were kidnapped, 53 had escaped and 276 were still missing.

Amnesty International later said it believes the Nigerian military had four hours advanced warning of the kidnapping, but failed to send reinforcements to protect the school. Nigeria's armed forces have confirmed that the Nigerian military had four hour advance notice of the attack but that their over-extended forces were unable to mobilise reinforcements. 

Aftermath

The students are being forced into Islam and into marriage with members of Boko Haram, with a reputed "bride price" of 2,000 each ($12.50/£7.50). Many of the students were taken to the neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroon, with sightings reported of the students crossing borders with the militants, and sightings of the students by villagers living in the Sambisa Forest. The forest is considered a refuge for Boko Haram. Local residents have been able to track the movements of the students with the help of contacts across north eastern Nigeria.

On 5th of May, a video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnappings emerged. Disturbing message included statements likewise "Slavery is allowed in my religion, and I shall capture people and make them slaves." He has said that the girls should not have been in the school and instead they should be married since girls as young as nine are suitable for marriage. Following the kidnapping incident, Boko Haram again abducted eight girls aged between 12–15 from Northeast Nigeria, a number later raised to eleven. Chibok is primarily a Christian village and Shekau acknowledged that many of the girls seized were not Muslims.

Reaction


A truck in Nigeria promotes the #BringBackOurGirls hash tag launched to spread awareness of the kidnapping


First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, holding sign with the #BringBackOurGirls hash tag

President seeks $1 billion loan to fight Boko Haram

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday July 15, 2014, forwarded a letter to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to urgently approve a $1bn external loan for the Federal Government to confront the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

The letter titled, “Tackling Ongoing Security Challenges: Need for Urgent Action”, read in part, “You are no doubt cognisant of the ongoing and serious security challenges which the nation is facing, as typified by the Boko Haram terrorist threat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times.."

The future effect of this menace 

Boko Haram - an egg in the incubator waiting to hatch (become a chick). For now, the Nigeria state only perspective the activities of men and women of this group, thus forgetting what it will look like when foreign investors start folding up their mats for an exodus exit. (sentence not clear).

Boko Haram has become a threat to the entire nation. Their activities have crippled the socio-economic life of the entire citizenry. Owolabi (2003) stated that the activities of Boko Haram sect have "rubbished" the image of Nigeria and have hampered the quest of achieving Millennium Development Goals as well as vision 2020. Since the advent of a new dimension to terrorism in Nigeria, it is clear that the fabric of Nigeria economy foundation has really been shaken. The impact of the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram has brought physical, psychological and economic damage to the Nigeria’s fragile economy. There has been  a sharp drop in the commercial activities in the North as foreign investors are gradually diverting from Nigeria due to the increasing security crisis.

It is therefore recommended that:

  • The Federal Government should post security personnel to guard all schools from primary to tertiary institutions in Nigeria;
  • Free bus services should be available for children in the urban areas to take them to and from school under tight security (better recommendation);
  • Security studies should be enlisted in the School curriculum in Nigeria (good recommendation);
  • Secondary school students should be properly monitored by parents and government agencies to ensure that they do not develop positive desire for Boko Haram activities. (instead of monitor, why not educated and sensitised to understand the issue at hang and how to help?);
  • Adequate school attendance record should be kept by teachers (schools should exercise better record keeping practises).
  • Government Denial on issues of national security should not be accepted and partisanship/politics should be shelved aside by political parties in order to fight the rising cases of insuregency.


Protests

References

Abiye, S. (2011) The Abuja attacks, Lagos: The Telegragh Newspaper, 10th May, 2011.
Adamu, F.I. (2009) Ideologyof Boko Haram, Journal of Islamic Education 2(2) 31-34
Ajayi, S.O. (2011) Domestic Terrorism, Ibadan: Ade-Olu Publishing Co.
Akowe, T (2011) North Still backward in Education, The Nation 25th August
Wikipedia

Content complied by: Oluwaseyi Sodola, CF LR for Nigeria

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Hitesh Thakkar

Hitesh Thakkar

good drafted Sodola..

9th August, 2014 @ 8:02 AM CEST

Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

dear Oluwaseyi Sodola . its very inspiring article
well done
many thnx

10th August, 2014 @ 5:24 PM CEST

KEDEI INAH

KEDEI INAH

Thanks Sadola for spreading the word around, we say NO TO TERRORISM. And we to God that our girls are released, we want them back.

12th August, 2014 @ 10:44 PM CEST

Chinmay Dave

Chinmay Dave

Sodola.. Nice Job done by you and yes we are with u people... raise voice again n again

8th September, 2014 @ 12:07 PM CEST

Dhaval Desai

Dhaval Desai

Agree with u sodola.. good article

8th September, 2014 @ 12:10 PM CEST

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