Exactly 365 days ago, Bok
o Haram insurgents dressed in military camouflage invaded Chibok community, Borno state and literally carted away over 200 school girls who were sitting for their final year Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
The predominantly Christian community was shocked to its bones as grave silence and mourning befell the town. Frantic efforts have since been made to rescue the girls from the hands of their abductors, all have proved abortive.
ENCOMIUM Weekly looks back at the happenings around the ill 365 days…
HOW THE GIRLS WERE REALLY ABDUCTED
On the night of April 14, 2014, Boko Haram gunmen stormed the girls’ boarding school; forcing them from their dormitories and onto trucks before driving away. The girls were aged between 13 and 17.
Subsequent reports said that about 57, girls managed to escape not long after. Conflicting reports filled the news space as to how many girls were actually abducted. Some reports said 234 girls were taken, while others said over 300. A few others gave the figure as about 270 girls.
GROUPS PROTEST ABDUCTION NATIONWIDE, LAUNCH #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS CAMPAIGN
Civil rights groups staged protests across the country seeking the release of the school girls. In Lagos, Women for Peace and Justice in Nigeria accompanied by various civil society coalition groups stormed the governor’s office to protest the abduction in May 2014.
In Sokoto, scores of women, including female journalists, held a peaceful protest against the kidnap of Chibok school girls.
The protest was organised by the state chapter of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in conjunction with the State Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
In Ogun state, the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of Ijebu Ode Catholic Diocese, Ogun to urge the Federal Government to intensify efforts to secure the release of the girls in a protest in June 2014.
In Abuja, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign staged various protests to force the hand of the militants to release the girls, and for the military to intensify efforts to rescue the girls.
…THE PROTESTS GO GLOBAL
United States First Lady, Michelle Obama joined the protests She tweeted a picture of herself with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls, joining a social media storm.
The campaign also attracted politicians, actors and other prominent public figures, such as Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai and CNN star anchor, Christiane Amanpour. Hollywood stars such as Helen DeGeneres, Alicia Keys, Keri Hilson, Justin Timberlake, P Diddy, Drake and others also joined the protest.
PRESIDENCY REACTS SLOWLY TO ABDUCTION TALE, SHOWS LACK OF WILL
The Presidency reportedly disbelieved the Chibok girls’ abduction until it became glaring and was in the eye of the public. Also, President Goodluck Jonathan did not meet with the Chibok girls’ relatives until July 22, 2014 – three months after.
Worsening the situation, president Jonathan did not visit Borno state until he paid a visit to the Army 7 Division in Maiduguri on January 19, 2015 – 276 days after the abduction.
MILITARY, BORNO GOVERNOR BLAMED FOR ABDUCTION
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) blamed Borno governor, Kashim Shettima for Chibok girls’ abduction.
The council’s head stated how the state governor pressurized WAEC to conduct examination against its will at the Government Secondary School where girls were abducted by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
In a similar development, Amnesty International accused the Nigeria military of not acting enough ahead of the insurgents’ invasion. The organization said it gathered from credible sources that the military had four hours advance knowledge of the attack, but did not do enough to avert it.
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OFFERS ASSISTANCE TO FIND CHIBOK GIRLS
Britain, France, Australia and United States (US) experts provided help for the search of the girls as the abduction became a global issue. China and Israel also offered assistance.
MILITARY RECOVER LOST TERRITORIES FROM BOKO HARAM; YET NO SIGN OF SCHOOLGIRLS
The military have, in recent times reclaimed a host of territories from Boko Haram – from Mubi, to Pulka, Buni Yadi, Marte, Monguno and capital Gwoza – yet there is no sign of the Chibok schoolgirls.
The girls were originally thought to be kept in the Sambisa Forest Reserve, Borno state; later it was believed that they were moved to the insurgents headquarters, Gwoza following their capture and subsequent renaming of the town. But with troops having launched air and land strikes on the forest reserve and recovered Gwoza, the question remains unanswered, where are the Chibok girls?
THE SHAM CEASE FIRE DEAL WITH THE INSURGENTS
On Friday, October 17, 2014, Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh announced a “Ceasefire agreement” had been reached with the insurgents. This came after a senior aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Hassan Tukur, had told AFP an agreement to end hostilities had been reached following talks.
BOKO HARAM, ABUBAKAR SHEKAU KILLED, RESURRECTS IN FOOTAGE
Less than two weeks after the killing of an impostor, Bashir Mohammed, who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau, a new video released by Boko Haram, claimed their leader was not shot dead by the Nigerian military. Many, especially in the North-East, particularly felt relieved following the announcement that the no-nonsense leader of the terrorist group had been killed by soldiers.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) had in a statement issued by its Director of Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade in Abuja that troops in four confrontations with Boko Haram fighters killed one of the insurgent commanders believed to have been posing as Abubakar Shekau. It posted the photograph of the alleged impostor which it identified as Bashir Mohammed, same photograph which had been in circulation for a week earlier in Maiduguri, before the announcement. The photograph of the impostor made the cover pages of major newspapers.
But the supposed Shekau, in a 16 minute video, released by Boko Haram claimed their leader is not dead as claimed by the military. “This is Abubakar Shekau. I’m alive and not dead as your military has claimed. Shekau cannot die like that except Allah takes my soul, the man boasted in the footage.