It’s been 12 months, 365 days, 52 weeks, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes and 31,536,000 seconds since the Chibok girls were abducted. On the night of 14–15 April 2014, the dastard Boko Haram sect members came like the thieves they are. They broke into Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno state. They were camouflaged as guards, urging the girls to get out and come with them. About 276 teenage girls were taken away in trucks, possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest. The school had been closed for a fortnight prior to the attack due to the deteriorating security situation, but students from the school had been called in to take final exams in physics. According to the police, approximately 276 girls were abducted, of which a total of about 57 had escaped. On 17 October 2014, hopes were raised that the 219 remaining girls might soon be released after the army announced a truce between Boko Haram and government forces. This announcement also coincided with the six-month anniversary of the girls' capture. Hopes were however dashed when it was discovered that the supposed truce had been a hoax.

The abduction caused international outrage, eliciting protests demanding greater government action. In early May last year, protests were held in major Western cities including Los Angeles and London. At the same time, the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls began to trend globally on Twitter. As the story continued to spread, and by mid-May it had reached about 2.3 million tweets. Celebrities both nationally and internationally also lent their voices to the protest. Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai came all the way to Nigeria to show her displeasure and camaraderie for the abducted girls. Even the first lady of the U.S. wasn’t left out in the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls phenomena. Alas, hitherto none of the abducted girls have been released. Recent reports and videos of the deranged psychopathic leader of the dastard sect have shown that majority of the girls have been forced to convert to Islam. They have also been forced into marriage with members of the sect, with a reputed "bride price" of ₦2,000. Other reports have stated that the girls were taken to the neighboring countries of Chad and Cameroon. Also, there have been reports of sightings of the girls crossing borders with the militants, and sightings of the students by villagers living in the dreaded Sambisa Forest.

As a mother, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a feminist, a Nigerian and a humanist, it breaks my heart knowing that those innocent teenage girls have been in the custody of a bunch of raving lunatics for this long. I can only imagine the emotional trauma, servitude and physical abuse the girls would be subjected to on a daily basis. I can only imagine the pains and anger the parents, guardians and relatives of the abducted girls must have been going through for the past one year. I can only envision the void the absence of the girls must have caused their families. I can only imagine how parents, guardians, relatives and friends of the girls would feel celebrating or marking their birthdays in their absence. I can only ideate the health conditions of the parents and guardians, due to the abduction and continued absence of the girls. I can only envision how the abduction and continued absence of the girls would have affected the Chibok community. I can only imagine the trauma Government Secondary School officials and pupils would be going through due to the lack of closure.

Among the abducted innocent teenage girls is Hauwa ​Yirma. She is a daughter as well as a sister. Her favorite meal is “Tuwo Shinkafa and Mia Cooker”. Another is Gloria Dama. Her favorite subject is chemistry. Hannatu Ishaku is also one of the abductees. She misses going to the market with her mother to sell groundnuts. Deborah and Awa Abge are both sisters. They miss the warmth of their homes and company of their families. Awa James is also one of the unfortunate victims. She misses her regular Sunday service and pastors’ sermon. Safiya Abdu looks after her younger ones whenever her dad or mum is not at home. She is like their second mother and her siblings misses her so much. Kwanta Simon misses the long walks with her friends to the stream. They would talk about everything and anything. Hannatu Musa is the brain-box of her class. She misses reading the novels her uncle always buys for her. Saraya and Jummai Paul are also sisters. Their parents have been brokenhearted since their abduction. Mary Sule, the prettiest of them all, misses the gifts her elder brothers come with whenever they are visiting. Saratu Markus misses helping her mother sell bean cakes, fried yams and potatoes by the mango tree at the center of Chibok town. Tomboyish Naomi Zakaria, misses helping her dad in his carpentry workshop. Na’omi, Godiya and Awa Bitrus are three sisters. They all wanted to go to the University of Maiduguri to further their education. The talkative Luggwa ​Sanda wanted to become a lawyer in future.

It has been a year since these innocent teenage girls were taken from their school. Their crime was simply trying to attain formal education in other to uplift their families and contribute their quota to national development. The elections and other events both locally and internationally had eclipsed the quandary of the girls. However, the elections are now over and a new “sheriff” is in town. All efforts of this new administration should be channeled towards bringing back our girls, alive and well. All avenues should be explored towards bringing back our girls safe and sound. Public outcry both locally and internationally should be re-awakened towards pressurizing the authorities to take adequate measures in ensuring the girls are re-united with their families soonest. Fatima Tabji could be your daughter. Hauwa ​ and Maryam Musa could be your sisters. Yanke​Shittima could be your niece. Esther Ayuba could be your son or daughter’s classmate. Muli​ Waligam could be your friend. As the insurgents are being successfully pushed back by the multinational force, their reign of terror is gradually coming to an end. The icing on the cake will absolutely be the rescue of the girls from their captors. The parents and guardians of the girls need closure. The Chibok community needs closure. The school and the state need closure. All concerned Nigerians and non-Nigerians also need closure. If you care and distraught over the girls continued absence, please chant along with me…... “All we are saying to the insurgents is #BringBackOurGirls!

 

Hannatu Musawa

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