FULL STATEMENT: Seven Years, Still No Answers—#BringBackOurGirls Demands Action and Accountability, Launches Renewed Global Campaign
As we approach the dreadful seventh anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, our hearts remain broken.
We, the parents, relations and supporters of the 112 of our Chibok Girls who remain unaccounted for are disturbed, disconcerted and distressed to know that for seven years, our cries have fallen on deaf ears; for seven years, the children of the wealthy and elite have grown in luxury and happiness while our beloved young women remain in captivity, forced into lives of unimaginable cruelty and deprivation.
Even as we observe that other atrocities against Nigerian schoolchildren and students assault the sensibilities of Nigerians, and those children are returned to their families; the fate of our missing 112 Chibok Girls and the continuing trauma of Chibok parents and their communities are slipping from public consciousness and are no longer a priority for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
On April 14th, 2021, we will be holding a series of actions to mark the seventh anniversary of the abduction in Lagos, Abuja, New York and Chibok. In these events, we will highlight the Chibok families’ voices whose lives have been shattered for seven years as they face the devastating reality of their government’s neglect.
We remind President Muhammadu Buhari of the statement he made at his inauguration in 2015:
“We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.”
But the actions – or rather, the inaction – of the Federal Government over our daughters in repeatedly claiming that the terrorists have been defeated even though our girls remain in bondage is a painful reminder that this administration does not value the lives of our precious girls. They have been abandoned by the government that is supposed to protect them and promised to do so.
What has happened over seven years to our girls?
They have been raped.
They have been abused.
They have been trafficked.
They have been forced into marriage.
They have been forced to convert against their will.
They have been forcibly impregnated and had children.
They have experienced trauma and untold suffering.
They have become pawns in the hands of a callous and uncaring government.
What has happened to the returned girls of Chibok?
Some of them appear to be fine.
Some are at home and refuse to return to school.
Some have married.
Some feel that education will not afford them an advantage.
What has happened to the families of the girls that have yet to be returned?
All are heartbroken.
Many have died, even in recent days.
Many are very sick.
All want answers.
All feel the government is not hearing them, that their cries are falling on deaf ears.
Our Demands: SEVEN at SEVEN
We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to take these seven actions NOW!
Bring back our girls WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY!
Provide a comprehensive report on the status of all investigations, operations and missions to bring back the remaining 112 Chibok young women, including the release of the General Ibrahim Sabo Report.
Provide psycho-social support for traumatised Chibok and other affected families and immediately reopen an adequately resourced and staffed Chibok Desk at the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to keep parents informed and provide support to families of abducted children.
Complete and reopen the Government Secondary School, Chibok. In 2016 the Goodluck Jonathan administration pledged 500 million naira to rebuild the school with full state-of-the-art facilities. Till date, the school remains closed and uncompleted. We demand the school’s completion, its re-opening and a full investigation and accounting for the funds released.
Report on the whereabouts of Halima Ali, a captive Chibok girl who was recently able to speak to her father and other family members on the phone and who was allegedly in the hands of the Nigerian authorities but has not been heard from again.
Provision of trained security personnel for schools and accountability for the status and progress of the Safe Schools Initiative. We cannot continue to see case after case of children being abducted from their schools. We demand adequate security for all public schools, including emergency response training of staff on early warning protocols.
An update on the funding and status of the Missing Persons Register programme at the National Human Rights Commission and the ways in which the Victim Support Fund has been applied to support victims of the insurgency in the North East, including the families of the Chibok Girls, the Chibok community, other conflict-affected communities and the education of children with no access to local schools.
To this effect, BringBackOurGirls Global is launching a renewed global campaign to bring back the 112 Chibok Girls: “Until All are Free.” Over the next six months, BBOG Abuja, BBOG Lagos, BBOG New York, and other BBOG groups worldwide will come together to push for the logical end to seven years of advocacy, namely the final return of the 112 Chibok Girls who are now young women. We will seek international support and call upon international bodies and governments to ensure that the Nigerian government keeps its promise to Bring Back Our Girls.
We are tired, we are weary, we are heartbroken, but we are not deterred. We will never give up fighting for our girls until they are all free.
SIGNED For and on behalf of BBOG Abuja, Lagos & NY
R. Evon Idahosa