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GIRLS TWO YEARS ON:The wound of motherhood… and shame of a nation

Many of the missing Chibok girls’ parents dressed in black were joined across the country by thousands of protesters, including members of the#BBOG’s movement and Civil Society Organisations to mark the two years anniversary of the abduction which has defeated every proffered solution to free the girls.

The Daily Times state correspondents report that Thursday’s two-year anniversary was marked nationwide with vigils and protest marches.

A report reaching our newsroom in Lagos Thursday (yesterday) said that anti-riot policemen have blocked the BringBackOurGirlsmembers from accessing the presidential villa where they had planned to hold a press conference.

Chief Superintendent of Police, Grace Longe who is the DPO, Asokoro Police Station, sited security reasons as the reason why the protesters were turned back from the villa.

The #BBOG group spurred by former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili among others is currently holding its world media conference to commemorate the two years anniversary of the abduction of 219 Chibok schoolgirls at the entrance road to the presidential villa.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Thursday said it was studying a proof of life” video showing 15 of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, as parents and their supporters marked the second anniversary of the kidnapping.

The footage, shown on CNN, is the first time any of the missing girls have been seen since a previous Boko Haram video in May 2014, when about 100 were seen in Islamic dress reciting the Koran.

It would be recalled that about 276 girls were on April 14, 2014, reportedly abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok town, Northeast Nigeria. 57 of them escaped in the aftermath of the abduction.

Three mothers and a classmate of the missing schoolgirls confirmed the identities of the girls in the images broadcast on Wednesday night.

A senior government source told AFP it had received the video which shows the girls in black hijabs and stating their names, that they were abducted from Chibok and saying they were all well.

The video was said to have been shot on Christmas of 2015.

But the source said they were keen to avoid the problems encountered by the previous administration, which announced ceasefire talks with Boko Haram fronters but did not effect it.

“Our intelligence and security authorities received a similar video in July last year and when they followed the lead  – it led to a cul-de sac,” the source revealed.

Contact could not be made and it was impossible to determine the identities of the purported Boko Haram members who sent it or if the move had the blessing of the group’s leadership, he concluded.

It is suspected that the Boko Haram group has long been known to have broken into many factions, comprising groups of ideologically sympathetic fighters who do not always act under the direct orders of senior commanders.

It is an indication that the latest video and the previous unpublicised message may have come from one of these factions, the source also said the government had received a ransom demand last July.

The group asked for one million Euros ($1.1 million) for 10 of the girls, the source disclosed.

That lends weight to theories the Chibok girls were split up following the abduction and were being held separately in different locations, complicating any possible talks or rescue bid.

AFP has also seen photographs of five girls that were sent to the government in mid-January this year as part of the same bid for negotiations.

Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has previously said the girls would be released in exchange for Islamist fighters held in Nigerian custody..

Boko Haram has used kidnapping as a weapon, seizing thousands of women and young girls, and forcibly conscripting men and boys, in a conflict that has killed an estimated 20,000 since 2009.

The abducted men and boys thought to have been forced to fight in Boko Haram’s ranks, while some of the girls and women have been turned into suicide bombers and others as sex slaves.

The Nigeria director of Amnesty International, M.K. Ibrahim in a statement, called for the release of all captives saying that the Chibok girls are now symbol of all the civilians whose lives have been devastated by Boko Haram.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s government should do all it lawfully can to bring an end to the agony of the parents of the Chibok girls and all those abducted,” Ibrahim said.

Buhari was on a visit to China on the anniversary but has said the return of the girls is central to the government’s success against Boko Haram.

The International Crisis Group said the anniversary was an opportunity to address the conflict’s effect on children as the military frees more areas from Boko Haram’s control.

Human Rights Watch said this week some 952,000 of the 2.6 million people displaced by the violence were children, who had been robbed of their right to education

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