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Too little, so late…but encouraging

 The recent rescue of two abducted girls who were students of Government Secondary Schools Chibok, Borno neutralises cynics’ doubt on whether or not the Boko Haram insurgents really abducted the girls more than two years ago. Precisely, the insurgents were reported to have kidnapped more than 200 Chibok school girls in the night between April 14 and April 15, 2014. But Nigerians, including those whose daughters were victims of the abduction, has been faced with the glaring reality of the kidnapping with telling effects on their psyche.

In reaction to the abduction, a group, #BringBackOurGirl was formed to demand for the release of the abducted girls with daily rallies by the group at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The Abuja family of the #BringBackOurGirls# held a daily sit-out at the venue to make the demand for the release of Chibok schoolgirls fundamental. The news of the abduction also attracted outrage against Boko Haram and the Nigerian government in May 2014 with protests across Nigeria calling for greater government action.

Also, between May 3 and May 4, 2014, protests were held in major western cities including Los Angeles and London with the hash-tag #BringBackOurGirls# which became trendy on social network. For instance, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that Canadians had joined the international effort to free the schoolgirls, while China announced its intention to make available ‘any useful information’ acquired by its satellites and intelligence services. Similarly, the European Union, which passed a resolution on July 17, 2014, called for immediate and unconditional release of the abducted schoolgirls, while French President Francois Hollande offered to hold a summit in Paris with Nigeria and its neighbours to tackle the issue.

Further to this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered assistance to the Nigerian government in locating the missing pupils on May 11, 2014, while the United Kingdom agreed to send experts to Nigeria to assist in the search for the students. These efforts notwithstanding, many Nigerians feared that the Chibok girls could no longer be rescued or found alive again. Even so some believed that most of the girls may have been married off or brainwashed by the insurgents to becoming suicide bombers. But former President Olusegun Obasanjo had encouraged that some of the girls might be found if good effort is put at rescuing the girls.

With much effort of security agents, the Nigerian Army recently confirmed the rescue of two of the abducted Chibok school girls – Amina Ali Nkeki and Serah Luka. Amina told her rescuers that six of her abducted colleagues had died while others were being held in Sambisa forest by their abductors. She is among other persons rescued by troops at Baale community near Damboa in Borno. Mr Aboku Gaji, the leader of the Civilian Joint Task Force in Chibok, said: “The moment this girl was discovered by our vigilantes, she was brought to my house. I instantly recognised her, and insisted we should take her to her parents.

“When we arrived at her house, I asked the mother to come and identify someone. The moment she saw her, she called her name.’’ The Acting Director Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said in a statement that its troops killed 35 Boko Haram terrorists and recovered several arms and ammunition in the recovery of Luka. “In addition, they rescued 97 women and children held captives by the Boko Haram terrorists. We are glad to state that among those rescued is a girl believed to be one of the Chibok Government Secondary Schoolgirls that were abducted on April 14, 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorists.

“Her name is Miss Serah Luka, who is number 157 on the list of the abducted school girls. She is believed to be the daughter of Pastor Luka. “During debriefing, the girl revealed that she was an SS1 student of the school at the time they were abducted. She further added that she hails from Madagali, Adamawa,’’ he said. Sesugh Akume, the spokesperson for the #BringBackOurGirls# said the girl had provided useful information that her other classmates were still being held by terrorists in Sambisa forest. Reacting to the rescue, a civil rights organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, said the rescue of Amina was an indication that the other girls abducted by the insurgents would be found.

It commended the Nigerian Army and the Civilian Joint Task Force for their efforts at rescuing the Chibok girls and ending insurgency in Northeastern part of Nigeria. ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Ojobo Atuluku also said the rescue of the girl was great news that raised the hope that the remaining girls would be rescued. “The Nigerian Government must intensify efforts and give the security agents all required support to seek out the remaining girls. “It is important for the government to strongly advocate against the stigma and discrimination women and girls may face when they return,’’ Atuluku said. According to her, Boko Haram insurgency remains a huge threat to the safety of women and girls in Nigeria “It is important that all efforts are made to protect them and to allow women and girls to live free from fear,’’ she noted.

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