Thursday, 30 April 2015

We believe our missing girls will come home eventually, says Chibok community

Members of the Chibok com­munity in Borno State have not yet seen any of their 219 schoolgirls abducted over a year ago by Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast of the much beleaguered state.

However, they insist that they have high hopes that their missing daughters would soon walk home. Tuesday’s res­cue of 200 girls and 93 women that was announced by the authorities has raised their hopes that things might soon turn around for good for them, and their daughters would eventually be rescued.
The Nigerian military high command on Tuesday announced that troops had rescued some 200 girls and 93 women during a counter-insurgency operation near Sambisa Games Reserve where the Boko Haram insurgents have their camps.

“Our gallant troops have been making progress in the desired aim of ridding the nation of terrorists and their sanctuaries. It is heartwarming to inform you that today, (Tuesday), troops continued the offensive and cleared four key terrorists camps in Sambisa forest, Borno State. So far, they have destroyed and cleared Sassa, Tokumbere and two other camps in the general area of Alafa, all within the Sambisa forest. The troops rescued 200 abducted girls and 93 women. They are presently being processed,” Acting Director Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, disclosed in a message to Daily Sun on Tuesday.

Some media reports had speculated that the 200 rescued girls might be part of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the insurgents on April 14, 2014. But the military, while clarifying the report, insisted that those rescued were “not Chbok girls.”
However, parents and relations of the Chibok schoolgirls, in their reaction to the news of the release of the 200 girls, said the development had raised their hopes that their daughters could be found soon. They said the rescue also brought to the fore the fact that several other women and girls had been kidnapped before and after April 14, 2014 when their daughters were whisked away into the forest by Boko Haram.

“We are happy because people that were hitherto not known to have been abducted are now being rescued, It is giving hope to us the parents and relations that some of the Chibok girls will be freed one day, even if not all,” spokesman of the Chibok Community (Kibaku Association), Dr Mannaseh Allen, informed Daily Sun.

According to him, the rescue on Tuesday of the women and girls has cleared the air of initial doubts from certain quarters over the abduction of the Chibok girls.
“This development also gives us hope and clears the air of intial doubts that the abduction of our daughters was untrue. It gives credence to the fact that not only Chibok schools girls have been kidnapped by Boko Haram but several others who many people outside Borno were unaware of,” he added.

He said Chibok people were now more hopeful than ever before, adding that the despair and gloom of the commemoration of the one year anniversary of the kidnap of the teenagers have now thawed with the cheering news by the military on Tuesday. He said right now, the entire community was rejoicing with the families of the 200 girls and 93 women just rescued. “At least,, we believe they can now re-unite with their families after they have been identified,” he noted.
A security source confirmed to Daily Sun that many of the rescued girls were earlier kept in Gwoza by the insurgents but were moved to Sambisa forest when the military launched an offensive in the area earlier in April, leading to the recapture of the hilly town that had been a stronghold of the insurgents. It was named the capital of Boko Haram’s purported Islamic caliphate.
Some teenagers were kidnapped in Konduga and Askira Uba in June, 2013 when the insurgents attacked the area while several others were abducted in the series of attacks on communities by the insurgents. Many believe more girls and women kidnapped by Boko Haram in the state might still be unaccounted for.

But a convener of Pro-women rights group, Women for Peace and Security Network who is also a Bring Back Our Girls Crusader, Prof Auwa Biu said the rescue of the 200 girls did not call for jubilation.

“There is no cause for any jubilation for some of us in the campaigns to bring back our girls,” she said in a telephone interview with Daily Sun yesterday. She challenge the military to produce the photographs of the women and girls that were rescued immediately, wondering why the military made the information about the rescue known to the public before carrying out its investigation. She described the effort as diversionary, saying the military only used the 200 girls to take away attention of the people from the schoolgirls abducted from the Government Girls’ College, Chibok, in April last year.