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Published On: Sun, Jun 8th, 2014

Terrorism in Nigeria: The Chibok experience and government’s failures

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Abducted schoolgirlsBy Evelyn Okakwu.

For some time now in the history of Nigeria’s a democracy, a number of sad events perpetrated by terrorists have attracted the attention of concerned Nigerians. For many reasons the destruction of lives and property by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria posed credible threats to the ability of the present government to successfully safe guard the lives of every Nigerian as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Time and time again innocent lives of Nigeria’s future leaders were taken from them by unidentified and almost unidentifiable gunmen and suicide bombers.

A further report revealed that while the onslaught lasted, there was no intervention by security forces to calm the situation

On the 15 April Nigerians were fed with reports from various media giving different accounts of the number of girls missing. On the 16 April, there were reports that the girls had been taking out of the Sambisa forest where they had been held hostage in a truck.

Controversial reports from the Military and the media further heightened the question as to whether or not government was doing enough to curtail the problem of insurgency in the country.

The reports also attracted the attention of most mothers across the nation, who began a national cry to the government in form of relies and messages on the social network, seeking the safe return of the girls.

Triggered by a raging campaign on twitter to bring back the girls, by a group of Nigerian women, led by Mrs Obi Ezekwesili, the government of Nigeria on the 25th of March swore to ensure a safe return of the girls. This according to analyst was viewed as the first major response of government to the situation since the abduction. It came three days after the principal of the school announced that the number of girls missing were 234.

On the 26 April, the Military claimed to be combing Sambisa Forest and had sighted the girls. The following day, reports were published about a farmer, sighting the girls, been taking in a truck; this further heightened the fears and anxiety in the minds of friends and relatives who increased their cry to government for the safe return of the girls.

Consequently on the 30th of April, a meeting of Service chiefs was called from the Nigerian Defence Head Quarters. That same day, the senate, led by its President, David Mark, visited the President on the same issue.

But the Chibok women and their friends in Abuja, who were anxious for results took their cry to government again on the 1st of May, when they matched to the National Assembly to ask government to ensure the safe return of the girls,

Two days later, the US secretary of State, John Kerry announced the willingness of his government to help in the search for the Chibok girls.

With that came support from many other Like Israel and Britain, to metion but a few.

And all this while, the list of the names of the missing girls was still yet to be made public. It was during the analyses about same, that question came up and the Northern Christians Forum published 180 names on the 4th April for the first time, since the girls went missing.

 

The following day, the terror group released a video of the missing girls, and claimed responsibility for their disappearance, adding that the girls could only be released in exchange for their detained members.

Soon after, parents of the abducted girls started taking reports to the media saying they had identified their daughters and on the 13 May, 77 girls had been identified by their parents in the video.

Before then, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) promised on the 7th May to pay a ransom of N50, 000 to any one with useful information about the girls. While some saw this as a step by a desperate force to meet up with its obligations, others felt it was a move, too late, and slightly inadequate.

A day after, the Nigeria Police Force visited the scene of the abduction. The search for the girls continued with greater involvement by the international, as well as national friends of Chibok, and the rally persisted in Abuja for the return of the girls.

On the 17 May, the president Goodluck Jonathan attended a meeting where talks about the return of abducted girls took place.

This came a day after a controversial report about the Presidents’ intended visit to the community of the abduction was denied by his spokes person Ruben Abati.

On the 21st May, reports were carried about one of the mothers of the abducted girls, who slumped and died.

The feeling increased the outcry for the return of the girls by the ‘#Bring Back Our Girls’ protest group who met in Abuja at the Unity Fountain.

During this period reports about the girls sighted in three camps by the Military were also made public. The report further revealed that there should be a fourth camp

But on the 26th of May, another group of protesters emerged with the same aim; they were focusing on the terror group, for the return of the girls, rather than the Government, as had been the case by the bring back our girls campaign group.

 

The women wrote on their equally red dresses; ‘Release our girls’, and a day after their first appearance, they grew very violent and attacked, the first group of protesters, destroying 61 of their sits at the campaign venue, and wounding several people.

One of those injured, Ibrahim Umar said he had attempted to protect his female protesters when one of the thugs from the other group attacked him, with a tripod snatched from a journalist which he used to hit him twice on his shoulder, a development which affected him badly.

Although the women, and thugs in the second group did not say who their leader was, a close comparison of their manner of approach to Peoples Daily when, asked about their mission proved that there is more to their hostile appearance than meets the eye.

During the first visit, I had approached them as a Journalist seeking to know why they were grouping differently if they had the same motive as the first group, and the response from one of them was a sharp: “My friend leave this place now. You want to prove to us that you are a journalist abi? Who told you that we have two groups, person wen wan wear other clothe go wear am, and person wen wan wear this one go wear am so just leave this place please”

But the second time I approached this group, I disguised and the response from one who seemed not to recognise me went thus: “All we can tell you is that our group is the fake one, and the other group is the real one. We are paid.” They would not disclose who it is, but allegations have again been thrown at government. Reports about the support of government from the group, was published with allegations that the group had arived the venue of the protest, using government vans the first day.

Also, members of the Bring back our girls family in Abuja, had accused the Nigerian Police of acting as on lookers while the thugs beat them up and tried to break their heads. They threatened to take on the police, for what they discribed as an undue connivance of the police with the thugs, in the ‘Release our girls’ group.

Although the Nigerian Police is still yet to respond to this allegation, the reaction of the Police, when it reportedly banned all rallies, seeking the return of the girls on the 2nd of June has also been greeted variously by Nigerians. Many Nigerians condemned the said banning, and yesterday, the NPF again reacted to raging condemnation of its recent action, just as the ‘#Bring Back Our Girls group’ took the matter before the Federal High court asking the court to inform the police about their right to peaceful assembly as Nigerians.

The NPF denied placing a ban on any peaceful assembly, but asked the rallying women to reconsider their decision to gather till it is able to ascertain the safety of their lives while gathering.

But the main reason for the assembly by these women stems from the very fact that all is not well.

If the police is seeking a reconsideration, till it makes certain that all is well, then what it is saying may be translated, as analysts say to mean that it is pledging to finish what the group has been fighting to accomplish.

Yet if this is the case, another question may be why the previous report said it had banned the rallies in the first instance, and why is no one including the police saying anything about this purported group of thugs who came out with no motive but to disrupt a peaceful assembly?

Indeed much rhetoric have sprung up from the security situation of the country, and while it is worth noting that the government is making some efforts, it’s also necessary to state that certain realities make these very efforts questionable and the time for increased efforts for greater confidence in governments commitments is now.

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