■ Distressed parents give new condition to govt
From TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri
THE dusty, bumpy road leading to Chibok has witnessed more vehicular movement since mid-2014. Until then, the serene community in the southern part of northeast Borno State was relatively unknown. The abduction of 276 schoolgirls on April 14, 2014, however, changed the fate of the town.
As you enter this community, you’re greeted with grief-stricken faces of men and women. In Chibok, laughter is a rare act and residents hardly engage in jokes as Sunday Sun learnt. Everything here is done in solemnity. The town and its inhabitants are in sorrow. Even a first time visitor can feel it.
It was midday last Wednesday in Chibok and there was an unusual quietness in the air. Even the leaves on the Neem trees around the Government Secondary School, where the schoolgirls were kidnapped two years ago, were still. It was exactly two years when the teenagers were whisked away by Boko Haram in the night to an unknown destination. Though 57 of the girls were able to escape after some days, 219 are still missing. This has remained the source of grief of the Kibaku people, the tribal name of the people of Chibok.
For months, there have been speculations about the whereabouts of the girls. While some Nigerians including former President Olusegun Obasanjo suggested that many of the teenagers may have died in the hands of their abductors, others reasoned they may have been taken to neighbouring countries. Even the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in one of the videos released last year claimed the girls had been “married off” across the Lake Chad.
However, a new video allegedly released by Boko Haram shows some of the girls already identified by their parents, may still be alive. The video, which is seen by Chibok people as a “proof of life” is also generating fear among some parents and relations of the kidnapped girls, who were seen in the video.
“I have asked my brother in Abuja to watch the video on CNN but he told me my sister’s daughter was not among,” Titus Pagu, uncle to one of the missing teenagers told the reporter last Wednesday during the second year commemorative programme.
While analyzing the video, he said he feared many of the girls may have died. “We are happy hearing some of our daughters are still alive but we fear some of them may have been killed,” he said, a view equally expressed by two other relations.
“How many girls were in the video?” Malam Ayuba Chul, a parent asked the reporter, and added another poser: “Did the Boko Haram ones? He urged government to come up with a new plan to rescue the girls, maintaining that only the resmention anything about the other cue of the remaining girls can relieve their pains.
Apparently distressed, the people defied the soothing words of the Federal Government delegation which included the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Moahammed, Minister of State for National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Minster of State Power, Works and Housing, Hon Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Sen Ali Ndume, Senate Leader and Sen Binta Garba (Adamawa North), who joined Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima.
The people had accused both the federal and state governments of making promises to rescue the abducted girls but were yet to do so two years down the line. Both the leader of the abducted girls’ parents, Yakubu Nkeki and chairman, Chibok elders, Kaka Ndurbita spoke for the community and families of the affected parents.
“The generality of our people are traumatized by what happened. We know the government is making efforts but the efforts are not enough until our daughters are freed,” says Ndurbita
The intervention of Sen Binta Garba, however, saved the situation. Garba said the Federal Government delegation shows its level of commitment to the Chibok girls’ issue. She urged the people to stop the blame game and focus on prayers for the safe return of the girls. She also warned against politicizing the abduction case. With the two years commemorative event over, the people appeared resolute in their demand for government to release the Gen Ibrahim Sabo’s Committee report on the abduction constituted by the former President Goodluck Jonathan.