(Timothy Olanrewaju, MAIDUGURI; Molly Kilete, ABUJA; Deji Aroloye, LAGOS; Paul Orude, BAUCHI)
Two years after, parents and relations of the 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram have said only the return of their daughters could end their agony.
“Our agony is unending until our daughters are back,” one of the relations, Maina told Daily Sun on phone yesterday.
On April 14, 2014, members of the Islamist Boko Haram group broke into the dormitory of the all-female section of the school and abducted 276 teenagers. Fifty-seven of the girls escaped from their abductors three days later, leaving 219 still missing.
Scores of Chibok residents including parents and relations of the missing girls gathered in front of the Government Secondary School, Chibok yesterday ahead of the commemoration of the second anniversary.
“We’ve been gathering outside the school where our daughters were kidnapped as early as 9am,” Maina further said.
Sources at Chibok said the atmosphere at the gathering was charged as many relations appeared downcast, some weeping. “Many of them refused to be consoled. They were just crying and all our entreaties fell on deaf here,” Aliyu Musa who traveled to Chibok to witness the commemoration told Daily Sun.
He said the people were yet to overcome the tragedy of losing their daughters.
“It is expected that they will be sad. Many people here are very disturbed; some saying their daughters may never come back again while some still have faith the girls would walk to freedom some day,” he said.
But has anything changed since the schoolgirls were abducted?
The Nigerian military has made several efforts in rescuing the girls though the exact location of the abducted girls remains a conjecture. While earlier reports indicated the girls were taken to Sambisa, Boko Haram operational base which shares border with Chibok, another version almost a year later claimed the girls may have been evacuated across the Lake Chad to neighbouring nations of Niger, Cameroon and Chad where Boko Haram also has some allies and foot-soldiers.
In 2015, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau had in a widely circulated video claimed the girls have been married off across the border, a claim which lent credence to the earlier report linking the teenagers to neigbhouring countries. However, recent increase in the number of girls-suicide bombers has raised speculations that the insurgents may have resorted to using the schoolgirls, though there was yet any confirmation to this.
Today, hundreds of people are expected to gather in the town for a special commemorative prayer. Already, a couple of non-governmental organizations including the #BringBackOurGirls# campaigners were seen in convoy of vehicles leaving Maiduguri, the state capital yesterday morning and heading toward Chibok, some 130 kilometres away ahead of today. Whether or not the Chibok girls would return soon still remains a big question.
US calls for release
United States has called for the immediate release of the girls immediately and unconditionally.
A statement released yesterday by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria said the abduction epitomises the terrorist group’s depravity and pledged to continue to support the Federal Government in its fight against terrorism.
Root out Boko Haram –Buhari
As the global community joins Nigeria in commemorating the anniversary of the Chibok invasion, President Buhari has assured that his administration will root out Boko Haram and corruption completely in Nigeria saying the two forces have retarded growth of the country and its potentials.
He spoke in Bauchi at the Nigeria Air force Re-Union 2016 to mark its 52nd anniversary.
Represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin, the president also assured that his government would do everything possible to safeguard the lives and property of all Nigerians as well as ensure development across the country.
He said that the Nigeria Air Force and other security agencies were fully employed in the fight against insurgency in the country.
He said that the Federal Government would continue to vigorously pursue the change agenda hence much more will be demanded of the military.
He commended the Nigeria Armed forces for their effort in the fight against Boko Haram in the North East and enjoined retired officers and men of the Nigeria Air Force to join the fight against terrorism.
Boko-Haram members on the run -Army
Meanwhile, the Army headquarters yesterday warned Nigerians to be more security conscious as members of Boko Haram are fleeing the Sambisa to cities across the country to seek refuge.
The army said the terrorists have moved to various cities where they plan to carry out attacks on innocent Nigerians.
Acting director, Army public relations, Colonel Sani Usman, who made this known in a statement, urged Nigerians to be observant and report any suspicious persons or group of persons to the military or any of the security agencies.
DSS nabs Al-Barnawi’s deputy
The battle to route the insurgents has received a boost as the Department of State Services (DSS) says it has arrested Bello Danhajiya, the presumed deputy of Khalid Al-Barnawi, the right-hand man of Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader.
Danhajiya and some suspects allegedly involved in defrauding top personalities were paraded before journalists yesterday.