A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Nigerian government to immediately provide the released Dapchi schoolgirls with adequate medical and mental health services.
“These include post-rape care and psychosocial support for those who have survived abduction by the Boko Haram terrorist group,” the group said Wednesday in a statement signed by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale.
The government has confirmed the release of 101 of the 110 girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists last month at a secondary school in the Yobe State community.
In its statement following news of the release of some of the girls, SERAP also called for “a judicial commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into allegations of complicity against some members of the military and security forces in the abduction of the girls.
“Such commission should be completely independent, and have the mandate to find out exactly what transpired, and identify suspected perpetrators.”
Amnesty International in a statement published Tuesday had alleged that security officials were alerted at least four hours before the girls were taken away, although the Nigerian military and police have faulted the claim.
But SERAP said only a thorough probe by a commission of inquiry would establish the truth about the abduction.
“The report and findings of the commission should be made public, and handed over to a judicial authority to pursue possible prosecutions,” the organisation said. “This is the surest way to end the constant abductions of our girls.”
SERAP said while it welcomes the news that many of the girls have now been released, they should not have been abducted in the first place.
“It’s now absolutely important for (President Muhammadu) Buhari to implement plans to make schools safer for students in the northeast of the country, if his government is to put a stop to constant abductions of Nigerian girls.”
It said never again should Nigerian girls be abducted from their schools, adding that the authorities have failed dismally to protect the girls and that Nigerians deserve to be told what the government is doing to identify those responsible for the abductions and bring them to justice.
“Protecting our schools against any attacks would align Nigeria with the growing global consensus that schools must be safe places, even during armed conflict. Constant attacks on our schools would undermine the government’s commitment to get more children, especially girls, into school – free from discrimination, in a safe environment where they can learn, grow, and thrive.”
According to the organisation, providing a safe school environment is crucial to making girls remain in school.
“Education is a powerful tool to ensure that women are aware of their rights and know how to claim them. It gives women more negotiating power in all aspects of their life. It can protect women from harmful practices and other forms of violence. Education is also crucial for women’s participation in economic, social and political life and necessary to break the cycle of discrimination and exclusion,” the organisation said.
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