Activists and some parents of the abducted school girls in Chibok, Borno State, marched in Lagos Thursday demanding urgent results on the students’ whereabouts.
The march was to commemorate exactly two years since over 200 girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, were abducted after armed Boko Haram terrorists stormed their school hostel, in the dead of the night.
Despite repeated promises by the government that it would rescue the girls, their whereabouts remained unknown.
Habiba Balogun, one of coordinators of the #BringBackOurGirls movement in Lagos, said they would not stop until the girls are returned “back and alive.”
“Amongst us here we have one of the fathers of the Chibok girls, we have mothers of the Chibok girls,” said Ms. Balogun.
“Hope endures. They are alive. Not one body of those 219 girls, there’s no corpse that has appeared. And there have been glimpses of them from time to time. We will not give up hope and we will not stop fighting for them.
“Our demand from our government is to bring back our girls now and alive. We want results from the rescue operation. We are asking for the truth and nothing but the truth. We will not stop until our girls are back and alive.”
The #BringBackOurGirls movement began in May 2014, one month after the girls’ abduction, to put pressure on the government to rescue the students.
In Abuja, the members participate in a daily sit-in while those in Lagos meet every Saturday, according to Ms. Balogun.
An uncle to one of the abducted students, Yahi Bwada, said some of the girls’ parents had died as a result of the psychological trauma.
“What’s the meaning of the life? I know how many of us that are dead because of our daughters,” said Mr. Bwada, who was clutching a newspaper displaying the photos of all the abducted students, published two years ago.
Mr. Bwada said his niece, Comfort Bulus, was like a daughter to him because he began taking care of her after her father passed on, six months before the abduction.
“What I know is I lost my daughter,” he said.
“And we cannot forget, they are living. If they are dead, the last dust poured on their grave will be forgotten, but they are living we cannot forget the living. We didn’t see our daughters’ corpse so we cannot forget until the government do something.”
Mr. Bwada said he was in Chibok on the night of the girls’ abduction.
“I was among the people that made the first call to the then government of Goodluck Jonathan, but it was just unfortunate,” he said.
“I know Nigerian army are trying, but you cannot say you are trying if you are a footballer, football is about winning, about scoring. You say you are trying, where are the girls? Bring them for us.
“Jonathan said the girls are alive. Buhari said the girls are alive. Where are they? Bring them for me.”
On Thursday, the #BBOG members and some relatives of the girls marched hundreds of metres to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s office where they were told the governor had gone to attend a town hall meeting.
Wasiu Yusuf, a security assistant to the governor, said he would receive their demands and pass it to Mr. Ambode when he returns.
“This issue is touching for everyone concerned, and indeed all Nigerians,” Mr. Yusuf said.
In a related development, ActionAid, a human rights group, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue the Chibok girls and others persons held in captivity.
In a statement on Thursday, the group said 10 months after Mr. Buhari promised to rescue the girls, they are still missing.
“ActionAid also wishes to point out that the failure to rescue the Chibok girls has not only traumatised the Chibok community, but has far-reaching implications for achieving the sustainable development goals,” said Ojobo Atuluku, Country Director, ActionAid.
“Unsafe cities and schools continue to erode the gains in education for girls and in gender equality and women’s empowerment in Nigeria.
“ActionAid further calls on the federal and state governments to put in place security mechanisms in all schools across the country, whether they are private or government-owned, to forestall the likelihood of another Chibok-style abduction ever happening in the country.”