BBOG arrives North-east for Sambisa forest tour

FILE PHOTO: #BringBackOurGirls protest in 2014 prior to the 2015 presidential election
FILE PHOTO: #BringBackOurGirls protest in 2014 prior to the 2015 presidential election

Representatives of the BringBackOurGirls Group have arrived the north-east to observe efforts being made by soldiers to free the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

The group will join a federal government delegation for the tour.

The government delegation includes the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; his counterpart for defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, and the Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar.

The Federal Government had invited members of the advocacy group to join in a short tour of the Sambisa forest to observe the search by the military for the missing schoolgirls.

The forest was a Boko Haram stronghold and the location the terror group was believed to be hiding the abducted schoolgirls.

The group had in a letter to the federal government on Friday requested that the January 16 date of the tour be changed until some issues were resolved.

The Nigerian government however refused to shift the date.

On arrival at the Air Force Base in Yola, the Nigerian Air Force briefed the delegation on the military operations so far.

The Commanding Officer, Nurudeen Balogun, an Air Vice Marshal, explained that over N2 billion was spent in 2016 to ensure a functional air component of the ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’, the code name for the military campaign against the insurgency.

According to a report by Channels Television, Mr. Balogun assured members of the Bring Back Our Girls group that efforts were on to find the remaining schoolgirls and other abducted persons.

He added that the latest release of some captives was secured between January 7 and 12 and that those released had been handed over to the troops in Maiduguri.

Boko Haram had seized 276 pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014. About 57 of the girls managed to escape in the immediate aftermath of the abduction.

The kidnap has since become a hot political issue in Nigeria, with the government and military criticized for their handling of the incident and the failure to rescue all of the girls.

About 2,000 have been reportedly abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, with many of the women used as sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers, according to Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organization.

The BBOG began its campaign for the rescue of the Chibok girls two weeks after they were abducted on April 14, 2014.

More than a thousand days after, 195 of the girls remain with their Boko Haram abductors.

Negotiations between the federal government and the Boko Haram had led to the release of 21 of the girls while another three were freed by soldiers. Dozens of others had escaped on their own.

Despite losing most of the territory they controlled at some point, including the dreaded Sambisa forest to Nigerian troops, the insurgents have kept hold of the 195 girls.


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