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DAY 500: Non-release Of 219 Chibok Girls Harmful To Nigeria – Anglican Primate

Bring Back the GirlThe Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, has said that the continued stay of 219 Chibok girls in Boko Haram captivity has harmed the country.

He said, “The story of the Chibok girls is a bad story; bad story in the sense that the parents are not happy, the government is not happy and the public is baffled. From what the President is saying, you can sense that he is not happy about the inability of the government to bring the girls back. But here we are, some have said that the Chibok girls have been married off, some said they have been distributed to various places, that they are not together as a group, or they have been used as suicide bombers. We don’t know exactly. It complicates the situation. We are hoping that the military will be able to do more. All those areas that they have captured and rescued people, where are the Chibok girls? We have not really solved the problem. We have not reached them”.

Appeal to government…

“We appeal to government to seek a more advanced way of doing it in terms of technology which can help us locate their whereabouts. As it is now, the soldiers have searched the Sambisa Forest and have not been able to see them. It will continue to be a festering sore in our lives if we are unable to find these girls. We plead with our government, the US, EU, UN and anybody who can help us to come out and help us find the girls.”

500 Days: It is sad that abducted girls’ whereabouts are unknown – Hosea-Abana

In the words of the Chairman, Chibok Community in Abuja Tsambido Hosea-Abana, it is sad that the abducted girls’ whereabouts are still unknown after 500 days.

He said, “We are feeling very bad. It is not only that the girls were abducted, the pitiable thing is that we do not even know their whereabouts. We were accusing the past administration of not doing something visible. We were hoping that by now, we are in three months of the new administration, this administration would have established that these girls are in a particular place and they are working on ways to bring them out.”

The feelings of the Chibok girls…

We don’t know where they are, so we feel so sad. Even the parents at home, if you want to talk to them, some of them decide not to talk because of sadness and annoyance.

Call on government…

Our call on government, not only Nigerian government but also the world over, because this is a slap in the face of the whole world, that up till this moment, the girls have not been rescued; 500 days now and the Chibok girls are still in the hands of their captors. It is unbelievable. I am calling on the leaders of the whole world to rise up and do something. As for me, I am saying that they are not serious about our girls. We receive different visits from the international community; they would just say nice words and when they go, we won’t see anything. If they will come together, with air and ground armies, I believe they will track the girls. Everything has become political. There is no statement followed by action towards this issue. Right now, it is like only in the first week, we knew the girls were in a particular place. Now, we don’t even know where they are.

Thoughts on the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group…

If those who have power had put in efforts like the BBOG group, something would have happened by now. The resilience that this group has, if it wasn’t for them, the girls would have been forgotten. BBOG group has kept the girls in the minds of people.

Day 500: We are all with heavy hearts – Resilient activist and one of the leaders of BBOG group Aisha Yesufu

We are having heavy hearts. For me, right now, it is like there is a heavy load on my chest. I think the mood is throughout. People are just down that the girls are not yet back. None of us thought that at day 500, we would still be here. We didn’t know when we started this advocacy, that we would stay for more than two weeks. It is saddening. It is a shame that the abduction of over 200 girls couldn’t bring us close as a nation.

Call to government….

The government should ensure that the girls are rescued. As far as they are still with their captives, nobody is safe in Nigeria. We are failing our children and we are telling them that if they are kidnapped, nobody will do anything about it. We are sending a wrong signal to would-be terrorists that if any one of our citizens is abducted, nothing will be done about it. The primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives and properties of its citizenry. Right now, people don’t feel safe in the country. The government should wake up and do all it can. It is not only about talking; we need action, doing the right thing and ensuring that the girls are back home. They are a symbol of all those that were abducted before and after them. We have so many people in captivity and they need to come back home.

Our advocacy will continue…

We are not tired. We can never be tired. We have a slogan and we always ask ourselves, ‘When will we stop?’ and we reply, ‘Until our girls are back and alive’. How do you live your life and move on when your daughters are with monsters who are capable of doing terrible things? We have seen people who have been rescued, how they are; some are pregnant while others are HIV positive. Some of them are mentally deranged; they have gone through hell and the type of stories they tell are terrible stories. We won’t stop until the 219 girls are accounted for.

Chibok girls campaign has been tough – Ezekwesili

The activities of the Global Week of Action are to remind the world that we are still standing for the abducted girls. Some people never knew that the advocacy for the girls still continued. We want our government to rise up to their responsibility. It is their responsibility to bring back the girls and we won’t get tired of telling them that. The government needs to find the people who have our daughters and we need to get them back.

On the group…

It has been tough on us. If anybody had told us that we would be here beyond Day 50, we would not have believed them. But we are now in Day 500. We will not cry anymore. We have passed the stage of acting like victims. We should act as victors. We need strength to continue. We are going to be strong and we will maintain our point.

President’s statement

The President had said that the country cannot say that it has won the war against the insurgency without the girls being back. That statement is important; we lay emphasis on it and hope that the girls will be back soon.

On Nigerians…

Some Nigerians genuinely ask us if we are still standing for the girls. Those people need information to know that the group still exists through our twitter handle and everyday coverage by LEADERSHIP newspapers of our activities.

But some other Nigerians are people whose mission in life is mockery. These people keep asking if the Chibok girls were really abducted. For this category of people, we don’t need to bother ourselves about them. I tell you not to waste your time on them. It does not matter what you say. If they ever admit that the girls are abducted, it will make them lose their essence.

On Ban ki-Moon’s visit..

It was all about organisation of time. Ban ki-Moon could not address us because of time constraint. We pleaded with him to pass by and share his words with us. But his time was eaten into and he was to head to the dinner with the President. His not addressing the group was not out of disrespect.

At the time we had a meeting with victims of Boko Haram, they were begging the UN secretary general to help them get a sense of livelihood and what the UN secretary general could say was that he would call on Nigerians who pledged to help them in the Victims Support Fund to redeem their pledges.

This butresses the point that there is nobody outside our government that has the responsibility to rescue our girls. More is expected from our own government. We must continue to insist.

Chibok girls mark 500 Days in captivity

Today makes it 500 days that 219 girls were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok. LEADERSHIP reports on the events that shaped the campaign for the rescue of the girls.

BBOG group begins its first march

The “million-woman march,” called by the Women for Peace and Justice organisation was held in Abuja on April 30. It was led by Dr Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman and brought about 500 people who were mostly women dressed in red. They marched to the National Assembly and delivered a letter of complaint that stated that the government is not doing enough to ensure the release of the girls.

Other protests and rallies were carried out in Nigeria and other countries around the world simultaneously, in the days after the Abuja protest up until today. The group later became the #BringBackOurGirls group, which has been campaigning for the rescue of the Chibok girls till this date.

Time line

April 14, 2014

Boko Haram militants abduct about 276 girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok. The girls (who would later be referred to as the Chibok girls) were abducted at night, while in the school for their exams.

April 16

The government of Borno State announces a reward of nearly $300,000 for information leading to the rescue of the abducted schoolgirls. Former president Goodluck Jonathan summons his National Security Council to a meeting in Abuja. The president is said to have plans to review security measures and operations in an effort to determine the “best way forward.”

Nigeria’s military says it has freed the abducted Chibok girls with the exception of eight girls. The military also said that they captured one of the abductors.

April 17

Parents and the principal of the all-girls school dispute the military’s statement that all but eight of the girls are still missing. The parents and the principal say the number of girls that are still missing is 234 rather than the 129 previously mentioned by government officials.

Nigeria’s military retracts statement that only eight of the abducted girls are still missing.

April 24

The abducted Nigerian girls trends on Twitter in Nigeria with people using the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls and #WeAreOurDaughters to call on the authorities and the government to rescue the girls.

April 30

The “million-woman march,” called by the Women for Peace and Justice organisation is held in Abuja, led by Dr Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman and gathers about 500 people who were mostly women dressed in red. They marched to the National Assembly and delivered a letter of complaint that states that the government is not doing enough to ensure the release of the girls. Other protests and rallies were carried out in Nigeria and other countries around the world simultaneously and in the days after the Abuja protest up until today.

The group later became the #BringBackOurGirls group, which has been campaigning for the rescue of the Chibok girls till this date.

May 2

President Goodluck Jonathan announces a “fact-finding committee” to help in the search for the Chibok girls.

The president held a televised “Presidential Media Chat” in which he pledged that the girls would be found, yet admitted to not knowing where they are. He added that the parents of the abducted girls were not cooperating with officials in the investigation.

Former first lady of Nigeria, Patience Jonathan cries over the abducted schoolgirls.

May 5

In a video purported to be from Boko Haram, the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, claims responsibility for abducting the over 200 girls and threatens to sell them. He said, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”

The White House confirms that the United States is helping Nigeria in the quest to find and free the abducted schoolgirls.

May 6

British foreign minister, William Hague, offers “practical help” to Nigeria for efforts to secure the release of the girls.

US confirms that a team of US experts including military and law enforcement officials is heading to Nigeria to help find the Chibok girls.

May 7

Nigeria Police announce a cash reward of about $300,000 for “anyone who volunteers credible information that will lead to the location and rescue of the female students.” In their statement, they list phone numbers that citizens can call with information.

France announces that it will boost intelligence ties with Nigeria and send security service agents to the country to help tackle Boko Haram.

May 8

US first lady, Michelle Obama joins the call to rescue the abducted girls by posting a picture of herself holding a sign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. She joins the call with other world leaders and activists around the world.

May 9

Amnesty International says Nigerian security forces received warning four hours ahead of the raid on the girls’ boarding school but failed to act.

May 10

US first lady, Michelle Obama marks Mother’s Day by speaking on the abducted girls and the importance of girls’ education around the world.

May 11

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announces that it has increased collaboration with Nigeria’s government on security in efforts to combat Boko Haram’s cross-border terrorist activities.

French President Francois Hollande calls on African leaders to meet in Paris later in the week for a summit on how to deal with Boko Haram.

-Leadership

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