Nigeria yet to rescue 96 Chibok girls abducted in Borno 9 years ago

Saturday April 15 2023
rescued Chibok girls

Nigeria's President Mohammud Buhari (C) with some of the rescued Chibok girls in Abuja. PHOTO | COURTESY


Nigeria is yet to rescue 96 of the 276 students of Chibok Girls Science Secondary School in Northeast Borno State who were abducted by Boko Haram militias nine years ago.

Friday marked the ninth year since the schoolgirls were abducted on April 14, 2014 from their dormitories.

A rescue mission for some of the schoolgirls started in 2016, a year after Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari defeated his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

The rescue efforts for the girls came with extras as some of them returned home with babies, with at least 96 of them still in captivity.

Fighters of Islamic State West African Province (Iswap) also unleashed terror on girls and women in northeast Nigeria, particularly in Borno, according to Unicef.


Unicef on Friday said thousands of children have been subjected to grave violations of their rights. 

On April 7, 2023, 80 children were reportedly abducted by militants in Northwest Zamfara State's Tsafe Local Government Area (LGA).

“These recent abductions reinforce the urgent need for action to protect children in Nigeria,” Unicef Communications Officer Safiya Yoba Akau said.

Read: OBBO: If states continue to neglect their armed forces they risk giving room to jihadists

 “The statistics are disturbing, and the reality is devastating. It has been nine years since the horrendous abduction of the Chibok girls, yet the nightmare continues as children are still being kidnapped, forcibly recruited, killed and injured with their futures torn away,” Unicef’s Nigeria Representative Cristian Munduate said in Abuja.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of Nigeria’s children. We must do everything in our power to ensure they grow up in safety, with access to education and the opportunity to fulfil their potential,” Munduate added.

There have been over 2,400 reported incidents of children’s rights violations since 2014, affecting over 6,800 children in North-east Nigeria.

“Most common violations are recruitment or use of children by armed groups with 700 confirmed cases, followed by abductions of children with 693 incidents, and killing with 675 incidents,” she said.

Munduate said Unicef welcomes Nigerian government's signing of the Unicef-supported handover protocol and its commitment to invest N144.8 billion ($314.5 million) towards the Safe Schools Financing Plan in 2022.

She says Unicef is ready to support Nigeria’s implementation to ensure that all children encountered in conflict areas or released from armed groups are quickly reunited with their families and benefit from reintegration programmes.

Unicef called on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and protect the rights of children.  

The government of former Nigerian president Jonathan was hapless as the country’s military was handicapped with inadequacy to fight Boko Haram and, therefore, could not rescue the girls despite global outrage.

Read: Nigerian rights panel probes powerful military

Since 2015, many of the girls have been freed through high level negotiations. However, many are still reported to be scattered all over militia territories within or outside Borno State.

Fortunately, some of the schoolgirls have managed to escape while some have been found during military operations designed to wipe out Boko Haram.

President Buhari had said the government would ensure the recovery of all the schoolgirls and would implement programmes that would ensure they were fully integrated into the society and their needs provided.

Outgoing President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO | KOLA SULAIMON | AFP

Buhari said that although the girls had experienced the worst the world could give,  they would get the best rehabilitation the world can offer.

A father of one of the girls still in captivity, 76-year-old Domat Joshua, on Thursday said that he is still hopeful that his daughter will return home.

“I know that most of them have been married to terrorists, but I am very sure that mine will return home,’’ he said.

The insurgency orchestrated by Boko Haram terrorists has killed more than 65,000 Nigerians since 2009 and displaced more than 2.1 million who are currently being rehabilitated.

Many Nigerian schools and social infrastructures are currently being rehabilitated as life returns gradually despite militias’ target on the country’s soft spots.