It’s been a solid 14 days since the devastating news of over 230 abducted Nigerian school girls rocked our worlds. These hundreds of girls from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State are still missing and by the looks of it, the Boko Haram (an Islamic insurgent terrorist group opposed to western education with ties to the Al Quaeda) may be to blame. The group’s name literally translates to “western education is a sin.” This violent group launched a relentless campaign on Nigeria, targeting markets, mosques, schools and more. In fact, the school where the 234 girls were abducted was the last one open in the region.
In response to the abductions, women in Nigeria met and are planning to hold a million woman march in Abuja in hopes of securing the release of their girls. The meeting had in attendance wives of service chiefs in the state, nongovernmental organizations, women professional bodies, representatives of Federation of Muslims Women Associations (FOMWAN), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) among others.
According to Vanguard, Professor Hauwa Abdu Biu, the march organizer, has named the march “Free Our Girls,” and women throughout the country are expected to participate and wear red to show solidarity. The first lady of Borno, Hajiya Nana Kashim Shettima said, “I want to seek this opportunity to appeal to women of security chiefs at the national and state level to run and mount pressures on your spouse’s to intensify effort to rescue our dear children however I feel it is necessary to call on all women in Borno to come up with their resolutions and harmonize them.”
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The girls (between 16 and 18-years-old) had literally just finished their final school exams and were rounded up at gunpoint after militants overpowered a military guard assigned to a boarding school in Chibok. And no one has seen them since. Danuma Mpur, the chairman of the local parent-teacher association, whose two nieces are among the missing, said, “Even this morning we’ve had no update. We pinned our hopes on the government, but all that hope is turning to frustration. The town is under a veil of sorrow.”
Absolutely no progress has been made on tracking the girls’ whereabouts, either by the military or by groups of machete-weilding parents searching through the countryside. We previously reported that parents were beginning to lose all hope that they would find their daughters. “We have been in grief for the past four days over the kidnap of our daughters and hoping the military would rescue them, but to our greatest shock and disbelief the same military has resorted to blatant propaganda, claiming all but eight of our girls have been freed,” said Lawan Zanna, father of one of the students. “This is a blatant lie. For the military, who is supposed to find and rescue our children, to be spreading such lies shows that they have no intention of rescuing our girls.”
In fact, the military is facing threats from the Boko Haram if they don’t call off the search efforts. It’s being reported that parents have banned together to hire 100 okada (commercial motorcyclists) to intensify their search for their children but to no avail. The okada were urged to return to the parents empty-handed and with a haunting message: the Boko Haram would “eliminate” both the parents and the children if they continued to search.
“I am not happy; the security agents are trying. The girls would be found,” Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima stated.
Whenever anyone goes missing, especially children, there’s always hope upon hope that they are found. I know that I have never personally seen hundreds of people missing all at once, but I do realize that the odds are stacked against them being found.
A total of 240,411 minorities were reported missing in the United States (out of 627,911 for all races) in 2011. And this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. So in Nigeria, where they’ve been at a state of emergency over the last year and civilians are losing their lives on a daily basis–the likelihood of these girls being found is slim to none without everyone raising their voice to demand action. But I believe in miracles. Here’s
TAKE ACTION: Sign the Change.org petition that has been created so that this situation can be given the right level of coverage in international media and be addressed as a priority issue by the UNICEF, UNWomen and other international organization that can put significant pressure on the Nigerian Government to intensify its search efforts.