Tuesday, July 22, 2014 11:05 pm
LAGOS – July 23rd, 100 days exactly, since the fateful event of April 14, when more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria by the Islamist group, Boko Haram.
A total of 276 girls were kidnapped. At first, it seemed a false claim and as reality da
wned, fear replaced disbelief at the plight of the school girls abducted at an examination center in the remote Chibok community, in Borno state.
Soon, the case of Chibok missing girls attracted worldwide condemnation, going by efforts of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group, prompting an international rescue effort.
Of that number, 51 girls returned home by their own efforts having managed to escape from the Sambisa forest, while 219 are still held captive.
The army has been criticised for failing to quell the Islamist insurgency, which has killed more than 10,000 people since 2009.
Here is a timeline of the events so far:
– 14: 276 young girls, aged from 12 to 17, are seized in Chibok, a remote corner of Borno state in northeastern Nigeria.
Boko Haram gunmen storm the girls’ boarding school, forcing them from their dormitories onto trucks and driving them into the bush. Fifty-seven girls manage to flee.
– 29: Parents lash out at the government’s failure to rescue the girls.
– 1: Hundreds of parents, many dressed in red, protest in Chibok to demand help from the government and other countries.
– 5: Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau says in a video that his group carried out the mass abduction and vows to sell the girls as slave brides.
– 7: US First Lady Michelle Obama tweets a picture of herself with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls, joining the social media campaign that has also attracted politicians, actors and other prominent public figures like Pakistani eduction activist Malala Yousafzai and CNN star anchor Christiane Amanpour.
– 9: Amnesty International claims that Nigeria’s military was warned of the school attack but failed to take action due to lack of manpower. The military denies the allegation.
The UN Security Council strongly condemns the mass kidnappings which it says “may amount to crimes against humanity” under international law.
– 10: British, French and US experts cooperate in the search operation. China and Israel also offer assistance.
– 12: Boko Haram releases a new video showing the missing girls, alleging that the teenagers have converted to Islam and will not be released until militant prisoners are freed.
– 14: The US army says it is using surveillance drones and aircraft to help the search operation.
– 16: President Goodluck Jonathan cancels a scheduled visit to Chibok, prompting fresh criticism from families affected by the attack.
– 17: Meeting in Paris, Nigeria and its neighbours Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger vow to work together to fight Boko Haram in what Cameroon President Paul Biya describes as a declaration of war.
— JUNE —
– 7: At least 20 young mothers are abducted from a nomadic settlement near Chibok by suspected members of the group, according to local residents.
– 12: Representatives from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin agree in London to strengthen joint efforts to find the schoolgirls and defeat Boko Haram.
– 24: Local officials say at least 30 people were killed and 68 women and girls abducted in several fresh attacks. On July 4 however, 63 of them manage to escape.
— JULY —
– 15: Jonathan offers to meet the relatives of the hostages for the first time since the mass abduction, after being urged to do so by Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.
The families reject the president’s invite, demanding that he meet with all the parents, not a select few.
– 18: Borno state Governor Kashim Shettima says that 176 teachers have been killed and 900 schools destroyed in Borno since Boko Haram began attacking them in 2011, because they are centres of Western education
– 22: First meeting between the president and the schoolgirls’ relatives.
The meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan, some parents of the abducted girls, Chibok community leaders, the 51 girls who escaped, and key government officials was held at the Presidential Villa in Nigeria’s capital city.
The President said the administration is doing everything humanly p
ossible to rescue the over 200 girls abducted from a college there in April and return them safely to their parents while stating that “Anyone who gives you the impression that we are aloof and that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to get the girls out is not being truthful.”
On Tuesday, Nigeria’s former minister, one of the coordinators of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group speaking in an interview Live on BBC HARDtalk in London said “there is still hope” for the missing girls.
The #BringBackOurGirls campaign group plan to again, draw attention to the plight of the missing girls as they have done for almost in more than 75 days, by holding up their placards in solidarity with the families of the missing girls.
It appears that is all there is to do – to keep hope alive- and believe that soon the 219 girls like the 51 others would return home to safety.