bring back our girls

Chibok: There May never be Girls to be brought back

Commentary to mark one year of the kidnap of the Chibok girls

It is one year today that over 300 girls were kidnapped from their school dormitories by members of Boko haram, the brutal terror group that has set Northeastern Nigeria ablaze, established a caliphate and has murdered up to 20,000 Nigerians since 2009.

bring back our girlsThe Nigerian government showed marked incompetence in its handling of the kidnap of these girls, whose only crimes were going to school to make their future brighter and the country better. The government was in denial at the crucial hours after the kidnap, when chances of recovering the girls were at its highest point. Nothing was done in those crucial hours, until Boko haram got away and tucked its booty safely away in its hideout, from where it distributed the girls to its soldiers for their sexual needs. Some of them were sold into sex slavery as the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau boasted.

It was not until International outcry roused the government out of its slumber that concrete steps were taken to see to the recovery of the girls. But all efforts in this regard has proven futile up to this point. It is regrettable that a government could so betray its citizens in the most fundamental duties that a government owes its citizens; namely that of safeguarding their lives and property. The point remains that in Chibok, Nigeria failed her children. Nigeria disappointed her posterity. In Chibok, Nigeria officially told the whole world that the lives of its children, most especially that of girls does not matter much.

Chibok may have been dramatic. But Chibok is not the first time that Nigeria has failed its most defenseless members, namely its children. In Akwa Ibom State, the Nigerian State kept quiet for so long as its children were labelled as witches under the prodding of many evangelist preachers, and killed by their guardians and parents. Till date, no one has been brought to justice for those dastard acts of child abuse.

Today, thanks to Boko Haram, over 1.5 million Nigerians are refugees in their own country. And 200,000 of these refugees are children. One can see the collective morality of a country in the way it treats its weakest members. And Nigeria has severally failed in this regard.

Today as we mark one year of the disappearance of the Chibok girls, the possibility remains there that those girls may never be found again. Boko Haram if pushed to the wall in a final act of desperation may decide to execute and murder all of them in a collective suicide, like we have seen from other desperate religious-cults in history.

Nigerians should brace themselves to the fact that those girls that left their homes as young girls, if ever they are recovered, are coming back as bundles of traumatized and abused individuals. They have been brutalized in the worst possible way imaginable, and have been isolated from their most intimate acquaintances; raped for good measure by the sadistic wiles and caprices of murderous men.

We will never recover them as girls anymore. There may never be girls to bring back. If the new government succeeds in bringing them home, they are not girls anymore. They are collective placards of our failure as a nation.

We keep on hoping against hope that these girls have not been used as suicide bombers, or executed. Some of them for sure have been impregnated by the terrorists. Some have been killed or died of other causes while in captivity. Justice will never be served until the last of these girls come home to their parents and families, or their bodies recovered and given burials befitting human beings.

When the history of modern Nigeria is written, Chibok will stand out as a serious blot, and an inerasable indictment on the rank incompetence of the rogues of state who fiddled while Nigeria burnt.

IMAGE: George Redgrave

Written by
Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh
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