Amnesty International, has highlighted the failure of the Nigerian government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue 98 out of the 276 students who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from a girls’ secondary school in Chibok nine years ago.
This revelation comes despite repeated abductions of Nigerian children by terrorists and bandits, indicating a lack of accountability and failure to learn from the Chibok incident.
Amnesty International has pointed out that over 61 children are still being held captive by gunmen, even after years since their abduction, reflecting the impunity of the perpetrators due to the lack of accountability for crimes against children.
The organization further emphasized that numerous schools, especially those with girls, have been targeted by Boko Haram and gunmen, resulting in abductions, rape, killings, and forced “marriages” of the victims. Shockingly, the Nigerian authorities have not conducted credible investigations into the security failures that made children vulnerable to such atrocities.
In a statement, the Acting Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, urged the Nigerian authorities to take meaningful action against armed groups like Boko Haram and gunmen, and fulfill their obligation to safeguard all children. He emphasized that the missing Chibok school girls should be returned to their families, and those responsible for grave violations must face justice.
Amnesty International also highlighted that there have been five reported cases of abductions from schools in Northern Nigeria between December 2020 and March 2021, leading to the closure of over 600 schools in the region due to the threat of further attacks. The organization interviewed five Chibok school girls who had escaped from Boko Haram, as well as their parents, and noted that there is a sense of hopelessness among the victims’ families about the rescue of the remaining 98 girls.
The parents of the Chibok girls who are still held by Boko Haram expressed concerns about the brutal treatment suffered by their daughters who refused to be “married” by the insurgents.
They also highlighted the financial burden of caring for the returnee children and grandchildren, as well as societal rejection and stigma. The parents stated that the Nigerian authorities have abandoned them, with no communication or support.
Amnesty International further emphasized that since February 2021, the northern regions of Nigeria have witnessed repeated attacks on schools and religious institutions, resulting in the abduction of over 780 children for ransom, with more than 61 children still in captivity after two years. Many schools in the region remain closed due to rising insecurity.
Amnesty International’s Acting Director called on the outgoing government of Nigeria to prioritize the rescue of the remaining Chibok girls and all other children held by armed groups, and ensure that this task does not become another failed project. The importance of bringing these girls and other victims back to their families cannot be overstated.