The King’s Speech: My #ChibokGirls Abduction Story

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Today, some unfortunate girls are marking a year since they were captured by Boko Haram.

For me and most of the first in the world to hear, I learnt about the abduction the next day. It was a beautiful morning in Maiduguri that probably didn’t break with the sound of gunshots, or if it did, it was definitely not the out of the ordinary type. I was a student of University of Maiduguri looking forward to my graduation. I was living in a flat off campus where I had one of the rooms, while my married neighbour was living on the other side of the flat, occupying two rooms.

That beautiful, hot morning of 15th April, she was very troubled. I greeted her and asked her what was wrong and she told me that Boko Haram hit Chibok the previous night. Being that she is a Chibok woman, I inquired how bad it was, how here people are and she told me that though some of the village was burnt, they did not really stop to do much killing as usual. Before I could sigh in relief, she told me that the terrorists, however, hit the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok. Though there wasn’t any much killing, some girls were abducted including her sisters. Now this might not have meant sisters in the dictionary sense as Chibok is a tightly knit community, the ones I know usually call each other sisters in that way so when she told me that, I was still relieved.

This was why. Before then in February, Boko Haram had a hit the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe and killed some about 59 boys as they slept – throwing bombs in their hostel rooms and following it with random gunfire, while some were knifed – and even on that same day of the 14th, not less than 88 were killed in a bomb blast in Nyanya, Abuja. Kidnapping of the girls as bad as it was, was much better than the usual scenario. This did not mean I was not sad or empathetic though, but when you live in Maiduguri, you learn to weigh stuff first.

The week after was a blur. I kept getting bits of information from my neighbour, Amarya, as she is fondly called. Seems the Boko Haram guys changed tactics for this particular attack. They came with trucks, dressed in army camo and told the school that they have intelligence that there will be an attack on the school. They posed as the military and told the girls that their mission was to carry them to safety. After they had secured the girls, they seized food from the stores and set some places on fire and shouted victory chants as they left.

At this point, the girls must have known they had entered one chance but were too helpless to do much about it. Only about two or so were brave enough to jump from the lorry and run off. Amarya was really distressed that month. Over the following weeks, the rest of the world continued on as normal. Outside Borno, not many were talking about it and I wasn’t surprised. There have been so many abductions that I couldn’t even keep track of most. Boko Haram was always abducting boys, girls and women and the world never cared and that was one thing that really saddened me – that this was how these girls will fade into obscurity.

At a later point, my house became a beehive of activity. Amarya’s relatives from Chibok had come into Maiduguri and she was going out for a lot for meetings with them. When she came back one evening, she told me that some few girls escaped from the camp in Sambisa Forest. How it happened was that the girls asked for permission to go into the bush and do their business and when no one was looking, one dragged the rest to escape. Amarya went to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital along with some of her kinfolk but the doctors allowed only few of them to see the victims. The girls were in intense trauma. The doctor said that the girls might never be the same again. According to him, must have been manhandled by beasts not humans – their breasts were bleeding and their vaginas torn. At this point, I shuddered to think what the other girls still there would be going through. Amarya told me that there were going to the Borno State Government House the next day to protest and I promised to follow them. Unfortunately for me, I had an exam that day and I couldn’t get there on time.

The protest was not successful though. Since Maiduguri was in a state of emergency, the soldiers told the women they were allowed to shoot. They did not let the women even near the government house and the uncaring governor refused to see them. They stood at a distance weeping and begging the government to do something. They were ignored,

Meanwhile, in Abuja, another version of this was playing out. Turns out our media started working and carried the news of the abductions, spurred by social media. Oby Ezekwesili who was vocal on the issue from the beginning was finally being heard, but the government decried it as an APC stunt. So we the people watched on as the lives of some 200+ girls were made into a chess political game with blames being traded instead of action. The Presidency did all it could to show how Governor Shettima had to be complicit in the abductions while the APC condemned the government for inaction. Meanwhile, Amarya and her relatives did not care about whose fault but only wanted their sisters/daughters to be rescued by their leaders. But the presidency continued being in denial till Malala Yousafzai had to come to Nigeria where President Jonathan meekly entertained her and made his first statement about the girls.

As it now marks a year since these girls have been abducted, I cannot begin to imagine what those girls have gone through. Or what their parents and relatives are going through. At this point, I am not optimistic about their return in a good shape but I pray that God will give them strength to carry on. As the war on Boko Haram goes on, I pray that something about the girls will be found so at least their families can have some closure if they cannot get them back. But till that happens, the government has to start doing more to #BringBackOurGirls. Much more.

King

King

King is a writer and guitarist. He is an opinionated, multi talented individual with love for music and everything it concerns

1 comment

  1. Really painful! We pray God and Government to save what remains of those girls… their suffering is past breaking point

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