Saturday, April 26, 2014

What Have They Done To Our Daughters? -Parents Of Borno Abducted Girls

“IT was like death when it happened. We cried. We shouted. We even cursed.” This is a lamentation of one of the hapless parents who have had misery etched on their faces since their daughters were abducted by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents and taken to God-knows-where. The fate of the girls, who were taken right from their school ground, Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, still hangs in the balance.

The miserable parents now appear torn between a seeming lethargic government and their own helplessness in rescuing the situation. They cannot have a closure because their daughters are not dead. They cannot rest because their children remain stashed away in a thick forest. They have swallowed a pestle, neither can they stand nor sit any longer. Would they be justified to have a moment of comfort when their children might be languishing in a place far beyond their reach? Can they spare a moment without agonising over the lot of their little ones? This is a question any true parent should be able to answer. Continue after the cut.

A few of the affected parents shared their tales of woe with Saturday Tribune.

According to Mr Pagu Haruna, he could not describe how he felt about the incident. For him, Awa, his daughter, was a promising child, well-behaved and dedicated to her studies. He said he could not imagine what might be happening to her but he hoped that she would return home like others so he could be happy again.

“I am a sad man. I was among those who went out after our daughters. I am missing a daughter, a niece and a girl put in my care, a friend’s daughter, who is not from Chibok. So, I cannot explain how I am feeling. But I feel the principal should have known that the military would not come to a place like that at the time they did to evacuate students to safety without having one or two of the officers who would be known to the school authorities.

“There were security operatives guarding the school. She should have asked questions before handing over the students in her care to anybody for whatever reasons. We understand the circumstance, but a person in charge of a school, a hospital or any other place like that should be able to think in such a situation.

“If they had taken those students by force, perhaps something could have been done to arrest the situation before they left town but they simply identified themselves as security operatives who wanted to evacuate the students to safety. Although I am not blaming the principal, I feel something is amiss. If I were in her place, I would have asked questions so that when parents came as we all went to her, she would have tangible answers to give us, but all we are being told is one story or another.

“The number keeps changing and we are confused. When we started hearing gunshots in the night, we thought it was the military because sometimes, they would be firing in the night perhaps to scare away whoever might be having some funny ideas. But that night, it was different.

Suddenly, there were people shouting and the sound of guns became louder and more rapid.

“Chibok is like one family; our relatives who are living as far away as Abuja were the ones who called to inform us that the school was attacked and our children had been abducted. I was frightened when my younger brother, a military officer, who is in Abuja, called me to ask about our well-being at about 1.00 pm. I told him we were at home but there was trouble and he told me that he was aware because a relation of ours who was also in Abuja called him. 

“When he said he heard that our only school was attacked and our daughters were taken, I rushed out of the house. I met some of our people who were already outside and they came with the same report. It was at that moment that all of us came together and went towards the school area and saw it still burning with a few students who had escaped the attack. The students were the ones who told us that some of their colleagues were taken by soldiers in uniform.

“At that time, we were relieved until we realised that our daughters were actually in the hands of insurgents, and not soldiers as we were earlier told. We became confused. I broke down in tears. The women wailed and since then, we have not had rest of minds. It was one story leading to another. Even when the governor came, we thought the government wanted to announce officially that they had rescued our children, but he had only come to give us hope. He left with a promise to ensure a safe return of our children. We don’t know how these young children are doing out there in the bush with strange men around them,” he said.

Another parent, Mallam Yaga Chiroma, told Saturday Tribune that: “This is very unfortunate. The government is saying all sorts of things, but my brother, we are feeling the pain. We told the governor our minds when he came to Chibok. We told him it was wrong to mention figures that are not true. They took away 234 children, not 129. We only saw about 40 of our children, the rest of them are out there waiting to be rescued. We have lost all hope in the government. They say one thing and do another. We appreciate the fact that the governor came to commiserate with us, but we are not trusting in his promises. We have turned to God for the salvation of our daughters. This was the first time the governor would be coming to Chibok since the beginning of this crisis. We thank him for remembering us. We have been wounded. We have been broken. We have been cheated. We are sad.

“My daughter’s name is Falmata. I  hope to see her again but I do not believe all that the government or the principal is saying because they did not go with us to search for our daughters. In fact, it was by the grace of God that those of us who went into the forest to search for them were able to come back alive. We abandoned the search when, at a point, we were surrounded by strange men who warned us not to go further. It was as if all hope was lost, but when we returned home, people who came around to talk to us encouraged us and we are waiting for a miracle to happen. I would have personally invited you to Chibok but I know it is not possible for you to come, but the pain is everywhere; everybody in Chibok is affected. If your daughter is not among these children, your niece, your neighbour’s daughter, a friend’s daughter or at least a close relation would be among them. Some people are now thinking of going the old way - invoking the ancient spirit - but those of us who are believers are hoping for a miracle,” Chiroma said.

Stephen Abana, who spoke with Saturday Tribune on the incident, said his late brother’s daughter, who is in his care, is among the abducted girls.

According to him, his own daughter was one of those who fled when the attackers came to their school. “I cannot relax: my biological daughter escaped, but my late brother’s daughter, who is also my daughter, is with Boko Haram. I feel the pain like any other father in Chibok. We are all kibaku, one family. We feel the pain of our loss, but we are praying for our children’s safety and their return home. It was like death when it happened. We cried. We shouted. We even cursed. We went out after them, but we came back with no success because we did not bring back with a single girl that was abducted from the school. If we had weapons, we could have fought our way into the den of the abductors. Many would die and we could have made progress. This is our story in Chibok. We, however, have not lost hope that our children will be back.

“Our people are brave. Yes. But we cannot confront those who abducted our children. The soldiers could not get half of the way we went. But the truth is that there is nothing that we can do except the Federal Government sends soldiers after these people along with some of our people who know the forest and bring our girls back home. We must also prepare our minds for any eventuality if soldiers must go there to get these girls. It is not going to be easy confronting them and getting the girls without any of them getting hurt. But if the government could find a way to avoid confrontation, we will appreciate it because everybody wants to have their daughters back safe.

“We do not know how they are treating our daughters now. Whatever is happening or has happened to them, we do not know. Our prayer is that every one of them will come back to us alive. When the governor came, we pleaded with him to assist us and he promised to do something even though some of us did not believe the government. I believe it is natural to have different views and opinions when something like this happens, but we can do nothing other than to plead with the government, hear what they have to tell us and wait for their action whether it comes or not,” he said.

Meanwhile, women in the state under the umbrella of Baobab for Women’s Rights have condemned the abduction of the female students as well as other females abducted in Dikwa and other parts of the state and the North-East by Boko Haram insurgents. They described the act as inhuman and detrimental to the efforts of the government to enhance girl-child education and develop the state and the country at large.

The women, through their leader, Professor Hauwa Abdu Biu, told journalists in Maiduguri that the abduction of the  young girls was a violation of their rights. According to them, abduction is a crime against humanity and is prohibited under international humanitarian law. Violence such as attacks on schools denies children their rights to learn in a safe environment, thereby jeopardising their future.

“We also condemn all other attacks in the form of bomb blasts and serial killings all over the country and commiserate with the families of those that lost their lives during the unfortunate incidents. We called on the sect members to release all those in their custody without harming them and, as a matter of urgency, lay down their arms and embrace dialogue. We also wish to assure all those abducted of our motherly support towards rehabilitating them when the need arises,” the women said.

While commending the efforts of the federal and state governments as well as security operatives and volunteer groups towards addressing insurgency in the state, the group appealed for the provision of adequate security in all schools so as to have safe learning environment for the young ones.

In the meantime, the principal of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, Mrs Asabe Kwambura, has cleared the air as to the status of the school. She said the school, which was initially only meant for girls and as such, was known as Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, was in 2011 converted into a mixed school by the government, hence, it was now known as Government Secondary School, Chibok. She put the students’ population at 935.

The principal told journalists during the week that the number of missing students now stands at 230. “Initially, before the arrival of the governor, 234 were missing but four students returned. The number of girls rescued so far is 43.  I have only received 43 students and handed them over to their parents. The initial 129 figure I gave was those that sat for examination on the day they were abducted. The total number of boarding female students is 405. This means that out of 405 students, we have 230 that are still missing. But the other issue is that out of the 230 missing girls, some of them ran home to meet their parents and we have not received any information on them,” she said.


  1. Oga Jonah should do something abeg, this is becoming disgrace! Nigerian Musician in Sextape scandal

  2. Laduns biggest fan26 April, 2014 11:10

    BBC Radio 5 Live did a one hour special on this yesterday.

    The Governor said all Moslems and Christians should pray for the return of the children. WTF? Of course they have been doing that and what a silly thing to say.

    They interviewed some parents who said they had no problem with Boko Haram but they want their children back. More WTF. Will these same parents accept an exchange for those children? Release the children and take the fathers.

    When GEJ declared a state of emergency he should have removed the Governor according to what the constitution stipulates (Section 305) and he should have appointed a Military Administrator. At times like these, I miss OBJ. PDP is inept and is afraid of what the Northern leadership will do if he had done that. Shame.

    Why can't they deploy Air force aircraft to comb the area by air and even Infantry soldiers to comb the bushes? We have the Armed Forces don't we?

    People said the Governor has no control over the security forces. Shakes head. Then why doesn't he call the Federal Government to take control?

    Poor children.

    1. Laduns biggest fan26 April, 2014 13:07

      Just read an article on a "sister" blog. Wow, just wow! They know what they are doing and what they need to do. Sad.

  3. Do we still have hope in Nigeria?

  4. I regret having these shameless leaders in our country ....God will judge them all

  5. SAD!!! Father GoD Remember With U All Things Are Possible. In You I Trust.

  6. It's still painful though

  7. They knw where d girls are, why cannt they send the army there? The helicopters are for their political campain and to shuttle girl friends abi? God will surely punish these uselsee leaders led by clueless Jona. God our hope is in u

  8. I see, now so some people can invoke the ancient spirits now that they are feeling the pinch in the shoes abi?
    anyhow I don't want to sound petty and for the sake of the innocent girls, I pray they are returned home safely
    I can only imagine the kind of hunger those girls are feeling, how on earth does one feed 200 plus humans, some on their periods, bathing, crowded sleeping areas this is so freaking sad .

  9. May God intervene

  10. May God bring all the girls back home safely
    Those are Nig's future mums


  11. Think these parents say dem don ccept say dem children don and dem don do proper burial prayer

  12. Think these parents say dem don ccept say dem children don and dem don do proper burial prayer