It’s been a year since over 200 girls were abducted from Chibok, Borno State by the Boko Haram insurgents.
The girls were taken on April 14, 2014, as they prepared for exams at the Government Girls’ Secondary School in the community.
Their kidnapping was first of all dismissed by the Nigerian government as a farce and a fabrication.
Two days after the abduction, on April 16, Nigerian military authorities claimed that they had rescued about 100 of the missing girls, a claim that turned out to be false.
“In the light of the denial by the principal of the school, the Defence Headquarters wishes to defer to the school principal and Governor’s statement … and retract,” Nigerian Defence Spokesperson, Chris Olukolade said on April 18, withdrawing the statement of the girls’ purported rescue.
However, it took local and international outrage and the creation of a viral hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls, to force the Nigerian government to acknowledge the missing girls and begin rescue efforts.
On May 5, Boko Haram released a video in which young girls believed to be the Chibok girls were seen.
Sect leader, Abubakar Shekau admitted that he had taken the girls and that they would be sold into slavery and married off.
The video further attracted international attention as several countries volunteered their help to Nigeria in a bid to find the girls.
However, as US President, Barack Obama stated during a recent interview with YouTube sensation, Bethany Mota, the Nigerian government was itself not effective against Boko Haram and this threw a wrench in efforts to rescue the girls.
Nobel Peace Laureate, Malala Yousafzai paid a visit to the country in July 2014 in a bid to convince President Goodluck Jonathan to do more to find the girls and many saw her visit as the first time Jonathan would admit that the girls had indeed gone missing.
Some of the missing girls managed to escape from their captors and told tales of darkness and horror.
It has been widely believed that the girls were taken to a vast expanse of land known as Sambisa Forest, a dreaded Boko Haram hideout.
However, the exact location and whereabouts of the Chibok girls still remain unknown.
On September 23, 2014, news of another rumoured rescue was reported in the media and said to have been confirmed by a top military source and spokesperson, Olukolade.
The rumours were spurred after two buses filled with the girls were reportedly driven into the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri.
The military however denied that the Chibok girls had been rescued and so the wait and the search continued.
In October 2014, the Nigerian government reportedly agreed to a ceasefire with Boko Haram.
The terrorists supposedly agreed to release the girls if some of their fighters were also released by the government.
Various dates were proposed for the girls’ purported release with October 20 given as the final deadline.
However, the date passed and the girls were not released and the ceasefire deal between the sect and the government, if there was ever any, fell through.
Meanwhile, the #BringBackOurGirls group championed by former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili was formed.
The group held vigils and rallies and raised awareness about the continued captivity of the girls.
President Jonathan repeatedly refused to meet with the group and Mrs Ezekwesili was branded an opportunist and a propagandist by the government.
A supposed Boko Haram escapee, named Mbutu Papka claimed that she had seen the girls in Gwoza, Borno State before her release on March 15, 2015 after eight months in captivity.
“In the camp at Gwoza, there were clear demarcations between where people were kept. The Chibok girls, other captives and Boko Haram members and their family members all had their separate areas secured, though the security in the area where the girls are kept is visibly different and much tighter,” she said.
However, Gwoza, believed to be Boko Haram’s headquarters, was recaptured by the Nigerian Army on March 27 and there was no sign of the missing girls.
Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka said during an interview with BBC Hardtalk on Thursday, March 5, 2015, that the girls may not be found.
“Boko Haram is a terror group, it has decimated (sic) the girls across vast areas of land in Borno State…Maybe we will find them, maybe not,” Chidoka said when asked if the missing girls would ever be rescued.
President Goodluck Jonathan however stated during a BBC interview on March 20,2015 that he believed the girls were still alive.
“We haven’t seen dead girls so I believe the Chibok girls are still alive. I believe we’ll get them,” Jonathan said.
It’s been one year since the girls were taken and there is still no clue of their whereabouts and no information as to the rescue attempts made by the Nigerian government.
Malala in a letter written on March 13, 2015, condemned the government and leaders around the world for failing to bring the girls home.
Several events are being held around the world in the girls’ honour today and across seas and terrestrial boundaries, one message rings true; the Chibok girls will never be forgotten.