Chibok Girls: Four Years After, Tears Still Flow–Report

By Ikenga Chronicles April 14, 2018

Chibok Girls: Four Years After, Tears Still Flow–Report

Since the abduction of 219 schoolgirls on April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram militants at the Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok, Rachael has been living on medical advice and daily prescriptions for anti-depressants, which she must strictly maintain as a matter of life and death.

The dreadful news of her daughter’s abduction was a deadly blow to her. Since then, she has never gone to bed without taking her sleeping pills. Whenever she risked skipping it, the grief of losing her daughter, Rose, would grip her. Stricken by the trauma of losing her husband Daniel Abana, to the bullets of the militants in 2009 and the abduction of Rose by the same group, Rachael has barely managed to pull herself through life.

At a time, she was placed under the strict care of psychiatrists at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri, to save her from going insane.

From April 1 this year, however, the daily sleeping pill was reduced to half, apparently due to the doctor’s satisfaction with her gradual improvement.

Of the 276 girls abducted, 57 fell off the abductors’ vehicles or escaped from their enclave in the forest, leaving 219 out of who three including Salome Pogu were rescued by security agents while two batches of 21 and 83 were negotiated for release by the federal government.This brings to the total to 107 out of the 219, leaving 112 still with the militants. Today in Chibok therefore, some are still in grief while others are celebrating.

But parents on both sides have decided to pray to God and appeal to government and anyone concerned to help in the rescue of the remaining 112. They have chosen to emphasize grief over celebration, considering the sharp contrast between their case and that of their Dapchi counterparts whose daughters were all released just weeks after abduction by the militants.

Four years after, the agrarian Kibaku community of Chibok has largely picked up its pieces and rebuilt itself, with the return of social and economic activities. The reconstruction of the famous GGSS by the Presidential Committee for North-East Initiative (PCNI) is progressing.

The community seems to have gradually plastered the deep wounds inflicted on it by the militants with a high degree of social and economic activities restored over the past four years. But the wound has not healed as a result of the uncertainty over the 112.

“I am still battling with severe grief to the point that I have to take sleeping pills every night to be able to sleep since the day she (Rose) was abducted, the pills are on prescription by doctors at the State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri,” Rachael Daniel said.

“If I don’t take the pill every night I cannot sleep,” she said, “At a time, due to the double tragedy of losing my husband who was killed by Boko Haram in 2009, and my abducted daughter, I was getting insane and I had to be rushed to the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Maiduguri for treatment.”

She recalled that when she first heard of the abduction of Rose, she fainted.

“Since that day, I was warned by doctors against sitting alone for a long time, I dare not stay lonely for 30 minutes, if I do so I begin to think of my daughter, I then begin to shed tears and I immediately begin to get mentally ill. I always have to go mingling with others. I have been praying fervently for the return of my daughter.” She said Salome Pogu, who was rescued months ago told her that Rose was still alive, but she could not say whether she was married to an insurgent or not.

“We are in intense agony, we may be feigning calmness and composure but inwardly, we are in grief, no water can douse the flames of the agony in our hearts, this agony will surge when we gather to remind ourselves of the abduction.”

Rachael said the release of the 110 Dapchi schoolgirls just weeks after their abduction plunged the Chibok parents deeper into despair.

“When we heard of the release of the 110 Dapchi schoolgirls just weeks after their abduction we wept deeply over the diminishing hope of the release of our own daughters.

“We then first travelled to Dapchi to congratulate the Dachi parents, then we proceeded from there to Otta in Ogun State to see former president Olusegun Obasanjo to plead with him to intercede for us with the government.

“He sympathized with us and pledged to report our plea to government, he even paid for our flight tickets,” she said.

Rachael, who now lives as an IDP in Maiduguri, said she struggles to feed herself and three children – Joel, Yohanna and Audu.

“I started in Maiduguri by operating a small provision shop, not long after, I ran out of capital, later, I secured employment with the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA) as a street sweeper on a monthly salary of N10, 000. My sons take to the streets, doing any menial they find to help in the upkeep of the home,” she said.

Yana Galam is the women leader of the Abducted Chibok Girls’ Movement for Rescue. Her daughter, Rifkatu, is still with the insurgents.

“We are still traumatized,” she said, “We are still aggrieved that four years after their abduction, we have not seen our daughters, whenever the date comes round, I get more aggrieved that my daughter is still in captivity.”

She pleaded with the government to speed up action for the release of the remaining 112.

Rifkatu Ayyuba, 55, is the mother of Saratu Ayyuba, who is among the freed schoolgirls.
“I was so aggrieved when I heard of the abduction of Saratu that I contracted various ailments,” she said.

“I was overwhelmed by joy when I received the news of her release among the set of 83, we sang and danced in front of our house in jubilation, that was when Mama ( Yana Galan) called me on phone and told me to speak to my daughter and Naomi Adamu. We exchanged greetings and I was highly elated to hear the voice of my daughter once again.

“When we went to Abuja and I came face-to-face with Saratu, we embraced each other while I was shedding tears, but my daughter was consoling me, telling me to stop weeping, she was even wiping my tears, she said she knew that I never imagined to see her again.

“Then she asked after her father, but when she later saw him emaciated, she broke into tears, asking what could have happened to him,” Rifkatu said.

“Now that she is at the American University of Nigeria, Yola (AUN. All the released girls are currently studying there), we speak daily on phone, I am told that she studies hard, I have been advising her to live in peace with her seniors, and she always promises to heed my advice,” she said.

“The contrast between the cases of Chibok and Dapchi has plunged us deeper into grief,” Butu Yaga, a retired civil servant, said.

“There is a big problem here because we cannot fathom any justification for the discrimination between the two cases. How is it that more than half of the girls of Chibok abducted four years ago have still not been released, but all the girls of Dapchi abducted were released within weeks?” he queried, stressing, “Chibok is still aggrieved.”

“You can see, normal life has picked up, even the GGSS is being rebuilt, although nobody goes there because it is cordoned off by security agents, but we are still not normal, with 112 daughters still in the captivity,” Yaga said.

“The government is very happy that GGSS Chibok is being rebuilt, and it is advancing fast,” Comrade Musa Inuwa Kubo, the Borno State Commissioner of Education, said.

“As you are aware, the contract cost was N750 million, the contract was awarded to the Nigerian Army Corps of Engineers.

“During the previous government, the contract was awarded to Save the Schools Initiative, they could not handle it satisfactorily so the Muhammadu Buhari administration re-awarded it to the Nigerian Army Corps of Engineers through the Presidential Standing Committee for North-East Initiative, with the president being emphatic on the completion of the project,” the commissioner said.

“I cannot tell you when exactly it will be completed and students of the school who have been shared among some schools in the state, will go back there but hopefully, by the next academic session, they should resume there,” he said.