Chibok: Bring Back Other Girls and Boys
By Yushau A. Shuaib
He hardly grants media chats because of the sensitive nature of his office. When he speaks, it is with bluntness and sincerity delivered with deliberate measurement. He knows that he can be misquoted out of mischief or ignorance.
Sambo Dasuki, the National Security Adviser in the outgoing Jonathan’s administration, had in February 2015 strongly recommended the postponement of the elections for six weeks to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the challenges of untrained ad-hoc election staffs and scanty distribution of voters’ cards. He also insisted that the military could address the insecurity in the North-East by clearing most terrorists’ infested communities within that period.
Within the recommended six-weeks, the voter card distribution rate had increased astronomically from less than 50% to over 75% while the Nigerian military had recovered more than 20 communities from terrorists in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. The elections afterward have been adjudged as free, fair and peaceful.
Similarly in April 14, 2015, Sambo Dasuki accurately predicted what Nigerian military would accomplish before the handover on May 29, 2015. Coincidentally, on the one year anniversary of the abduction of Chibok school girls, Dasuki gave an assurance that the Sambisa Forest would be stormed by the Nigerian troops while the Federal Government was making every effort to ensure that abducted Nigerians would be rescued from captivity from that enclave before the handing-over day. Speaking to PRNigeria, a media agency that distributes press releases on behalf of security agencies, he insisted that government was concerned about the welfare of every single Nigerian not only the Chibok girls, as other innocent Nigerian girls, boys, men and women were abducted by the terrorists and all efforts were being made by security agencies to rescue them.
Today, the Sambisa Forest, the last fortress of the terrorists had been invaded by the military who have so far rescued over 300 captives and destroyed camps and armaments of the terrorists.
However, there are those insisting that without the recovery of Chibok girls, the military campaign should not be hailed. Chibok incident was not the first abduction and not the last by Boko Haram terrorists. Before the advent of Bringbackourgirls movement for the rescue of Chibok girls, boys were burnt to death and slaughtered in various terrorists’ attacks in boarding schools. Others were abducted for conscription. Young captives who were reluctant to join them in their dastardly acts of terrorism were summarily executed.
It is noteworthy that the BringBackOurGirls campaign has drawn global awareness to murderous exploits of terrorists after abducting school girls in Chibok town of Northern Nigeria. The campaign exploded across social media with a strong sense of outrage, catching the attention of global politicians, celebrities and social media fans.
While we clamour for the return of the Chibok girls, we must bemoan the fact that a lot of innocent lives of others citizens have been lost including military and security personnel from different parts of the country. The loss of security personnel in active service have made many families to loss their fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, and even newly wedded grooms who were, in some instance, mercilessly massacred while protecting our nation and its people. We hardly heard any campaign for Bring-Back-our-boys or Bring-Back-the-Corpses of bread winners for decent reburials.
It is unfortunate that we get to the sorry state because some of communities had tolerated the excesses of the terrorists by silently paying ransom after every abduction without reporting to security agencies in the past. In fact some local leaders openly campaigned against the deployment of troops to curb the atrocities until the situation got out of hand.
The military are also careful in their combat offensive in view of the fact that some abducted women are used as human shields, girls as suicide bombers and boys as child soldiers for Boko Haram. It is indeed a delicate situation when troops trained in conventional warfare are suddenly confronted with asymmetrical warfare. Therefore, in such operations, the troops must abide by the excessive rules of engagement policy, including tactical withdrawals to avoid collateral damage to civilians.
It is also rather unfortunate that some foreign powers have denied Nigeria the supply of sophisticated equipment over flimsy excuses of human right abuses. Even those who claimed deployment of specialised experts to search and rescue the Chibok girls not only abandoned Nigeria and the victims to their fate, they never rescue a single abducted girl. Yet they claim the successes of our military offensive was only boosted by foreign mercenaries even after the emergence of pictures and videos of dexterity, sophistication and courage of Nigerian troops in their fight against terror and rescue efforts in freeing abducted people, especially women and children.
It is a pride to Nigeria as a nation that even without ‘Coalition Airstrike’ from powerful countries similar to that being witnessed in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, the Nigerian military has effectively destroyed most of the terrorists training camps while rescuing thousands of abducted victims from captivity.
The Bring Back Our Girls movement, which is instrumental in mobilising citizens and the media through organised rallies against the abductions of Chibok girls, should go further in highlighting the plight of other abducted citizens, internally displaced persons and the ruined communities that require freedom and rehabilitation. It is gratifying to note the assurance of our new President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired military general that “we cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.”
Every life is precious; not only that of Chibok girls but also other girls, boys, women and security personnel that are victims of terrorism.