No fewer than 17 of the parents of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls have died due to trauma associated with the abduction.
This is even as Senate President, Bukola Saraki, called for concerted efforts by governments, security agencies, religious and community leaders, to rescue the remaining 112 Chibok girls and the Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, from captivity.
The 276 schoolgirls were abducted in a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, by the Boko Haram Islamist sect on April 14, 2014.
Co-ordinator of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement in Lagos State, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, made the disclosure at the weekend at the 4th anniversary of the abduction with the theme: “Four years too long,” an event marked with Christian and Muslim prayers.
She said though some of the girls had regained freedom, the fact that 112 of the girls were still with Boko Haram was too long.
“While we are not unaware of the efforts made so far by the government of Nigeria in securing the release of 103 girls from captivity, four years is too long and totally unacceptable
“In fact, on May 14, 2017, we were expecting 83 girls. On May 6, only 82 agreed to board the plane to freedom.
“That still haunts me till today. Saraya Paul whose father told me as far back as October 2015, that ‘God has blessed me with eight children and they are all obedient but none has honoured me as much as Saraya.’
“Saraya offered to remain with her captors. We have failed these children and continue to fail their families.”
Muhammed-Oyebode, daughter of the assassinated Head of State, General Muritala Ramat Muhammed, expressed shock that some queried BBOG’s struggle for the release of the abducted girls.
This, she opined was a tragic reflection of the Nigerian society’s desensitization to evil:
“The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls and Dapchi schoolgirls is an attack on the soul of Nigeria.
“The kidnapping of innocent girls from school is totally unacceptable and we demand collective action to fight this monster in Nigeria.
“The rights of children, women and girls must be provided for, protected and promoted as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The prayer session was led by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House Church, Lagos, and Alhaji Tajudeen Adebayo, Imam of Falomo Police Mosque.
Saraki in a statement yesterday by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, said even though four years had elapsed since the sad incident of the Chibok girls’ kidnap, it must not dampen efforts being made to see the girls rescued and reunited with their families and loved ones.
He called on the parents to remain steadfast as the government would never relent in efforts to see their daughters back home safely.
Saraki said: “As a parent, I feel the pains of these unfortunate young girls from Chibok and the latest one – Leah Sharibu – from Dapchi, their parents and the people and governments of Borno and Yobe states over these harrowing experiences.
“However, all hope is not lost. We are all involved in this. Their return will give us joy while their continued stay in captivity will inflict us with perpetual torment of failure.
“This is no time for blame game or passing the buck. We must all gear up and work together to see these girls rescued within the shortest possible time. I believe that the last four years have given us ample time to reflect on the calamity, review our modus operandi – politically and militarily – and resolve to ensure that all Nigerians are adequately protected.
“Let us fine tune the strategies that have won us successes and discard those that have failed us. The goal and focus must be clear – to rescue our girls and all those in forced captivity in any part of the country, and ultimately, to restore our pride as a sovereign entity.
“This is the time for all stakeholders to retool and re-strategise to ensure that all these girls are not only rescued but do all in our power to put a closure to all cases of kidnapping and insurgency in this land.”
The Senate President also urged security agencies to keep people abreast of developments about the issue to avoid the speculations and talks like the one insinuating that many of the girls may have died.