As today marks one year since over 200 girls were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, by the Boko Haram terror sect, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group would conclude its one week of global action on the clamour for the girls’ rescue from captivity.
According to the group, the week of global action is meant to raise awareness and also demand expeditious global campaign to accelerate all efforts being coordinated by the Nigerian government and her allies towards their rescue.
Of 276 girls originally abducted a year ago, 57 escaped from the terrorists while 219 of them are still missing.
The one week of global action began last week Wednesday with a media briefing at Unity Fountain in Abuja, where the plans for the commemoration were unveiled.
The next day, the group held a walkathon and repeated the same exercise on Friday, but this time tied the red ribbon from Unity Fountain all the way up Shehu Shagari Way, up to the Police Force Headquarters and back.
Also, that same day, special prayers were held at Unity Fountain in Abuja, and a sermon with the topic, “The role of girl child education in Islam”, was preached.
The group on Saturday had a social media network awareness especially on Twitter where they succeeded in having a tweethaton.
The next day, the group held a special service in churches across Nigeria and the world, where the prayer request was for a miracle that would bring the girls back alive.
Although the special commemorative service billed to hold yesterday was postponed for a later date, the #ChibokGirls monument was unveiled, after which a vigil and candlelight procession was held.
Another highlight of the commemoration was the plan to select 219 Chibok ambassadors who would today carry the message for the rescue of the girls.
According to Co-convener, BBOG and former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, “Their peers that signed up and were selected as our #ChibokGirlsAmbassadors will be the ones carrying the message for their rescue.”
The #ChibokGirls Ambassadors, who are part of the Global Schoolgirl March, are expected to stage a march today from the Unity Fountain to the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
Also to mark the anniversary of the missing girls, it was gathered that the famous Empire State Building in New York would be lit today in purple and red in honour of the BBOG campaign.
The organisers explained that while the red colour stands for the BBOG’s chosen colour, the purple stands for the campaign to end violence against women.
The BBOG on Monday also embarked on a silent protest over the lack of knowledge about the true status of the girls.
The protesters in their normal red attires used red cellotape to seal up their mouths to show their displeasure with the federal government’s silence on the whereabouts or true status of the girls.
One of the leaders of the group, Dr. Emmanuel Shehu, confirmed that as part of activities lined up to commemorate the disappearance of the girls, over 150 teenagers named ‘Chibok Girls Ambassadors’ would stage a solidarity rally for the missing schoolgirls.
The rally, according to Shehu, would commence by 10 am today from Unity Fountain to strategic places in Abuja such as the Three Arms Zone, Maitama, Wuse and other places to call attention to the need to rescue the missing girls.
Also showing their support, about 900 Bangladeshi students yesterday stood in solidarity with the BBOG group in Nigeria, creating the hashtag #EndChildMarriage.
In a picture posted on the twitter handle of @WGLBangladesh, it showed girls with cut out papers spelling out ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ at the Tillagaon High School, in Kuluara, Mouivibazar, Bangladesh.
In the same vein, Nobel Peace laureate, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai wrote a letter to the Chibok girls, where she lamented that both the Nigerian government and international community had failed them.
She said: “In my opinion, Nigerian leaders and the international community have not done enough to help you. They must do much more to help secure your release. I am among many people pressuring them to make sure you are freed.
“Nigerian forces are re-gaining territory and protecting more schools. Nigeria’s newly elected president, Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to make securing your freedom a top priority and promised his government will not tolerate violence against women and girls.
“I look forward to the day I can hug each one of you, pray with you and celebrate your freedom with your families. Until then, stay strong and never lose hope. You are my heroes.”
Also in Lagos today, the Women for Peace and Justice group, one of the foremost groups championing the cause of the missing girls, would hold a briefing and a rally to mark the one-year anniversary.
According to information by Temitope Olajiga, the rally will kick off at Falomo roundabout between 6 pm and 8 pm.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has refused to speak on the fate of over 200 girls who were abducted from Government Secondary School (GSS), Chibok, Borno State exactly one year ago by Boko Haram terrorists.
All efforts to get the military authorities to comment on the issue proved abortive as spokespersons for the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) and Nigerian Army shied away from discussing the matter.
It was gathered that the decision not to speak on the missing girls was deliberate in order not to be caught making statements that might require unnecessary retractions or clarifications.
“If I will tell you the truth, the authorities don’t want to speak on this matter because we don’t want to be dragged into its unnecessary controversies,” a military source said.
Already, the source added, there is indication that some of these girls might have been killed in Bama and other places with some likely to be held in Sambisa forest but that is yet to be verified.
The DHQ has on more than one occasion been forced to clarify or retract statements on the Chibok girls.