Over 100 Nigerian Girls Still Missing on Eighth Anniversary of Boko Haram Kidnapping

Chibok Girls
KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images

Amnesty International reported Wednesday that 109 women remain unaccounted for eight years after the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 mostly Christian schoolgirls from a state-run secondary school in northeastern Nigeria’s Chibok village.

“On 14 April 2014, 276 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram from a secondary school in Chibok. … Some of the girls managed to escape, while others were released following campaigning efforts and government negotiations. Despite efforts to free all the pupils, 109 of the girls remain in captivity, and at least 16 have been killed,” Amnesty International reported on April 13.

Imagining the possible fates met by the 109 women still missing after their abduction in Chibok eight years ago, Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper wrote the following on April 14:

It is believed that, among the horrors they had faced in the hands of the violent criminals, many of them had been married off to terrorists while others may have been sold into slavery, as the slain former Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed in one of his videos.

Alarmingly, in our view, everything about the Chibok girls has gone quiet and there is no indication that government detectives are still making efforts towards finding and rescuing them from their present dire circumstances.

Britain’s Independent newspaper reported on April 14 that many parents of the still missing Chibok girls believe Nigeria’s federal government has “lost interest in their plight.”

Boko Haram jihadists stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on April 14, 2014. The terrorists forcibly seized 276 mostly Christian schoolgirls aged 12-17 from the dormitories overnight and loaded the adolescents onto trucks outside the building. Boko Haram then drove the girls to the organization’s historic hideout and stronghold in the nearby Sambisa Forest. Some of the abductees escaped during the journey to Sambisa Forest. Others managed to slip away from their captors in the ensuing weeks, months, and even years.

Boko Haram established itself in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State — which contains both Chibok and Sambisa Forest — in about 2009. The group has waged a jihadist insurgency across northeastern Nigeria since then with the stated goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in West Africa. To this end, Boko Haram has perpetrated mass abductions and massacres across not only northeastern Nigeria but also the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.

The term “Boko Haram” translates loosely to “Western education is forbidden.” The Islamic terror organization has specifically targeted schools over the past decade as part of an effort to eradicate Western culture from Nigeria and the surrounding region. Boko Haram voiced this aim when it vowed to murder any escaped Chibok girls should they return to school. Several Chibok girls bravely defied the death threat and pursued a Western education through a Nigerian state-backed program at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in the eastern city of Yola in recent years.

Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama joined a Chibok-related Twitter campaign in May 2014 by sharing a photo of herself holding a placard that read, “#BringBackOurGirls.” The campaign ostensibly aimed to help locate and secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, though it largely failed to produce tangible results.

Michelle Obama’s promotion of the Chibok-related hashtag sparked a backlash against the administration of her husband, then U.S. President Barack Obama, on Twitter and inspired the counter hashtag “#WeCantBringBackOurDead.”

“Many are now dispatching somber photographs of men and women holding signs that implore the Obama administration to cease its drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries,” the Washington Post observed on May 15, 2014.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed Boko Haram was defeated in December 2015, though this proved to be false. Boko Haram continues to carry out deadly attacks and kidnappings across Nigeria today and has reportedly grown stronger by expanding its territory in recent months.


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