240 girls still held captive by Boko Haram as public protests diminish

Insight

It’s been nine months since Boko Haram invaded a school in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria, kidnapping 279 girls. Today, more than 200 are still missing. CCTV Africa’s Deji Badmus examined whether they are any closer to being freed in this report from Lagos, Nigeria.

240 girls still held captive by Boko Haram as public protests diminish

It's been nine months since Boko Haram invaded a school in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria, kidnapping 279 girls. Today, more than 200 are still missing. CCTV Africa's Deji Badmus examined whether they are any closer to being freed in this report from Lagos, Nigeria.

They girls were sleeping in their dormitory, when the Islamist rebels struck, overpowering troops guarding their school. Some were lucky to escape, but most were taken captive. The Nigerian government estimates Boko Haram is still holding about 240 girls.

The incident brought instant global attention to Boko Haram, a five-year-old insurgency and triggered a deluge of foreign assistance to help find the girls. But within weeks, their cause fell from the public sphere.

Just two months ago, there were almost daily street protests across Nigeria to press the government to bring the girls home, but it those protests have died down.

“It’s sad because what is for sure is that the girls will definitely not be in any way in the form that they were taken. We know some would probably be pregnant, and some would probably have had kids. But as a people and as a country, the case of the Chibok girls continue to represent our attitude towards loss of life and the value of life of a Nigerian,” Yemi Adamolekun, one the protesters and a Bring Back Our Girls campaigner said.

The government has said that it knows where the girls are, but does not want to storm the area and endanger their lives.

“It’s better if we get these girls back under whatever circumstances. If they have any problem, we can resolve it. If they have any psychological issue, we can employ experts to help us. If they have issue of deprivation, we can assist. We can give support to their mother but we don’t want to bring back body bags,” senior presidential aide Doyin Okupe said.

The government’s line does not square with many, including Adamolekun.

“The truth of the matter is that government has not been very good about communicating and not very good about engaging, because everybody that says ‘bring back our girls’ is seen as an opposition or the enemy of the state or wants to make the president look bad,” she said.

Boko Haram has continued to intensify its terror campaign, attacking and holding territories. The latest town to fall under its control is the fishing community of Baga along the border with Chad. The attack has been described as the sect’s deadliest to date, and Amnesty International has estimated the number of deaths at 2,000, while the Nigerian government has said there have only been 150 deaths.

The situation prompted a warning from the head of Nigeria’s electoral body that crucial elections, scheduled for February, may not hold in the northeast where three states are under a military state of emergency.


Jonah Blank of RAND Corp. discusses Boko Haram attacks

CCTV America interviewed Jonah Blank, an anthropologist and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation about the Boko Haram attacks.

Jonah Blank of RAND Corp. discusses Boko Haram attacks

CCTV America interviewed Jonah Blank, an anthropologist and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation about the Boko Haram attacks.