Nigerians marched through the streets on April 30, 2014 demanding accelerated government action in the release of more than 200 girls abducted by jihadist group Boko Haram.
A few weeks ago, armed men abducted the girls, who are between 15 and 18 years old, from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, about 130 kilometres west of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria. Some have reportedly been forced into marriage with their abductors.
The angst over the horrid abduction and the seeming lack of firm commitment to secure their release has resulted in citizen action. Twitter users are mobilizing and tweeting in support of the protests across the nation, using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
— SporTAINment.. (@PoojaBlog) April 30, 2014
Oby Ezekwesili spoke of a mother's agony:
— oby ezekwesili (@obyezeks) April 29, 2014
Soliat Tobi bolaji tweeted a photo of the victims’ families:
— Soliat Tobi bolaji (@tobysunlight) April 27, 2014
HH Mustapha Abu Bakr argued for compassion:
— HH Mustapha Abu Bakr (@Mustyblax) April 30, 2014
HBD Abiola Olatunji and others urged people to care:
— HBD Abiola Olatunji (@BabajideFadoju) April 30, 2014
— Godman Akinlabi (@PGeeman) April 30, 201
— ᴹʸ ᶰᵃᵐᵉ ᶥˢ (@WilsonIsTalking) April 30, 2014
Nkem Ifejika tweeted a photo of protesters:
— Nkem Ifejika (@nkemifejika) April 30, 2014
Onye Nkuzi blamed the government:
This govt has itself to blame – its communication (or lack of it) during these trying times implies that: It simply does not care.
— Onye Nkuzi (@cchukudebelu) April 30, 2014
Some showed solidarity:
— Adetola Adekunle (@mrpirazzy) April 30, 2014
Prior to the protests, Nigerian bloggers have been venting their anguish using fiction as their tool of protest. For instance, Yougeecash in “For Chibok 1“:
I was sitting peacefully in class listening to the teacher that day when we heard them come. Several guns went off in the air and I was really frightened. The men came into our classroom and kept shooting in the air. Everyone was screaming and crying, including our teacher. I was very scared. Mallam Haruna is a tough man and always has a scary look. It is because of his look that I am afraid of Mathematics. So if Mallam Haruna, my tough Mathematics teacher was scared and crying, that meant things were really bad. My English teacher would say such a situation is a ‘dire’ situation. I always prayed I would never experience one.
The men ordered all the girls to line up and march out of the class. Mallam Haruna tried to beg them to leave us alone but one of the men shot him. I think he died immediately. There was a lot of blood and I was really very scared.
They bundled us into their trucks. So many of us. I could see Amira and Khadija my two best friends. They were put in a separate truck and they looked frightened too. I cried so much, my eyes hurt. I wondered where they were taking us.
Chika Ezeanya paints a chilling tale in this short story, “Deep Inside Sambisa Forest“:
Several loud gunshots came from the vicinity of the school gate, followed by piercing cries from my schoolmates. Boko Haram. It was time to say our last prayers. I took what I intended to be one last look at the bed of my best friend and neighbour. Her eyes locked into mine and reminded me of our pact, our agreement of less than a week earlier. Our mates in the dormitory were screaming and running in search of a place to hide from death; under the beds, behind the wardrobe, inside the huge plastic bucket that stored water. I saw the youngest girl among us hide inside a Corn Flakes box and cover herself with clothes, shoes and exercise books. The box was slightly torn at the side and I could see the wooliness of her hair. Two JS II girls hit the iron burglary proof of a window with the rickety wooden chair we use to play hot seat on birthdays. We had always felt protected by the burglary bars, that day it imprisoned us. About seven brave students hit at the locked door with an iron bed. Our matron usually locked the doors and took the keys away at 9:00 p.m. Only a gunshot would have brought that door down. My best friend and I ran towards each other, to hold ourselves and await the bullet or the knife, or both.
Generals and students of warfare will tell you that fighting an unseen enemy is the hardest battle. But freeing abducted girls from the clutches of the insurgents is one that must be done with deft and circumspection. The lives of the girls are at stake here and all avenues must be explored to bring them back. This is a moment for rational thoughts over the irrational sense and brazen ideologies that give insurgents the conviction that they are fighting a just war.
Let us not forget that an outright military operation puts the girls at risk, as they can be used as human shields, this has happened before in Baga when insurgents threw mortars from amongst non-combatants.
Abdulkadir concludes thus with this advice to the government of Nigeria:
The federal government of Nigeria must explore all avenues that will lead to the release of the girls of Chibok. The Nigerian nation has woken up from the slumber of tragedy fatigue it was slipping into. Parents and the entire world are asking bring back the girls safely. This is the test before, Nigeria.