Nigerians took to the streets Thursday to demand the government do more to rescue scores of girls abducted by militants more than two weeks ago.
Militants seized about 230 girls in the dead of the night at a high school in the nation’s far northeast, a hotbed for Islamist group Boko Haram. Armed men herded the girls out of bed and forced them into trucks on April 16 in the town of Chibok. The convoy of trucks then disappeared into the dense forest bordering Cameroon.
Roughly 200 girls are still missing, although the authorities and parents differ on the number. Nigerians have rallied for days to criticize the government’s handling of the rescue efforts. Hundreds wept and chanted “bring back our girls” during protests in the capital of Abuja on Wednesday. A day later, protesters gathered in Lagos.
Shortly after the abductions last month, frustrated Chibok residents went into the forest in motorbikes to search for the girls. During their nine-hour trek, they never saw a single soldier in the forest where authorities believe the militants took the girls, said Enoch Mark, whose daughter and two nieces were among the kidnapped.
“A total of 230 parents registered the names of their daughters who were missing on the day of the kidnap,” said Asabe Kwambura, principal of the Government Girls Secondary School. “From my records, 43 girls have so far escaped on their own from their kidnappers. We still have 187 girls missing.”
It has been widely reported that 234 Borno school girls were abducted by Boko Haram. However, new reports state that at least 276 were abducted – which means the figure could be even more than this.
Lawal Tanko, the state Police Commissioner, revealed that the new figure of 276 is probably still not accurate, as the exact amount of girls missing could only be ascertained when more parents, who were yet to know the whereabouts of the daughters, file a complaint.
Parents have been advised to come forward with the names and identities of their missing daughters so as to aid rescue efforts. He announced phone lines that have been made available for well meaning Nigerians to call if they have any useful information that would help facilitate the rescue efforts.
Do your part, spread the word through social media using hashtag bringbackourgirls.
Numbers provided are: +2348075897377; +23481777309; and +2348036121490