21 Released Chibok Girls Came With 34 Children — MMF - The People's Voice


Sunday, April 14, 2024

21 Released Chibok Girls Came With 34 Children — MMF

By Our Correspondent

Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF) has said that 10 years after the abduction of 276 girls from Chibok Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, 21 of the affected abductees so far released came with 34 children.

MMF gave this damning report in a release made available to newsmen at the weekend, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the abduction, confirming the devasting sexual violence and coerced marriages the girls endured while in captivity.

Besides, the report hinted that 48 parents of the abducted victims had died since the girls were kidnapped, with widespread psychological trauma for survivors and their families, leading to health issues and barriers to work and education, even as it added that 91 out of the 276 schoolgirls remained unaccounted for.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MMF, Dr Aisha Muhammad-Oyebode, in the virtual presentation of the report, stated that the Foundation, given Nigeria’s kidnapping epidemic showing no signs of showing down, had set out 10 key recommendations that urged the Nigerian government and the international community to collaborate by taking concrete steps to address the underlying drivers of conflict, extremism, and violence against women and girls, among others.

According to her, these include enhanced security measures, community empowerment programmes, psychological support services in danger zones, education initiatives, legal reforms, transparent communication, humanitarian aid and development assistance, women’s empowerment programmes, and early warning systems for security threats.

“In the ten years since the Chibok kidnapping caused global outrage, very little has changed on the ground in Nigeria where kidnapping is still as prevalent, if not worse than a decade ago. 

“As Nigeria’s kidnapping epidemic shows no signs of slowing, we urge the Nigerian authorities and the international community to take concrete steps to address the underlying drivers of conflict, extremism, and violence against women and girls, which include widespread poverty, instability, and a lack of economic opportunities.

“The report found that 91 out of the 276 schoolgirls remain unaccounted for.

“The report also revealed that 21 of the Chibok girls who were released returned with 34 children, serving as a devasting confirmation of the sexual violence and coerced marriages they endured while in captivity,” she said.

Speaking further, Dr Muhammad-Oyebode listed other key findings in the report, saying that in 2014, 57 schoolgirls escaped by jumping off the Boko Haram trucks, while between 2016 and 2023, a total of 128 girls had since been rescued, exchanged in deals with Boko Haram or found in countries, including neighbouring Cameroon after escaping.

She said one of the affected girls to be released opted out of the negotiations at the last minute, choosing to remain with her captors, noting sadly that three of those parents were killed by dreaded Boko Haram in subsequent attacks in 2014, 2016, and 2017, respectively.

The MMF boss, who recalled that Boko Haram abducted over 100 schoolgirls in a town called Dapchi in February 2018, Boko Haram abducted over 100 in a shocking attack that was worryingly similar to the Chibok incident, lamented that several cases of kidnapping and instability persisted, with girls among those most at risk.

She said the Foundation came up with the recommendations in efforts to address the root causes of the kidnapping in the country while urging for international cooperation in bringing about a zero-tolerance policy and ensuring that those who were responsible for the atrocities documented were brought to justice no matter how powerful or well connected they were.

“Legal accountability must be institutionalised and must apply to those who were neglectful in their duty to protect our most vulnerable. The 34 babies born to the Chibok mothers are evidence of egregious atrocities that demand justice. 

“Forced marriage in conflict, declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations in Sierra Leone, was perpetrated against many of the abducted girls both Muslim and Christian compounding their trauma and suffering. The separation from their families, the violation of their rights and the assault on their dignity constitute grave injustices that must not go unpunished,” she said.

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