• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Distinctions between Chibok and Kuriga abductions


Whereas the Chibok Girls abduction in 2014 was the first of its kind in Nigeria, that of Kuriga most recently was not. Unfortunately, Nigeria experienced several abductions under the immediate past regime of Muhammadu Buhari.

The abductions of the Chibok girls and the Kankara students exposed a painful difference in national unity. The Chibok tragedy became entangled in political wrangling, with the then-opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, using it to criticise the government. This politicisation diverted attention from the girls themselves and hampered efforts to secure their release. In stark contrast, the Kankara abduction sparked a wave of national outrage. Nigerians from all walks of life, regardless of political affiliation, condemned the act and rallied behind the students’ safe return. This outpouring of unity presented a powerful message: that the safety of Nigerian children transcends political divides.

The Chibok abduction unfolded under a cloud of missed opportunities. Intelligence reports reportedly warned about the dangers of allowing exams to proceed at the Chibok school. Yet, both Borno State officials and the school’s management allegedly disregarded these warnings. This crucial detail adds a layer of tragedy to the Chibok story, raising the agonising question: could these girls have been saved if those warnings had been heeded? In stark contrast, the Kankara abduction lacked such a reported pre-emptive intelligence failure.

Whereas the then governor of Borno State and currently the vice president of Nigeria, Kashim Shettima, was allegedly aloof about the abduction of the Chibok girls, such was not the case with the Kuriga abduction because the governor of Kaduna State, Uba Sani, collaborated with the federal government in the concerted effort to rescue or release the Kuriga pupils. For the Chibok abduction, reports said that it took about 17 days after the abduction for the then federal government to call the governor of Borno State to confirm the report of the abduction instead of the governor visiting the presidential villa immediately after the abduction to brief the commander-in-chief as tradition and protocol demanded.

Geography placed the Chibok girls in a far more precarious situation than the Kankara pupils. Boko Haram abducted the girls from Borno State, which shares borders with several neighbouring countries. This complex situation made rescue attempts incredibly challenging, as the militants could potentially vanish across international borders. In contrast, the Kankara kidnapping unfolded entirely within Kaduna State, simplifying logistics and potentially easing the path to a swift resolution. The difference in location meant a stark difference in difficulty when it came to bringing these students home.

The kidnappings of the Chibok schoolgirls and the students from Kankara paint a chilling contrast. In Kankara, the Boko Haram captors demanded a hefty ransom—a staggering 40 trillion naira, later reduced to a billion. While the merits of ransom payments are fiercely debated, one wonders if the Chibok girls’ fate might have been different if their abductors had made a similar demand. Perhaps negotiations could have led to their release, even if at a terrible cost. The lingering question a decade later is: could ransom have brought these girls home? The unanswered cries for their safe return only magnify the tragedy of Chibok.

The Chibok girls’ abduction, a horrific event that shocked the world, remains unresolved. It stands out not just for its scale but also for the initial global outcry. Where are the voices that championed their cause? Where are the tireless advocates like Obiageli Ezekwesili and her Bring Back Our Girls movement, the influential figures who spoke out? Has the world forgotten these girls, especially as similar tragedies continue to unfold in Nigeria? Even Michelle Obama, a powerful voice who joined the chorus of concern, seems silent. The enduring hope is that these advocates haven’t abandoned the fight but are strategically regrouping to find new ways to pressure for answers and, most importantly, the safe return of the Chibok girls.

MADUAKO, writes from Owerri via [email protected]