Home-coming of Chibok 21: Matters arising


Shakespeare Macbeth says “It is not the deed that matters but the aftermath….”
With the release of the 21 abducted Chibok School Girls, there was a chain of reactions. Some were good, some thought-provoking, and the rest outright mischief.
The emergence of the girls from nowhere beats the Nigerian press and individuals as the nation was taken by surprise. Indeed, a moment of twin tears for the parents of the girls in particular and the nation in general.
While Abuja and Borno went agog in jubilation, the town of Chibok in Borno state was beset with cautious optimism as the parents of the abducted 276 girls waited in pain and joy to have a list of the 21 freed girls and know who the lucky parents were. It was the moment the sad memories of April 14 and 15, 2014 night kidnap of the innocent girls came flashing.
The release of the 21 Chibok school girls has become one of our past, which informed the future. However, the event provoked reactions both positive and negative. For example, while the generality of Nigerians commended the Federal Government for the success recorded, there were some mischief makers who tried to sell dummy to some members of the public that the entire scenario was stage-managed.
However, as I ponder, my mind flashed back to a similar event that occurred immediately after the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014. After the kidnap, there was a story in a newspaper quoting a security source alleging that the Borno State government might have arranged for the abduction of the girls to embarrass the military, justify the failure of the emergency rule and work against possible extension.
This dummy was allegedly sold to President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration that was said to have cashed into the make – believe.

government should be wary of hawks in the on-going negotiation to… care should be taken to ensure that we do not concede to the point of making the insurgents stronger

Uba Group

Thus, for three weeks running, from the first day of the abduction of the girls, aspersions and innuendos were cast on the Borno State Government as the first suspect having the full knowledge of the whereabouts of the victims. The climax came when the first lady, Patience Jonathan, who was at the period summoning Federal and Borno State officials for interrogation in Abuja, was quoted as saying “Borno State Government must bring out the girls”.
The Borno State Government vehemently denied the allegation and was later absolved of any complicity by the Brigadier General Sambo Committee. But the damage had been done. Instead of taking immediate steps to rescue the abducted girls from the onset, the last administration was busy trading blame while the abducted girls were being taken farther.
Apart from the vicious grandstanding of the mischief makers from the abduction of the girls in 2014 to post release of 21 of the abducted in October 2016, the utterances of two serving Senators recently with regards the released abductees is, to say the least, embarrassing.
First, was Senator Sani Shehu who, while commenting on the freed girls, revealed that he started the process for their freedom years back when he approached some countries including Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and others. According to him Switzerland responded positively as well the International Red Cross committee to participate in the negotiation for the release of the girls with the Boko Haram Sect. Sani said that due to the non – chalant attitude of Jonathan’s administration, the projected was abandoned. However, report had it that the Swiss government has denied such involvement.
Related to this is the comment by Senator Ali Ndume on the floor of the Senate where he told his colleagues how he met the released girls and what their leader told him. Senator Ndume who hailed from the Southern Borno Senatorial zone, the location of Chibok town said Gloria, their leader, implored him to impress it on the Air Force when they go on bombing mission that they should be extra vigilant as their colleagues were always on ground.
Senator Ndume similarly commended the international Red Cross Committee and the Swiss government on their assistance towards releasing the 21 abducted girls.
Without equivocation, the utterances of the two Senators have serious implications, more so in the on-going negotiation on the release of the remaining girls. No nation or even group wants to be publicly identified in negotiation of this nature that is carried out in utmost secrecy and confidence. Besides, the message through Ndume to the Air force is not for public consumption. By his announcement of this on the floor of Senate, he has by implication exposed the remaining girls in captivity to more danger as they could be used henceforth as human shield by the insurgents in the event of attack. As Senators, wisdom and maturity should be the hallmark in their speech and action.
In conclusion, while the Federal government should be wary of hawks in the on-going negotiation to free more of the girls, care should be taken to ensure that we do not concede to The Point of making the insurgents stronger to cause further havoc.

Victor Izekor, a journalist and public affairs commentator writes from Maiduguri at victor_ izekor@the pointing.com