Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapping

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On February 19, 2018, 5:30pm, one hundred and ten (110) schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group from the Government Girls' Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, located in Bulabulin, Yunusari Local Government area of Yobe State, in the northeast part of Nigeria.[1][2][3] The Federal Government of Nigeria has deployed the Nigerian Airforce and other security agencies to search for the missing schoolgirls and to hopefully enable their return.[4] The governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam blamed the Nigerian soldiers for having removed a military checkpoint from the town. Dapchi lies approximately 275 km (170 miles) northwest of Chibok, where over 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.[5]

Controversies[edit]

Military withdrawal shortly before kidnapping[edit]

Ibrahim Geidam, the governor of Yobe State, has complained about the withdrawal of army troops from Dapchi allegedly just hours before the abduction, without informing either the local police or the state government in advance. Initially the army remained silent regarding this complaint.[6] Days later the army made seemingly contradictory claims attempting to explain its withdrawal. The army claimed that it had withdrawn its forces from the town due to the absence of evidence of any Boko Haram activity in the general vicinity, and that at the time, it had formally handed over Dapchi's security to the police prior to its withdrawal.[7] In an army intelligence document obtained by the Sahara-Reporters group dated Feb. 6, 2018 an army general expressed concern regarding a possible imminent Boko Haram attack in adjacent Damaturu, 60 miles away, thus calling into question the army's earlier assertion that it had good reason to believe that Boko Haram had left the general vicinity.[6] The Yobe state police commissioner strongly denied the army's claim that his department had been formally informed by the army of the army's withdrawal, and no proof of any such police notification was provided by the army.[7]

Uncertainty regarding number of abductees[edit]

Initially the Yobe governor stated that 94 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the school and that 48 had returned to their parents and that only 46 are still missing.[8] While, Bashir Manzo, the chairman of the Forum of Missing Dapchi Schoolgirls Parents said that 105 girls were missing.[9] The police commissioner of Yobe, Abdulmaliki Sunmonu said that 111 schoolgirls were missing.[10]

Comparison to Chibok kidnapping[edit]

As in the recent Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping, so too in the Dapchi kidnapping the Nigerian government took days to respond at all, and then responded with several assurances that the kidnappers would be promptly apprehended, and that all of the girls would soon be returned safely to their homes. In the Chibok event, four years later still approximately a third of the abductees remained in the hands of Boko Haram, with those girls who have been released, for the most part having been released via ransom payments, and with only one low-level kidnapper having been apprehended and standing trial to date (Mar. 5, 2018).[11][12][13] Meanwhile, Boko Haram continues to enrich itself via the millions of dollars thus far paid to it by the Nigerian government in the form of ransom payments.[14]

Reactions[edit]

The Nigerian Bar Association urged the Federal Government to suspend boarding schools in Northeast Nigeria.[15] Parents and villagers of Dapchi narrated how the kidnapping occurred and urged the Nigerian government to help them bring back their girls unharmed.[16]

Release[edit]

On 21 March 2018 the Federal government of Nigeria announced that Boko Haram terrorists had returned 106 of the kidnapped children, including 104 girls who went to school, one girl who did not and a boy. Leah Sharibu wasn't released and her parents told Agence France-Presse that the group would only release her if she converted to Islam.[17] The group dropped them off in the town in nine vehicles. Information minister Lai Mohammed stated that the release was unconditional. The fighters after releasing the girls warned their parents not to put them in school again.[17]

Leah Sharibu[edit]

Leah Sharibu, a Christian schoolgirl aged fourteen at the time of her capture, is the only remaining Dapichi schoolgirl still held hostage.[18] After the others were released, some told The Guardian newspaper that Leah had previously escaped from her abductors but been caught and brought back by a nomad Fulani family.[19] Leah was reportedly not released along with the other children, because she refused to convert to Islam.[20]

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, she has subsequently been given to a Boko Haram fighter as a slave.[21] In August 2018 an audio was released of Leah pleading for her freedom.[22] In October 2018 her parents revealed that Boko Haram had threatened to kill her later that month, should the government not meet their demands.[23]

In February 2019 social media reports circulated about her death, but were dismissed by the government as politically motivated disinformation.[20][24]

On May 14, 2019, Leah celebrated her 16th Birthday in Boko Haram custody[25]. She has spent over 400 days in captivity. Over 5000 Muslims gathered to pray for the release of Leah on Thursday, May 16, 2019[26].

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sahara, Reporters (2 March 2018). "Abducted Dapchi Girls in 'Boko Haram town' in Yobe, Claims Rep". Sahara Reporters Inc. Sahara Reporters Inc. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  2. ^ Aljazeera, News (25 February 2018). "110 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing after attack: Minister". Aljazeera Media Network. Aljazeera Media Network. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  3. ^ Searcey, Dionne (21 February 2018). "Boko Haram Storms Girls' School in Nigeria, Renewing Fears". The New York Times Company. The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  4. ^ Onuah, Felix (25 February 2018). "Nigeria says 110 girls unaccounted for after Boko Haram attack". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  5. ^ News, BBC (26 February 2018). "Nigeria's Dapchi school abduction: Father's plea to find daughter". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b Military Knew Of Boko Haram's Plan To Carry Out Mass Abductions In Yobe, But Withdrew Troops Sahara-Reporters. Feb. 27, 2018. Downloaded Mar. 5, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Dapchi: Let the Blame Game Stop This Day Live. Mar 4, 2018. Downloaded Mar. 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Adekunle, Aliyu (22 February 2018). "111 Yobe schoolgirls not accounted for – Yobe police boss". Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria. Vanguard Newspaper. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  9. ^ Abdulkareem, Haruna (24 February 2018). "Dapchi parents release names of 105 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram(FULL LIST)". Premium Times Nigeria. Premium Times. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  10. ^ Vanguard, Newspapers (28 February 2018). "There's still conflicting report on number of abducted Dapchi girls, their identity – FG". Vanguard Media Limited. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  11. ^ First person convicted for Nigeria's Boko Haram schoolgirl kidnap World News. By Alexis Akwagyiram and Robin Pomeroy. Feb. 14, 2018. Downloaded Mar. 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Boko Haram Has Kidnapped Dozens of Schoolgirls, Again... Time Magazine. By Tara John. Feb. 26, 2018. Downloaded Mar. 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Two bags of cash for Boko Haram Wall Street Journal. By Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw. Dec. 24, 2017. Downloaded Mar. 5, 2018.
  14. ^ The fate of the Chibok girls BBC. By Alastair Leithead and Stephanie Hegarty. May 19, 2017. Downloaded Mar. 5, 2018.
  15. ^ Nnochiri, Ikechukwu; Nwabughiogu, Levinus (28 February 2018). "Dapchi: FG sets up probe into Boko Haram school kidnapping". Vanguard Media Limited. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  16. ^ Abdulkareem, Haruna (23 February 2018). "How Boko Haram attack, kidnap of Dapchi schoolgirls occurred – Residents, School staff". Premium Times Nigeria. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Dapchi girls: Freed Nigerian girls tell of kidnap ordeal". March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  18. ^ Oduah, Chika (15 May 2018). "'She refused to convert to Islam,' 85 days on, kidnapped schoolgirl Leah Sharibu remains in captivity". CNN. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Schoolgirls seized by Boko Haram tell of Christian friend's escape bid". March 30, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Nigerian elections 2019: The spread of false information". BBC News. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  21. ^ Ochab, Ewelina (23 December 2018). "Where Is Leah This Christmas?". Forbes. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  22. ^ Adebayo, Bukola (28 August 2018). "Lone Dapchi schoolgirl in Boko Haram captivity begs for her freedom". CNN. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  23. ^ Adebayo, Bukola (4 October 2018). "'Our daughter is facing a death sentence,' parents of Leah Sharibu cry out". CNN. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  24. ^ "FG speaks on news of Leah Sharibu's death". Oak TV Newstrack. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Leah Sharibu spends another birthday in Boko Haram custody". Oak TV Newstrack. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  26. ^ "5000 Muslims to pray for the release of Leah Sharibu, others". Oak TV Newstrack. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.