Nigeria marks the fourth anniversary of the mass kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls by Daesh-linked Boko Haram terrorists in the northeastern town of Chibok with renewed calls for their release.
People took part in a Friday night vigil in Nigeria’s largest city Lagos, with more events planned for Saturday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, as Nigerian President Muhmmadu Buhari again vowed to the parents of the remaining captive girls that their daughters “will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate” despite their lengthy captivity.
A total of 219 girls were kidnapped from the Government-run Girls Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state in April 2014. 112 of them are still being held after four years. The rest have been found, escaped or released as part of a government deal with the terror group.
The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, announced in a statement that more than 1,000 children had been verified as abducted in northeast Nigeria since 2013, although the actual figure is estimated to be much higher.
In February, Boko Haram-linked militants abducted 112 school girls and a boy from the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state. One hundred and seven were returned a month later.
President Buhari, in his remarks, insisted that the return of so many abducted students from Dapchi and Chibok should give confidence that all hope is not lost” and showed the government was “doing its very best.”
The former military ruler has repeatedly claimed that Boko Haram was virtually defeated despite their persisting terrorist activities.
Buhari further added that “Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks, owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors, whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.”
The Nigerian president, who is seeking re-election next year, said “Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfill our promise of reuniting you with our daughters, and don’t imagine for a moment that we have forgotten about our daughters or that we consider their freedom a lost course.’’