It’s been a quiet seven months since the disappearance of the Chibok school girls, kidnapped from a school in Nigeria by the Jihadist terrorist organization Boko Haram in April 2014. In the last few days, the Nigerian government announced a sudden ceasefire with the Islamist militants agreeing that at least two hundred of the girls, if not all, are safe and will be released within the next few weeks with one final meeting said to be planned.
Over the last few months the incident raised massive concerns and was brought to global attention with the likes of Michelle Obama, William Hague and Cara Delevingne backing the campaign and demonstrations being led worldwide, as well as generating mass social media support with the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. However, it is questionable how much attention the Nigerian government didn’t pay to the case and have been largely criticized for the lack of support and determination in succeeding to free the 223 school girls and why an agreement has only just been made seven months subsequent.
In Chibok and elsewhere, it was believed to a large extent that the government had quite simply closed the book on the affair with rumours that the girls had already been sold as “bush wives” or alternatively raped and impregnated by members of Boko Haram. This is hardly a surprising alternative as since 2010 Boko Haram (of whom oppose the westernisation of Nigeria) have targeted schools, churches, federal government colleges and military barracks resulting in over four thousand deaths and additionally, since the kidnapping of the girls in April 2014 the militants have carried out at least nine major gun and bomb attacks furthering the death toll to over five thousand citizens.
In response to the criticism received, the government stated that there were more important priorities to be discussed than that of an “unconfirmed abduction”, such as the direct threat to the Economic Forum – an event crucial to attracting foreign investment. A presidential aide stated “Our security people had a choice between dealing with a direct threat to the economic forum, which was a showpiece event for our country’s future, or what was at the time entirely unconfirmed reports of an abduction. Maybe our response to the kidnapping could have been better, but people need to realise that we had a lot to deal with at that particular time, and they prioritised the clear and present threat”.
Speaking to the BBC, Nigerian government spokesman Mike Omeri said “Boko Haram would not be given territory under the ceasefire agreement – and that the government would not reveal what concessions it would make.”