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Five major abductions of Nigerian girls from school since Chibok

Barely a week ago, some bandits attacked an off-campus hostel in Sabon Gida village, Bungudu LGA of Zamfara State, where they abducted over 20 female students.

The Joint Task Force of Operation Hadarin Daji on the same Friday that the girls were abducted rescued six of them and freed another seven female students on Monday this week.

According to Zagazola Makama, a counter-insurgency expert in the Lake Chad region, the seven students were rescued alongside three male workers of Gupran Engineering Services Ltd.

The abduction of schoolgirls by bandits and terrorists from their school isn’t new in Nigeria; it dates back to the popular Chibok abduction when, in April 2014, the world’s attention turned to Nigeria as news broke of a horrifying incident that shook the nation and garnered international outrage—the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.

This tragic event not only exposed the ruthless tactics of the extremist group Boko Haram, but it also ignited a global movement advocating for the safe return of the Chibok girls.

Since the Chibok kidnapping in 2014, there have been several instances of abductions of girls in Nigeria. Some of the notable incidents include:

19-year-old Amina Ali was found with her four month old baby and a man she said is her husband two years after she was kidnapped by Boko Haram alongside 275 other schoolgirl’s preparing for exams in Chibok

Chibok abduction
On the night of April 14, 2014, armed militants believed to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group stormed the school in Chibok and forcibly abducted 275 young girls, aged between 16 and 18, from their dormitories.

The world watched in horror as distraught parents and devastated communities grappled with the reality of their daughters being taken away. It was a brutal and calculated act that sent shockwaves across Nigeria and beyond.

The audaciousness of the Chibok abduction galvanized global attention. #BringBackOurGirls, a social media campaign, quickly gained momentum, drawing support from celebrities, politicians, and activists around the world.

Advocates, including, former education minister Dr. Oby Ezekweseili; and social media activist Aisha Yesufu, rallied together, demanding immediate action to rescue the kidnapped girls and bring their captors to justice.

The Nigerian government, under immense pressure, vowed to do everything in its power to secure the release of the Chibok girls. And, despite the challenges, some of the Chibok girls managed to escape their captors. Their accounts provided invaluable insights into the harsh conditions they endured, including forced marriages, physical abuse, and the constant threat of violence.

These courageous survivors painted a vivid picture of the atrocities committed by Boko Haram.

Despite some of the rescue missions, however, some girls are still in captivity of the terrorists.

Dapchi kidnapping (2018)

Govt Girls Science & Tech College, Dapchi

On the evening of February 19, 2018, armed militants, also believed to be members of the extremist group Boko Haram, attacked the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state.

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The militants arrived in trucks, wearing military uniforms, which initially led some of the students to believe they were soldiers there to protect them.

The attackers overpowered the school’s security personnel and began rounding up the students. They forced 110 schoolgirls, aged between 11 and 19, into the vehicles and then left the town.

In a surprising turn of events, on March 21, 2018, about a month after their abduction, the militants returned the Dapchi girls to the outskirts of the town. They warned the community not to let the girls attend Western education again.

Tragically, during the ordeal, five of the abducted girls lost their lives. It was reported then that, Leah Sharibu, who was then 14 years old, was not released along with the others because she refused to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam, as demanded by the abductors.

Leah Sharibu

The government initially faced criticisms for its handling of the incident, as there were conflicting reports about the circumstances surrounding the release of the girls. Some reports suggested that a ransom was paid or negotiations took place with the abductors, but these claims were officially denied.

While some of the girls regained freedom, Leah Sharibu is still in custody.
A few days ago, there were unconfirmed reports that Leah, now a mother-of-two, left the man who first forcefully married her, Abdulrahman, and got married to another ISWAP commander in the Lake Chad area named Ali Abdallah.

Zamfara schoolgirls kidnapping (2021)
The Zamfara schoolgirls’ kidnapping of 2021 took place on February 26, 2021, in Jangebe, a town in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

As in other incidents, the terrorists overpowered the security personnel, broke into the school, and forcefully abducted approximately 279 schoolgirls. The attackers then fled the scene with the abducted girls.

Negotiations between the Zamfara State government, led by the then-governor of the state, Bello Matawalle, and the abductors began shortly after the incident. The process was facilitated by traditional leaders and intermediaries familiar with the bandits.

On March 2, 2021, less than a week after the abduction, the schoolgirls were released and reunited with their families in a staged handover ceremony.

Abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State

Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, 2021
On the night of March 11, 2021, gunmen invaded the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State,  abducting 39 students comprising 23 females and 16 males.

Shortly after the abduction, the Kaduna State government, along with security agencies, launched a search-and-rescue operation to locate and free the abducted students.

Negotiations between the abductors and the government were reported to have taken place. The exact details of any potential ransom payment or other concessions have not been officially confirmed.

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On May 5, 2021, after approximately 55 days in captivity, 10 of the abducted students were released. On May 8, 2021, another batch of 21 students was released, leaving 8 students still in captivity.

Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State

Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State

Unlike other abductions in 2021 that took place at night, the abduction at Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State, in the early hours of February 17, 2021, armed gunmen attacked the school located in Rafi Local Government Area.

The assailants abducted 42 people, including 27 students, three staff members, and 12 members of their families who were residing in the school quarters.

Immediately after the abduction, security agencies, including the military, police, and local vigilante groups, launched a search-and-rescue operation to locate and free the abducted individuals.

Negotiations between the abductors and the government were reported to have taken place. The exact details of any ransom payment or other concessions was not officially confirmed.

On February 27, 2021, after approximately 10 days in captivity, 38 of the abducted individuals were released. This included 24 students, six staff members, and eight family members.

Like others, at no time was all abducted students fully rescued after every attack.

Afon community abduction, April 19, 2021

Armed bandits kidnapped an unspecified number of girls from the Afon community in Ogun State. The exact number of abductees and their status after the incident is not widely reported.

It’s important to note that these are just some of the more prominent incidents, and there have been numerous smaller-scale abductions and kidnappings throughout Nigeria during this period, often carried out by various criminal groups, including Boko Haram, armed bandits, and other criminal elements.

Please keep in mind that the situation in Nigeria can change rapidly, and it’s recommended to consult up-to-date and reliable news sources for the most recent information.

Gracie Brown
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