Nigeria: Boko Haram schoolgirl kidnappings, one year on

Published April 14th, 2015 - 08:22 GMT

A year ago today, Jonah Bulama took his 13-year-old daughter Amina to her boarding school as he did every Monday. Unbeknown to him that fateful day – 14 April 2014 – would be his last sight of her.

Hours later, Boko Haram jihadists stormed the school, loaded his daughter and more than 200 classmates on to buses and drove them into the bush. Some 50 escaped on the night of the attack, but other than a brief appearance in a propaganda film, most of them have not been seen since.

“Every day we look at a photo of Amina and are bitter that we’re alive but can’t do anything to help our daughter,” Mr Bulama told The Independent. “We can’t do anything but hope.” 

His pain is exacerbated by the haunting words of the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, who later vowed that the girls would be married to fighters or sold as slaves. “God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said in a chilling message, adding that anyone who hoped for their release was “daydreaming”.

This grim sequence of events will be remembered across Nigeria today and has taken a heavy toll on the parents of the missing Chibok girls and the psyche of Nigeria at large. Seventeen parents of the victims have died since the abduction a year ago, while Boko Haram’s attacks upon surrounding schools have forced many to withdraw their children from education altogether. That has proved a particularly effective fear tactic by a group whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden”.

By Will McBain


Copyright © Independent Print Limited

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