As Israeli Hostages Return, Where Are Nigerian Chibok Girls?

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Chibok girls
Chibok girls

Nearly 10 years ago, 276 mostly Christian female students, aged 16 to 18, were kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State of Nigeria. Some died; some escaped; but, over 100 of those girls are still missing today.

The 2014 kidnapped Chibok girls are only a tiny percentage of the total number of women and girls abducted by the Boko Haram sect. Amnesty International estimated in 2015 that no fewer than 2,000 women and girls had been abducted by the group since 2014 and that many of those had been forced into sexual slavery – and completely forgotten by successive Nigerian government.

Comparatively, 48 days ago, just 48 days ago, about 250 hostages were taken by Hamas terrorist group following a most barbaric October 7 surprise attack on Israel. The first batch of those hostages were released today and many more will be released in the coming days.

So, 10 long years since April 14 of 2014 and over 100 Nigerian Chibok girls are still missing. But barely 48 days after they were kidnapped, 24 Israeli hostages have been released by terrorist Hamas. What has Israel done right that Nigeria had failed to do?

To start with, the hashtag for the release of Israeli hostages is #BringThemHomeNow, while the hashtag for the release of the Nigerian Chibok girls was #BringBackOurGirls. The difference I see in the hashtags is that the Israeli hashtag includes what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the urgency of “now”. The Nigerian hashtag did not include any such sense of urgency.

Another difference is that the then Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, on whose watch the Chibok girls were kidnapped, a man whose only record of uniformed national service was perhaps the NYSC, dressed in military fatigue but sat his rump on his swagger stick as he begged the terrorists and offered them amnesty.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, a man with extensive record of military service in Israeli Defense Force, never dressed in military fatigue in the 48 days since the October 7 attack. Instead, he wore black pants and shirt, in mourning, even as he launched, arguably, the most brutal military counteroffensive the world has seen in the 21st century.

So, while Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and his successors adopted a posture and attitude of appeasement of Boko Haram, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu went to war with an avowed mission of eliminating the last Hamas terrorist on earth. The result is that in barely 48 days after they were kidnapped and taken hostage by Hamas terrorists, the first batch of Israeli hostages are back with their families, and many more are scheduled to be released and returned to their families in the coming days and weeks. But 10 years after they were abducted from their high school dorms by Boko Haram terrorists, over 100 Chibok Nigerian teenage girls are still missing. Obviously, hashtag bring back our girls has not worked as effectively as Israel’s hashtag bring them home now. So, hashtag bring back our girls NOW!

#BringBackOurGirlsNOW

Dr. Vitus Ozoke is a lawyer, a civil and human rights activist, and a public commentator based in the United States.

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