Timeline: How much longer shall we wait before the remaining Chibok girls return home?

Sunday, January 8, 2017, makes it 1,000 days since 276 school girls were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno.

The kidnap led to global outrage as World leaders condemned the act. Many celebrities joined the #BringBackOurGirls ‘movement’ online as they posted pictures and videos, demanding their release. U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama was one of them.

According to Amnesty International it the Nigerian military had four hours’ advance warning of the kidnapping but failed to send reinforcements to protect the school.

It was however, appalling that it took President Jonathan to make any statement on the abduction.

Ever since their kidnap, the Bring Back Our Girls group has been in the forefront of demanding the release and rescue of the girls from the Jonathan administration and the President Buhari administration.

We bring you a timeline of all the activities surrounding their abduction.

April 14, 2014: Just a few hours after the deadly bomb blast that rocked a motor park in Nyanya, Abuja, Boko Haram struck again.

This time, they attacked Southern Borno. Young innocent girls were picked up in the dead of the night from their school while preparing to write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and nothing was heard about them for days.

April 16, 2014:  Then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) condemned the abduction of the girls.

April 21, 2014: Reports filtered in that 53 of the girls escaped from the hands of their captors over the kidnap weekend.

April 30, 2014: Protests demanding greater government action were held in several Nigerian cities as hundreds marched to the National Assembly to demand government and military action against the kidnappers.

May 1, 2014: The protests continued into the second day.

May 2, 2014: The Nigeria Police Force said they were still unclear as to the exact number of students kidnapped.

May 3, 2014: Protests were held in major Western cities including Los Angeles and London.

May 4, 2014: The protests intensified.

May 4, 2014: Then President, Goodluck Jonathan, spoke publicly about the kidnapping for the first time, saying the government was doing everything it could to find the missing girls.

May 5, 2014: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was seen in a video as he claimed responsibility for the kidnap.

He claimed that “Allah instructed me to sell them… I will carry out his instructions.”

May 7, 2014: Britain said it would send a small group of experts to Nigeria to help with the hunt for the schoolgirls.

May 8, 2014: Muhammadu Buhari, now Nigeria’s president condemned the action of Boko Haram, calling them “bigots masquerading as Muslims”.

May 8, 2014: President Jonathan told delegates in Abuja at a meeting of the World Economic Forum that he believed assistance from the US and UK governments would help “resolve this crisis” and “begin the end of terrorism in Nigeria.”

Addressing dignitaries including the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, and the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, Jonathan said, “Thank you for accepting to come even at a time we’re facing attacks by terrorists. Your presence helps us in the war against terror. By God’s grace, we’ll defeat the terrorists. I believe the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria.”

May 9, 2014: Governor Shettima called on all Muslims and Christians to join in “three days of prayers and fasting.

May 9, 2014: Former Boko Haram negotiator, now a Senator, Shehu Sani, stated that the group wanted to swap the abducted girls for its jailed members.

May 10, 2014: The UN Security Council strongly condemned the abduction of the schoolgirls.

May 11, 2014: A hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was created days earlier in Abuja and it began to trend globally on Twitter, spreading the story rapidly internationally, becoming for a time Twitter’s most tweeted hashtag. It attracted 2.3 million tweets as at this day.

May 11, 2014: Kashim Shettima, Borno Governor said the abducted girls were sighted and that they were not taken across the borders of Cameroon or Chad.

May 11, 2014: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered assistance to President Jonathan to help locate the abducted schoolgirls.

“Israel expresses its deep shock at the crime committed against the girls. We are willing to help assist in locating the girls and fighting the terror that is afflicting you,” he said.

May 12, 2014: Boko Haram released a video showing about 130 kidnapped girls, each clad in a hijab and a long Islamic chador, and demanded a prisoner exchange.

May 12, 2014: A prisoner swap deal brokered by a journalist to secure the release of the girls in exchange for 100 Boko Haram prisoners was called off at the last minute on the orders of then President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan called it off after consultations with U.S., Israeli, French and British foreign ministers in Paris, where the consensus was that no deals should be struck with terrorists, and that a solution involving force was required.

May 13, 2014: 16 military personnel from US Africa Command joined the effort to help find the schoolgirls, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

May 22, 2014: The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it was deploying an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and 80 United States Air Force personnel to nearby Chad. Chad was chosen as a base for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights because of its access to northern Nigeria

May 26, 2014: The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh announced that security forces had located the kidnapped girls, but ruled out a forceful rescue attempt for fears of collateral damage.

May 30, 2014: It was reported that a civilian militia in the Baale region of Northeastern Nigeria found two of the kidnapped girls raped, “half-dead,” and tied to a tree. Villagers said the Boko Haram group had left the two girls, and killed four other disobedient girls and buried them. 223 were still missing.

June 26, 2014: It was announced that Levick, a Washington, D.C. public relations firm, had received “a contract worth more than $1.2 million” from the Nigerian government to work on “the international and local media narrative” surrounding the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping.

June 27, 2014: President Goodluck Jonathan declared that his earlier silence on the kidnap was because he did not want to compromise security operations that had to do with their safety.

July 17, 2014: The European Union passed a resolution “calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted schoolgirls.”

October 12, 2014: It was reported that four of the girls had escaped and walked three weeks to freedom in Nigeria. They said they had been held in a camp in Cameroon and raped every day.

January 5, 2015: Daily rallies by Bring Back Our Girls demonstrators at the Unity Fountain in Abuja were continuing, despite police efforts to shut them down.

April 13, 2015: A year after their abduction, hundreds of protesters wore red tapes across their lips as they walked silently through Abuja.

May 29, 2015: During his inaugural speech President Muhammadu Buhari said the nation could not claim to “have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents. [The] government will do all it can to rescue them alive.”

June 12, 2015: Barely two weeks after being sworn in, President Buhari, his wife Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, and the Vice President’s wife Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo met with some mothers of the abducted Chibok girls.

October 1, 2015: The Nigerian Military said it will not be in a hurry to rescue the abducted schoolgirls. The Defence spokesman Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar noted that while it was of utmost concern to the military to rescue the girls, the operation required demanded adequate patience and planning.

December 31, 2015: President Muhammadu Buhari declared his intention to negotiate with Boko Haram militants to secure the release of the schoolgirls.

“If a credible leader of Boko Haram can be established and they tell us where those girls are, we are prepared to negotiate with them, without any precondition,” he said.

April 14, 2016: Boko Haram released a video showing 15 girls who appeared to be some of the kidnapped Chibok girls. The video was apparently taken in December 2015 and the girls seemed to be well fed and not distressed.

May 17, 2016: Amina Ali Nkeki, one of the girls was found along with her baby and Mohammad Hayyatu, a suspected Boko Haram militant who claimed to be her husband, by the vigilante Civilian Joint Task Force group in the Sambisa Forest.

May 19, 2016: Amina met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock villa.

October 13, 2016: Twenty-one of the schoolgirls were freed.

In a statement, Garba Shehu said the release was “the outcome of negotiations between the administration and Islamist militants”.

October 16, 2016: Presidential aide, Garba Shehu stated that the Federal Government was negotiating the release of 83 more of the girls with the ISIL-allied faction of Boko Haram.

October 18, 2016: The chairman of the Chibok Development Association, Pogu Bitrus, claimed that more than 100 of the missing girls apparently did not want to return home because they had either been brainwashed or were fearful of the stigma they will receive.

November 5, 2016: Another girl named Maryam Ali Maiyanga was found and rescued along with her baby by the Nigerian Army.

January 5, 2017: The Nigerian Army recovered another Chibok schoolgirl, Rakiya Abubakar alongside her baby.

As much as we appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government and the military to secure the release of the girls. We are of the opinion that enough needs to be done to ensure their safe return back to their families.

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