#BBOGCountdownToMay29 -Week 1: 19 to 25 February 2015
Sunday 26 April 2015
Today is 377 days since our 219 #ChibokGirls out of the 276 originally abducted from their school in Borno state have remained missing. Our Movement has commenced another monitoring initiative anchored on recent declarations of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
We therefore wish to notify the Federal Government and the public that #BringBackOurGirls movement has today launched a monitoring initiative to be known as the #BBOGCountDownToMay29. Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) had on April 14 which marked the the first year commemoration of the abduction of our girls assured the public in his media briefing that our missing 219 Chibok schoolgirls, and others held by the insurgents will be rescued by our military. He assured that as the military invades Sambisa Forest and conquers Boko Haram, our girls among other victims will be rescued on or before the handover of government to a new administration on May 29.
The NSA holds one of the most prominent positions in Nigeria’s war against terror. He acts as the President’s coordinator of the inter-agency mechanism to bring together all the operational establishments involved in the counterinsurgency war. He therefore has firsthand access to sensitive high-level intelligence, briefings and research findings on national security matters. Recognizing with profound regret previous assurances from the nation’s military and security leadership, our Movement nonetheless has decided that the NSA could not have made the recent statement without empirical anchors that support his optimism and assurance.
Over the past one year, our movement has kept faith with hope that our girls will be swiftly rescued. We continue with the strong hope by holding the National Security Advisor to his promise by launching this citizens monitoring tool to enable us to actively follow and track developments as reported by verifiable media sources on the latest rescue mission publicly announced. The #BBOGCountdownToMay29 is therefore a vigilance tool which places a searchlight on the counterinsurgency/rescue operations as conveyed by the NSA. We shall collate all relevant information, organise, analyse and disseminate the most important information over the five-week period leading to the May 29, 2015. Specifically, our tool will seek to know and report on the following:
A. Are we making progress or not with the operation as expressed; for example, is there evidence that our girls have been located through military intelligence and/or human intelligence?
B . Following from A above, are we closer to having our #ChibokGirls and other abducted citizens retrieved from the stranglehold of the terrorists and returned back or not?
C. Are we weakening/destroying the strength and base of the enemies?
In the next five weeks leading to May 29, we shall be producing weekly reports that would include but not limited to:
I. All efforts by our military and the Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF), most especially in and around the theatre of war, Sambisa Forest
II. All Boko Haram activities
III. All news relating to our #ChibokGirls, their families; and so forth
We will ensure to provide statements at the end every week cycle, on Sundays within this timeframe. As usual we shall be providing key news briefs of the week, our observations, comments, analyses, and concerns:
We recall President Jonathan had on 20 March 2015 stated that the Federal Government was not certain of the whereabouts of our 219 Chibok girls; although “he suspected” that they might be in Sambisa forest.
We assert that by the assured and specific statement of April14, 2015 by the NSA the tentativeness of the President’s assurance on the rescue of our girls nearly one month later has given way to exactitude. For this therefore , we demand full accountability by the National Security Advisor. This is because, we do not want this declaration to join one of the many contradictions that have bedevilled the communication by Government on the counterinsurgency operation.
B. Week 1 news briefs and matters arising
1. Nigerian forces were reported to have indeed invaded Sambisa Forest “Boko Haram’s last known stronghold”. With Chadian and Cameroonian forces on the alert and ready to move in to strengthen the invasion.
2. The Defence spokesperson said one Abu Mojahid, a “top Boko Haram terrorist commander” was killed among terrorists killed in an encounter with Nigerian troops.
We demand for as much facts on the casualty suffered by the terrorists as feasible. We also encourage more information on the “top terrorist commander”.
3. Boko Haram regrouped in Sambisa Forest, also renamed itself “Islamic State West Africa”.
We had expressed concern and asked during the #BBOGCountdownTo6Weeks if in reclaiming the territories, the terrorists were being routed and decimated once and for all or they were being allowed to retreat in order to regroup?
The Boko Haram renaming should send clear signals to the rest of the country and West African countries of its significance that not the northeast presently is at risk.
4. Nigerian troops “retreat” from Sambisa Forest due to land mines.
It is curious that a reconnaissance mission was carried out according to the NSA yet our troops were not aware of the landmines. Second, it would be recalled that it was reported in the media on 3 March 2014 that Cameroon had received training from the US military, and equipment from Russian to detect and destroy landmines. We find it curious that these couldn’t be used in penetrating Sambisa Forest but our troops were forced to “retreat”.
5. Chadian troops rescue forty-three Boko Haram child soldiers.
6. Parents of abducted Chibok schoolgirls accuse the Vice Principal of complicity in the abduction.
This is not news as there have accusations and counteraccusations as well as conspiracy theories surrounding the abduction in the last one year. For now we advise that caution be exercised. The focus should be to have our girls back, first and foremost. After then we shall recommend a full inquiry into the entire abduction saga.
7. The military says Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s whereabouts are unknown.
Again, it would be recalled that on 4 March 2014, during the six-week counterinsurgency effort, the Chadian President, Idriss Deby said that he knew where Shekau was and warned him to surrender before being captured. Two days later, he openly accused Nigeria of complicity in facilitating his escape from capture by Chadian troops from Dikwa. The circumstances of this accusation of Nigeria stalling the Chadian troops have never been made clear up to date.
We are concerned as to how Shekau has succeeded in “going off the radar” despite the Chief of Air Staff and the NSA’s assurances earlier stated?
8. Boko Haram takes Marte (a previously retaken community from Boko Haram during the six-week counterinsurgency) from Nigerian troops.
C. Our expectations
1. We are extremely worried that the public is not being told the whole truth of efforts to rescue our girls. We therefore ask that as part of the recent efforts, the NSA should ensure that the Military and Federal Government presents the Nigerian public; especially the parents of our ChibokGirls with the Truth; the absolute Truth and nothing but the Truth on the real situation.
2. We want the answer to our main concern and key issue: WHERE ARE OUR CHIBOK GIRLS? We demand evidence that our authorities are beyond the usual statements; factually working to both locate and rescue our 219 girls. We want the NSA to commence a weekly update on progress being made by the rescue operation since his April 14, 2015 declaration.
3. The most heartwarming news of the week under review was the announcement by the Kano State Government that it has established a Boarding School for vulnerable children from Borno state who were orphaned by Boko Haram. Such exemplary gesture by the Governor should be lauded and emulated by other people in our society. Our advocacy is founded on the maxim that “all children are OUR children.” We urge more public spirited individuals and organizations to demonstrate similar kindness to vulnerable people of the North East.
We wish to see a similar proactive response by the Governor of Borno who has primary responsibility to ensure that out-of-school-children-syndrome does not worsen in his state. We therefore demand that Governor Kashim Shettima immediately makes alternative schooling arrangements for several Borno schoolchildren who have been out of school for more than two years since security deteriorated in his state.
April 30, 2015, marks one year of our Movement’s daily advocacy for the rescue and safe return of our missing Chibok girls, (and an end to the insurgency) through our street protests and signature “Daily Sit Outs at the Unity Fountain. We have planned a public lecture themed: “Chibok Girls: Crying to Be Rescued” to be delivered by His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.
This commemorative lecture shall hold at 10.00 AM at the ThisDay Dome, with a live broadcast on Arise TV. All are invited.
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls
Hadiza Bala Usman