#BBOGMonthlyMonitoringInitiative: Month 11: 14 November to 13 December 2016
Month 11: 14 November to 13 December 2016
Wednesday 14 December 2016
Today is Day 975 of our #ChibokGirls’ abduction, Day 565 under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch, and Day 960 of consistent #BringBackOurGirls advocacy.
This is our eleventh #BBOGMonthlyMonitoringInitiativereport, and the last for the year 2016.
B. Matters Arising from Last Month’s Report
In the month of October, it was reported that an army commanding officer along with 83 of his men had disappeared. At first the army high-command tried playing it down, but later had to admit to the fact. The chief of army staff, it was reported, had soon given up on them, and said so. In our last report, we admonished the army chief against this. In the last month, the Army authorities were reported to have reached out to 46 (of 84) families informing them of the fate of their loved ones, and requested each next of kin to forward their bank details for remittance of the accrued payments of their loved ones. We welcome that all accruals of salaries and allowances will be remitted to the affected families.
We commend the Army for taking the right measure . It is a departure from the usual practice of hiding the truth about the state of our troops, whether missing or killed in action. Many times we have painfully seen the families of our soldiers in combat kept in limbo on the state of their being. Even worse are cases of families that received the news of the demise or disappearance of their loved ones in combat from third parties on social media.
Our Movement had many times in the past, raised our voice to denounce such uncaring and unprofessional approach in handling casualties of war. We therefore urge the military to do everything possible to account for the other 38 warriors still unaccounted for and to reach out to their families immediately.
C. Where are our #ChibokGirls?
It is now 975 days since our Chibok Girls were abducted from their school. Only 23 out of 219 (or 11%) of them are back. Where are our remaining 196 (or 89%) #ChibokGirls that are still missing? At the return of the 21 girls on 13 October, a confident Minister of Information as well as Spokesperson of the Presidency informed the public that 83 more of our girls would be retrieved from Boko Haram. It is worrisome that 8 weeks after there is ominous silence from the Federal Government on the whereabouts of our 196 remaining Chibok Girls. The visible inertia and lethargy of Government in failing to provide any updates to anxious families and concerned public is condemnable considering how high it raised hopes that their return was imminent two months ago. We demand an immediate status update on the negotiation effort to retrieve the rest of our Chibok girls.
D. What is the State of Our Returned Girls?
Since last August when Amina Ali was exuberantly showcased by the Federal Government on all news platforms, no update has been offered the public on the state of her wellbeing. Close on the heels of Amina Ali’s return was the release of our 21 Chibok girls by their abductors. The elaborate welcome events that spanned a number of days were the last the public heard of and new of the status of the young women.
So, we ask, “Where is Amina Ali Nkeki?” Where are our other 21 girls? “How are they faring?” “Is Amina Ali and her 21 friends receiving and responding to the right psychosocial program of recovery?” ” Are they all in touch with their parents and or guardians?”.
We ask these questions because the Federal Government has neither conveyed that it designed any effective rehabilitation, reintegration, and resettlement program nor conveyed that it implementing any.
The public would recall that earlier in March, two females were arrested by the Cameroonian security authorities and that one of them identified herself as a Chibok girl. It later turned out that this information was not accurate according to the Federal Government. The last we however heard on that episode was that on 29 March, the Cameroonian authorities handed them over to the Nigerian military. Since the last 8 months, no information whatsoever was offered the public on the status of these two victims of abduction. Our Movement cares for their wellbeing as much as we do for our Chibok girls. So, we ask the Federal Government, “Where are Maryam Alhaji Wakeel and Aishatu Usman?”
E. ‘What Are We Asking For? The Truth, Nothing But the Truth!’
There are emerging and very troubling contradictions and inconsistencies that seem to suggest that the military as well as our President, Muhammadu Buhari need to be entirely truthful about the state of the counterinsurgency war in the northeast. The military had announced on 28 October that the war had been won, was over, and that the nation could celebrate. However, this statement was coming at the same times as more troops including commanding officers, have been either being killed or missing in more numbers than ever since we started our daily monitor of the war thirty months ago. How do we reconcile the fact that the same military high command that announced the war was a few weeks ago, only as recently as 12 December revised its declaration when it stated that Boko Haram will be defeated this December.
On the part of the President, the public has heard him constantly state that Boko Haram holds no territory in Nigeria. However, our President has consistently failed to identify to the public, such former terrorist -occupied communities in the northeast, where there is now absolute safety, peace and tranquility and where internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned home to resume normal life.
Our Movement is aware of many indigenes of communities being proclaimed safe who angrily contest the position of President Muhammadu Buhari that they can return home. This is absolutely worrisome. In the last two weeks, hundreds of citizens have again lost their lives in the North East. These are not ‘soft targets’; these are human beings with dreams and aspirations.
We demand for the Truth from the President and the Military on the status of the war. The Truth sets free. The Truth will reinvigorate our counter-insurgency war more effectively than any attempt at propaganda and false declaration of triumph.
F. The Humanitarian Tragedy of IDPs in the Northeast
I. The coordinator of HIV/AIDS programmes in Borno announced that 5 000 IDPs are living with HIV. Other confirmed reports say hundreds of thousands of people — particularly children — are dying of hunger and starvation. The UN warned that next year, 5.1 million people would be likely to face serious food shortages if more aid does not arrive the North East.
To our utter consternation, President Muhammadu Buhari denied these accurate on-the-ground assessments and reports, claiming they were ‘exaggerated’. He further accused international relief and humanitarian organisations as ‘hyping’ the situation in order to raise more funds. Our Movement is shocked at this defensiveness of President Muhammadu Buhari as it could be the real reason that progress is not being made to deal effectively with the monumental scale tragedy that is worsening daily in the IDP camps in the North East. This is because our findings is that, not only do the reports reflect a fairly accurate picture of situation in the northeast, we believe that they may in fact be understated.
The Federal Government has never once produced a publicly available assessment of its own regarding the conditions in the North East and the Internally Displaced People. No media has ever reported any Federal Government specifics on its assessments if the humanitarian tragedy that citizens are suffering. In the absence of such empirically generated counterfactuals, the Federal Government lacks the pedestal to contest the figures of the various independent bodies working in the North East that President Buhari recently disparaged. We find his public disavowal of the efforts of these humanitarian groups which have shown such strong support to our country and people extremely uncharitable.
Our considered advice to the President and the Federal Government is to show forcefulness in tackling the endemic corruption and gross ineptitude that pervade much of its humanitarian and relief effort. It should work with the law enforcement agencies to bring to book several of its officials who are involved in all kinds of criminal activities related to the matters of IDPs, refugees and rebuilding of the North East.
Imagine the national embarrassment revealed by the Nigerian Senate that a presidential body that reports to the Presidency with a mandate to cater to the welfare of IDPs, cannot account for billions of Naira that it had spent? Several of millions of Naira were allegedly spent on cutting grass, on organizing trainings, and such other spurious activities even as as several IDPs–children and women especially–suffer and die daily. This is only one known case of several others cases that may exist. There is an urgent need for the right actions by the Federal Government to save our citizens and to punish the crooked officials.
II. We urge the UN, its partner agencies and civil society groups to not be cowered into silence. They must continue to publicize any negligence on the part of our governments in discharging its humanitarian responsibilities to citizens.
III. Men of the army and the police were allegedly arrested for raping and sexually exploiting female IDPs in their camps. So far, nothing further has been reported on actions taken since the reported arrests. Such cases of sexual and related violence against the weak and vulnerable must not be allowed to end like that. All offenders must face the consequences of their actions, and the full force of the law.
G. We heartily welcome the recent passage of a Bipartisan Legislation by the US Congress to Tackle Boko Haram.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3833/S. 1632 a legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-Florida), who is a leading #BringBackOurGirls advocate, and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to help combat Boko Haram.
The legislation directs the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defence to jointly develop a five-year strategy to aid the Nigerian government; members of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), and international partners who help to counter the threat posed by the insurgents. The effort also would address the humanitarian and education crises the terrorists have created in the area.
We welcome the new legislation, applaud Congressman Wilson for her tenacity, and thank the US House for passing this critical piece of legislation. We urge the outgoing US president Barack Obama to kindly ensure to assent to the bill before leaving.
We again reiterate that until and unless the Federal Government of Nigeria takes on full leadership and responsibility for defeating Boko Haram such supportive efforts of partner countries would not be sufficient. Our call is therefore to the Federal Government to ensure that it takes full advantage of this new law as part of its tools for ending the scourge of terrorism in our country.
Sadly and very unfortunately, Day 1000 of the abduction of our girls is now only 25 days from today (8 January 2017). In 5 days we shall commence a 20-day countdown to Day 1000. We urge everyone to join the countdown. We also call on all friends of our Chibok girls all over the world to kindly consider holding events to mark Day 1 000 of the abduction, whether all our girls return before then or not. We the Abuja Family of #BringBackOurGirls shall resume some street activities to remind our Federal Government of the promise it made to rescue our Chibok girls and all other abducted citizens of Nigeria.
We end our address by saluting the courage and valour of our men and women in uniform and volunteers and their families who sacrifice to keep all of us safe. May your labour never be in vain.
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls