It is a sad day indeed when an outside entity seems more concerned with the happenings in a place than the people who are meant to be leaders or for that matter the people who are meant to stand as the conscience for said place. Unfortunately, this is the reality that is painted for us as global watch dog, Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday questioning the Nigerian government on actions taken regarding a mass kidnap which it said occurred last year.
The group flayed the Nigerian government, asking that steps be taken to secure the release of about 400 women and children inclusive of around 300 elementary school children who were abducted by terrorist group, Boko Haram. The mass kidnap occurred in Damasak, Borno State about a year ago and is according to Human Rights Watch, the largest documented school abduction by Boko Haram militants. They mention that it is unclear if the Nigerian government had made any serious effort to secure their release and stated that it had drawn far less public attention than the other widely condemned abduction of 276 school girls from the government secondary school in Chibok in April 2014. About 219 of the Chibok girls still of course remain unaccounted for.
Now this apparently is the mass kidnap story that both the government and the national media, failed to make us aware of. According to the report, Boko Haram militia attacked Damasak in November 2014 and occupied Zanna Mobarti Primary School, capturing about 300 schoolchildren. In the months following, they worked out of the school as a military base and brought scores of other women and children in as captives. The women were separated from the children and the male children were kept apart from the female, the captives were then forced to spend months studying the Koran. With the approach of heavily armed troops from Chad and Niger to Damasak in March 2015, the Boko Haram fighters retreated from the town, taking scores of the captives with them.
The report states that when the first reports began to filter out of the remote northeastern town, the Nigerian government denied the happenstance of any mass kidnap and the denial went unchallenged seeing the town was too dangerous for journalists to visit. The report sites quotes from victims of the long staged attacks, some of whom had not seen their children since the sad occurrence.
Again, we say it is a sad day if all that is contained in that report is true. What would the Nigerian government gain by an unconfirmed denial? Where are this children now, one;and in the case of the remaining Chibok girls, two; years in? These are the questions that a weary mind grapples with to provide more than an adequate benefit of doubt to this claim. One thing from the Human Rights Watch report however rings undeniably true, which we will just quote here;
“The Nigerian government has an obligation under domestic law as well as under international human rights law to take measures to protect its citizens from Boko Haram’s serious human rights abuses. The government has a corresponding responsibility to take effective steps to secure the release of the people Boko Haram has abducted from Damasak.”