On the night of April 14th, more than 100 armed Boko Haram militants masquerading as members of the Nigerian Army abducted 276 students from the Government Girls Secondary School after setting several buildings ablaze and shooting their way past the compound’s security staff. The abduction lasted approximately six hours as the kidnappers hand-selected from the more than 300 students, loading abductees into the backs of military-grade trucks to be driven toward the Nigeria-Cameroon border, deep into the Sambisa Forest.
Immediately following the mass-abduction, the men of Chibok Village made their way along with dozens of vigilante youths registered with the local contingent of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJFT)—a proxy militia of rag-tag “soldiers”—into the Sambisa as part of a frenzied search party that ultimately initiated what would become an international effort to #BringBackOurGirls.
In the early days of the abduction, great confusion surrounded the number of girls abducted, as well as their identities. While exact numbers are still unknown, estimates place more than 300 girls as having been kidnapped that fateful night. Within the immediate days after the mass-abduction, estimates allege 50 girls successfully escaped their captors and were returned to Chibok, [placing current estimates of the number of girls still missing at over 270.
On May 5th, 180 of those abducted were identified after a list detailing the identities and religious affiliations of the girls that was being compiled by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the State Security Service (SSS) was leaked by a Chibok pastor. That list released to the public an incredible statistic that, in many ways, clarified the then-questionable motive for the abduction: 90% of the 180 girls identified are professed Christians.
Many members of the international community have pledged their support to find and restore those abducted to their loved ones. The U.S. alone has sent an intelligence support task force to assist the Nigerian military in addition to 80 military personnel to conduct predator drone operations over the Sambisa in search of the girls’ and their captors’ hideouts. Many experts remain skeptical, however, as to the capability of the Nigerian military to locate and successfully return the more than 240 girls still in captivity.
While reports alleged U.S. forces located some of those abducted in a number of small camps spread throughout the Sambisa Forest, the relevance of those sightings remain in question as many now believe the girls are being held captive on the shores of Lake Chad.
Political pressure to rescue the girls continues to escalate in Nigeria, even as international pressure has faded amongst a myriad of prominent international issues.
April 14, 2014 240 Predominantly Christian Schoolgirls Are Mass-abducted by Boko Haram
The Government Girls Secondary School in the village of Chibok reopens for exams. Armed men in military uniform storm into the school at night under the guise of ushering the girls to safety. After congregating in the courtyard, those gathered are handpicked for transport in the militants military-grade trucks.
April 16, 2014 Nigerian Military Claims Most of the Girls Are Freed — They Were Wrong
The government of Borno state announces a reward of $300,000 for information leading to the rescue of the school girls. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan calls a National Security Council meeting in Abuja to review security measures to determine the best way forward. The Nigerian military issues a statement that almost all of the girls had been freed. The next day, the military retracted their claim.
April 17, 2014 The Nigerian Military Retracts Its Claim
In an awkward correction, the Nigerian military clarifies that some 50 or so girls escaped Boko Haram’s clutches. However, confusion lingers over just how many girls remain in captivity.
April 24, 2014 #BringBackOurGirls Becomes the World’s Hashtag
Family of the missing girls, Nigerian activists and Chibok residents take to social media to call attention to the mass-abduction with hopes the attention would spur international action. Ibrahim M. Abdullahi, a lawyer from Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, sends the first tweet employing the now-universal hashtag.
April 30, 2012 Million Woman March
The call for a “Million Woman March” by activists and concerned citizens held in Abuja, garners a crowd of 500 in red garb with banners demanding the girls’ swift and safe return. Participants march to the Nigerian National Assembly and deliver a letter complaining the government was “not doing enough.”
May 2, 2014 The Government of Nigeria Establishes A Committee, the United States Pledges Its Support
President Goodluck Jonathan announces a “fact-finding committee” to help in the search for the girls. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces that Washington will “do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and hold the perpetrators to justice.”
May 5, 2014 Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for the Mass-abduction, Pledges to Sell the Girls “On the Market”
In a propaganda video released to the public, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, claims responsible for the mass-kidnapping and declares his intention to keep the girls as “slaves with us.” Speculation that the girls have been dispersed to several locations in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger grows.
May 12, 2014 Shekau Conditions the Girls’ Safe Return On the Release of All Imprisoned Boko Haram Militants
Boko Haram releases a second propaganda video displaying those abducted dressed in traditional Islamic hijabs, to which Shekau declares “they have now been converted.” The video confirms the girls’ forceful conversion to Islam.
May 17, 2014 World leaders meet over Boko Haram in Paris
United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and French President, François Hollande are among attendees of a summit in Paris on the growing threat of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. William Hague offered Nigeria assistance in the form of military advisors, but has insisted that the country must take its security responsibility seriously in the face of ongoing attacks from Boko Haram.
May 27, 2014 Nigerian Military Claims Knowledge of Girls’ Whereabouts
Nigeria’s military says it knows where the girls are being held by Boko Haram; but, that an attempt to rescue them could place the girls in jeopardy. President Goodluck Jonathan receives a third Boko Haram propaganda video, in which some of those abducted are displayed pleading for the president to “spare” their lives by conducting a prisoner swap.
July 23-24, 2014 NGOs Hold Rallies Across America to #BringBackOurGirls
Rallies to mark the girls’ 100th day in captivity take place in Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles on July 23—24 in support of their immediate and unconditional release and return.
August 09, 2014 U.S. Planes Searching for Nigeria’s Abducted Schoolgirls Claim to Sight Them
U.S. aircraft flying over remote areas in Northeast Nigeria and beyond spot several disseparate groups of girls in the Sambisa forest, some of whom may be those abducted.
August 12, 2014 Nigerian Elders Threaten to “Sink” President’s Reelection Bid
Nigeria’s Northern Elders Forum (NEF) threaten to “sink” the Jonathan administration should it fail to return more than 240 predominantly Christian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram by the upcoming national elections, scheduled for February of next year.
August 14, 2014 Female Suicide Bombings in Nigeria Raise Questions and Concerns
A spat of highly ineffective female suicide bombings in Kano, Nigeria raise concerns that Boko Haram is forcing some of the more than 240 girls it kidnapped in April to sacrifice their lives in attempts to take the lives of others in the name of jihad.
September 09, 2014 ICC Meets with Survivors of Boko Haram’s Heinous Schoolgirl Abductions
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, and Advocacy Director, Isaac Six, meet with several girls from Chibok who successfully escape captivity under Boko Haram. The event, hosted by the Jubilee Campaign, brings together many of the girl’s most steadfast advocates in Washington, including ICC, to both meet the escaped girls and to discuss future action to ensure the safe location, return and reintegration of those still being held captive.
Who Is Boko Haram?
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” continues to pursue its goal of carving out a separate Islamic state from Nigeria’s northern regions to establish its ultra-conservative interpretation of Sharia law with brutal vengeance. The insurgency, a U.S.-designated FTO, often targets schools, government institutions and religious minorities—mostly Christians—as part of a broader strategy to create a purely Islamic society in northern Nigeria. In 2014 alone, it’s estimated more than 1,500 people have been murdered by Boko Haram, many of whom are known Christians whose communities have been pillaged and churches set ablaze.
09/09/2014 FEATURED ARTICLE ICC Meets With Survivors of Boko Haram’s Heinous Schoolgirl Abduction
07/23/2014 NEWS RELEASE Rallies across America to #BringBackOurGirls
07/23/2014 FEATURED ARTICLE 100 Days in the Hands of Terrorists
05/22/2014 FEATURED ARTICLE When Boko Haram Knocks, The Incredible Story of Deborah Peter
05/14/2014 NEWS RELEASE Human Rights and Faith-Based Organizations Hold Prayer Vigil, Public Witness
05/06/2014 NEWS RELEASE Not Enough: Boko Haram Conducts Follow-Up Kidnapping to Mass-Abduction
04/17/2014 NEWS RELEASE Appalling Escalation in Violence across Nigeria Leading Up to Easter Sunday Celebration
For Interviews, contact Cameron Thomas, Regional Manager for Africa:
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