In April 2014, the sleepy town of Chibok located in Borno state were in for a rude awakening. Inexplicably, 276 girls, girls who were preparing for end of term exams, girls whose biggest worries were probably grades, were kidnapped and spirited away.
What followed was an outpouring of grief from the entire nation. Families had been ripped apart, hearts had been broken and parents were inconsolable. In what was a small win, 56 of the girls somehow made it back after being able to escape with tales of unfathomable horror. The other abductees have not been seen to this day regardless of numerous efforts and social media campaigns that spread around the entire world.
It has now been revealed that the US and UK governments spotted at least 80 of the abducted girls.
Dr Andrew Pocock, the former British high commissioner to Nigeria, told the Sunday Times that a large group of the missing girls were spotted by British and American surveillance officials shortly after their disappearance, but experts felt nothing could be done.
Dr Pocock stated that Western governments felt ‘powerless’ and had their hands tied as any attempted recue was termed high risk and could have resulted in civilian casualties. The Boko Haram terrorists were using the girls as human shields!
He said ‘A couple of months after the kidnapping, fly-bys and an American eye in the sky spotted a group of up to 80 girls in a particular spot in the Sambisa forest, around a very large tree, called locally the Tree of Life, along with evidence of vehicular movement and a large encampment.’
He said that the girls were there for a minimum of four weeks but nothing could be done and even then the Nigerian government hadn’t asked for any help.
‘A land-based attack would have been seen coming miles away and the girls killed, an air-based rescue, such as flying in helicopters or Hercules, would have required large numbers and meant a significant risk to the rescuers and even more so to the girls.’
‘You might have rescued a few but many would have been killed. My personal fear was always about the girls not in that encampment — 80 were there, but 250 were taken, so the bulk were not there. What would have happened to them? You were damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’
photo credit: Getty Images
The tale of the girls has been a terrible one. They have been raped, used as sex slaves, brutalized, some even forced to convert from Christianity to Islam. They have had their innocence stripped from them.
It has now been almost two years since it happened and still the girls have not been found, just like in actual kidnap cases, if the abductee isn’t found in the first 48 hours, the chances of ever being found fall to around the 10 percentile region.
People have spoken out against the Western Government about their inactivity. One of such people is Dr Stephen Davis, a former canon at Coventry Cathedral who has spent several years attempting to negotiate with the terror group said Boko Haram ‘make Isis look like playtime’ and said it is ‘beyond belief’ that the authorities both in Nigeria and the West do not know where the schoolgirls are.
He insists the locations of the camps where the girls are being kept are well known and can even be seen on Google maps. He added: ‘How many girls have to be raped and abducted before the West will do anything?’
And that rhetorical question resounds like a shot heard around the world.
‘When will we do anything?’