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Has Boko Haram shot itself in the foot?

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Has Boko Haram shot itself in the foot?

Teachers locked up girls?

The parent who alleged that the teachers locked up the girls on that night is called Watila Simon. His student daughter is Godiya Simon. He said that although he was out of town when the insurgents laid siege to Chibok, he made a phone call to his daughter immediately he heard that the village was being attacked.

“I asked her, ‘Are you together with soldiers?’ She said ‘no’, and I asked about the police, and she said they were not with them, but that the girls were safe in the school.” Watila Simon revealed that when he spoke with Godiya, the insurgents were still attacking the town and had not yet gone to the school. “She equally told me that all the teachers had already left and there was no elder person with them,” he said. Simon said it was on the realisation that there was no one guarding the school that he told his daughter to take to her heels if the opportunity arose.

“I told her that once the insurgents finished with the people in the town, they would turn to the school and she should run. When the sound of gunshots started in the town, the teachers were still with them but they later took to their heels, locked them in and ran away,” he maintained.

“She even told me that the teachers instructed them to stay put and not to run; then one of the teachers locked the gate so there was no way for them to escape. As I expected, when Boko Haram finished with the town, they came for the girls at the school. The terrorists asked the girls to go with them, assuring them that they were soldiers. The girls believed them because the terrorists were in military uniform. The girls were told that they would be protected from the insurgents who were attacking the town and would be safe. The girls believed and complied. They were then asked to bring all their mobile phones…”

Watila Simon added: “I knew that my daughter was in trouble immediately I called her again and she was no longer picking up her calls. This was further confirmed the next day when I called the people in town and they told me all our daughters had been carried away,” he said. 

Godiya, Watila’s daughter, was one of the few lucky girls who managed to escape from the terrorists after they had been taken into the terrorists’ hideout inside Simbisa Forest Reserve, an area believed to be 60,000 square kilometres.

Narrating how she escaped from her abductors, Godiya said that she and three other girls asked for permission to go and relieve themselves. They seized the opportunity to flee. After running for a while, they came across an itinerant herdsman of the Fulani ethnic group, who assisted them to get back to Chibok. She revealed that before her escape, the terrorists had threatened to kill them. 

They were not properly fed during their captivity, she added.

Another Chibok resident, Rev. Enoch Mark, told ThisDay about his experience. His two daughters were among those abducted. He said: “We ran into the bush on the night of 14 April and in the morning, we returned but the gunmen were still in town. I learnt that one of my daughters had jumped out of the truck and got injured and this motivated me to run after them to retrieve her. I saw some of them [terrorists] with their vehicles broken down but I could not summon enough courage to approach them… They [had] parked their vehicles all over and were in Chibok until 10.30 am the next day, [but] because there was no help I was forced to come back to the village.” 

He said the government soldiers in Chibok on the night of the attack were insufficient to match the number of terrorists who attacked the town. “The soldiers were overwhelmed and had to flee,” he said. In his view, if there had been more soldiers and they had also been well equipped, the schoolgirls would not have been abducted.

International response

Such heart-breaking stories about the abduction have been told around the world, although the world media were exceedingly slow in picking up the story. The groundswell of emotion, once the story began to be told, has been overwhelming. Michelle Obama was photographed holding a placard with BringBackOurGirls written on it. Mrs Obama also commandeered her husband’s usual weekend broadcast to express her empathy, and that of her husband, with the mothers and fathers who had lost daughters similar to the two that she and Barack Obama are bringing up. Obama himself condemned the abduction of the girls as a “horrendous” act.

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Written by Cameron Duodu

Cameron Duodu (born 24 May 1937) is a UK-based Ghanaian novelist, journalist, editor and broadcaster. After publishing a notable novel, The Gab Boys, in 1967, Duodu went on to a distinguished career as a journalist and editorialist.

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