By Paul Ndiho, Abuja, Nigeria
Last week more than 60 women and girls managed to escape from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. They’re among several hundred that have been abducted in different parts of North Eastern Nigeria. However, Boko Haram is still holding more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April.
Boko Haram triggered an international outcry when it captured more than 200 schoolgirls in Borno State’s Chibok town. It’s been nearly three months and still no news of their release. Parents of the abducted schoolgirls, concerned citizens and human rights activists are still pleading for action. I met up with the group in Unity Park in central Abuja over the girls, chanting: “Bring back our girls now and alive. Moreen Kabrik is one of the activists.
“We’re still carrying on with our campaign because our mission, our purpose of coming here everyday has not been achieved. The essence of our coming out here everyday is to serves as a reminder to each one of us as citizens of Nigeria, that something is wrong; our sisters are still being abducted. They haven’t come back yet to their parents and I think there is a need for us to continue coming out here.
A campaign to “Bring Back Our Girls” is still concerned over the kidnappings, the vulnerability of the girls and the brutality of the attackers. Aisha, another “Bring Back Our Girls” activist says the government is not doing enough.
“Initially the government said that they were doing everything they can, but we want to see results. We don’t want a situation where we see motion without movement. We want movement of the girls back to their parents and basically what the government is doing is trying to fight us.
In light of the recent developments including the bombing carried out by Boko Haram at Banex plaza, a popular shopping centre in the heart of the capital, Abuja — where at least 21 people died and several others injured, the government and security agencies continue to face criticism both at home and abroad – over how they have dealt with Boko Haram militants and the Kidnapped girls. However, the government says it’s fighting back. Mohammed Abubakar is Nigeria’s Inspector General of police or IGP.
“People don’t have a basic understanding of what terror is. You need to understand what terror is, their belief. It’s an ideological belief that they believe in and as far as I’m concerned, I know we have done so much. Not only as the police but all the security agencies, particularly the police as the lead internal security agency. So much is being done in terms of deployment, in terms of intelligence and terms of surveillance – Otherwise, the attacks could have been much more than this…”
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has increasingly targeted civilians in its bloody five-year insurgency. Critics of the government say there are raising public anger over government’s inability to protect citizens from violent attacks. The Inspector general of police and other security agencies are focusing on preventing other attacks
“In recent times, we have had several arrests made in different states that prevented other attacks. But generally we’re doing everything to reassure the public that the government is on top of the security situation and we’re not overwhelmed by such situations.”
I was given access to Banex Plaza shopping centre, the scene of a bomb blast that had killed 21 people in the upscale neighborhood.
“ The whole place has been cordoned off for security reasons of course and as you can see there is no business activity taking place at this time.
I spoke to Adrian Uchena, a trader and one of the eyewitnesses; who narrowly survived the powerful blast that shuttered the entire shopping mall. He explains what really happened on that fateful day.
“What happened here a couple weeks ago is that– – we experienced these unprecedented happenings by Boko Haram people. They want to come in here, and security refused them to enter with their jeep they pretended that they’re going to bank. When they refused them the second time, that’s when bomb blow up.”
Last Month’s bomb attack was the third on the capital since April, but the other two – car bombings of a bus station and street both in the suburb of Nyanya that killed about 90 people between them – did not strike at the heart of the city.
Security analysts say, a spate of deadly bombings outside of its northeastern heartlands – in Jos, Kano and Abuja – suggests Boko Haram is trying to push its sphere of influence outwards across Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Today the government says it’s doing everything in its power to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. People are getting back to their normal routine; renovations are taking place and hopefully things will change for better.