Service held to mark 10 years since kidnapping of Chibok schoolgirls

Chibok parents at the 10th anniversary service.(Photo: Open Doors)

A service has been held in Chibok, Nigeria, on the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls. 

The service was attended by hundreds of parents, many of whom are still waiting for the release of their daughters. 

While some have been released and others have escaped over the years, 82 of the girls remain unaccounted for. 

Hanatu Daua, who attended the service, is one of the lucky parents as her daughter Saratu was released with three of her children. But she told Open Doors that she longs to see the other girls freed.

"But together, we are pleading for the release of the other daughters in captivity," she said.

"May God bail them so we can sit together again and let go of this bitterness in us. We are pleading with Boko Haram to release them. We are tired."

The girls, all aged between 16 and 18 at the time, were abducted from their school by terrorist group Boko Haram between 16 and 18 April 2014. 

Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the Chibok Parents Association, said, "It's been 10 years, so I ask the government, what is our crime? What did Chibok ever do that their children haven't been released? Even if they have grown old or given birth to 10 children each, a way should be made to bring them back to us the way they are."

Jabez Musa, a Nigerian human rights lawyer who has been advocating for persecuted Christians in the North and Middle Belt of Nigeria, said, "The Chibok families have been under serious trauma and agony this last decade. Some have fallen sick from the stress and worry, and some have died.

"One thing I think that is increasing the upset for parents is reports coming from the IDP camps where some of the released girls are being kept are for rehabilitation. We are hearing that government officials there are planning marry some of the girls to Boko Haram insurgents, without the consent of the parents."

Nigeria is ranked sixth on Open Doors World Watch list of countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. The human rights group says that Nigeria has the highest level of violence towards Christians of any nation, with over 5,000 Nigerian Christians killed for their faith last year.

Parents at the service were critical of the Nigerian government and its failure to stop wider violence against the Christian community.

"The president has been so quiet since he was elected," said Musa.

"He has not been commenting on this security situation, or the violence generally, particularly in the northern region of Nigeria.

"There is so much pressure now for government to end that impunity the militants have, and for some of us we are calling on the international community especially the UK Government to impress on the Tinubu government that they need to find a way to end this problem."