The Nigerian government reiterated its commitment to securing the release of the remaining Chibok girls as the country marked the seventh anniversary of the kidnapping of the girls by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
276 schoolgirls were abducted by the militants on April 14, 2014, from their school in Chibok town in the restive northeastern Nigerian state of Borno. The incident sparked a global outcry and a social media campaign dubbed #BringBackOurGirls.
Since then, about half of the girls have been found or freed, dozens have been paraded in propaganda videos and an unknown number have died.
In 2018, Nigeria’s Ministry of Information said 110 girls remained unaccounted for following the incident the world has largely forgotten about. However, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari made it clear that is not the case within his government.
“The Presidency reassures parents and all concerned citizens that the missing students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, remain constantly on the minds of government,” the Nigerian presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.
The presidency said a recent “decisive” operation by the Nigerian military against the militants offered hope that a breakthrough in the situation was possible and could happen “anytime soon”.
“The Presidency asks for support, understanding and prayers for the military as they discharge their historic mandate to quickly finish off the insurgency war and free all citizens held hostage.”
Buhari had pledged to eliminate Boko Haram as one of the pillars of his 2015 election campaign and he has repeatedly vowed to spare no effort in ensuring all kidnapped Nigerians are released.
However, his administration has failed to defeat the insurgency, which has been active since 2009, and the country has been plagued by several insecurity incidents, especially in the last year. Among them were the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolchildren and the killing of more than 100 people in an attack on farmworkers in the troubled Borno State.
The Boko Haram insurgency has killed thousands of people and forced millions of others to flee their homes.