Nigeria’s abducted Chibok schoolgirls: a timeline

January 15, 2018 5:46 pm
Boko Haram’s mass abduction sparked a global campaign — “Bring Back Our Girls” — to press for their return © AFP/File / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

, Lagos, Nigeria, Jan 15 – A group of young women shown in a video released by Boko Haram on Monday are purported to be among the more than 200 abducted from Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in 2014.

Here is a timeline of the mass kidnapping that captured global attention:

– Snatched from school –

On April 14, 2014 Boko Haram gunmen seize 276 girls aged 12 to 17 from the Government Girls Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state.

The girls are forced from their dormitories onto trucks and driven into the bush. Fifty-seven manage to flee.

Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau claims responsibility in a video released on May 5 and vows to sell the girls as slave brides.

A week later, a second video shows about 100 of the missing girls. Boko Haram says they have converted to Islam and will not be released unless militant fighters held in custody are freed.

An international media campaign demanding the release of the girls is launched, backed by A-list celebrities and politicians, and the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls goes viral.

– One year on –

On April 14, 2015 Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari warns he “cannot promise” that the girls will be found, as vigils are held to mark their first year in captivity.

A new video released by Boko Haram shows at least 14 of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in April 2014 © BOKO HARAM/AFP / Handout

In September 2015, Buhari raises the possibility of an exchange of Boko Haram prisoners for the girls.

In December he says he is willing to negotiate with any “credible” Boko Haram leadership and if there is proof the girls are alive.

– ‘Proof of life’ –

In April 2016, on the eve of the abduction’s second anniversary, it emerges that Boko Haram has sent a “proof of life” video to the government.

It shows 15 of the girls in black hijabs in the first concrete indication that at least some are still alive.

In May 2016 the Nigerian army confirms the first of the schoolgirls has been found.

The 19-year-old was discovered with a four-month-old baby and a man she described as her husband near Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest enclave.

– First releases –

In October 2016, Nigerian officials announce the release of 21 of the girls following talks between the government and Boko Haram, brokered by Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Local sources say four jihadist prisoners were freed as part of the deal.

The army finds two other girls in November 2016 and January 2017.

In May 2017 another 82 girls are released in exchange for five Boko Haram commanders as part of the same talks.

A new video released by Boko Haram shows Boko Haram shows leader Abubakar Shekau flanked by other jihadists © BOKO HARAM/AFP / Handout

Later that month, Boko Haram release a video in which a woman claiming to be one of the Chibok girls is seen wearing a black veil and holding a gun.

She proclaims loyalty to Boko Haram and says she does not want to return to her parents.

Early January 2018 the Nigerian army says it has rescued another of the girls in Borno.


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