Media professionals have been tasked not to relent and to give continued visibility until the safe return of all Chibok Girls, Leah Sharibu and others who have been kidnapped by the insurgents in Nigeria.
They were also charged to demand accountability from the government regarding the welfare of the Chibok girls.
The call was part of the appeal made in a documentary produced by Women Radio 91.7 which was titled “Nine Years: Life after the Chibok Abduction.”
The documentary featured one of the rescued abductees, parents, and siblings of some of the abducted girls who lamented the government’s inconsistency in reaching out to them. The documentary showed that about 37 parents have died largely because of the trauma caused by the abduction of their children.
During the screening of the documentary in Abuja, media professionals and human rights activists demanded that the Federal Government should not forget the kidnapped girls in captivity, and ensure that they are released.
Ayuba Alamson, a sibling to one of the Chibok girls who attended the screening from Borno State expressed how families have been grieving in recent years.
Alamson said, “they are being kept in the camp doing nothing, they are not being engaged in any vocational training or formal education and we keep appealing to the government to give us an update on what is to be done for the girls”.
The CEO of Women Radio 91.7, Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, pointed out the need for the media to intentionally report these cases and keep the conversation going.
Okewale-Sonaiya said “we should not wait till commemorative dates before referencing the remaining Chibok Girls and the only Dapchi girl still in captivity.
“We should keep the issue of the girls in incarceration on the front burner as constant reminders to the government to work harder in recovering our girls who are now women because their parents and Nigerians need closure”.
Bukky Shonibare, Executive Director of Invictus Africa, urged the media to leverage their visibility around the nine-point agenda of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement in demanding accountability from the government. Shonibare urged the media to “beam the spotlight on the funds allocated for the families and how they should be expended and the need for continuity on the Safe School Initiative”
Hamzat Lawal, CEO of Connected Development (CODE), also advised members of the media not to abandon but to continue to give regular reportage of the abducted girls “As a society, the media sets the tone for governance and continuity of engagement. I believe this is an opportunity with the ongoing transition and important that we use this to set an agenda for the incoming government on security.”
Dr Gloria Puldu, Executive Director of Leah Sharibu Foundation, decried the communication gap between the government and the parents of Leah Sharibu as they have been left without any words from the government since 2020. Puldu commended the Nigerian media for their reportage and urged them to step up efforts to amplify the demands of Nigerians in this case.
Murtala Abdullahi, a journalist, spoke on the need for the media to probe the Chibok Budget Allocation of over 1 billion naira between 2017 & 2022 for accountability and transparency.
The Buhari-led administration was reminded of its promises to bring back the girls by Adaora Sydney-Jack, Executive Director of Gender Strategy Advancement International and a journalist as the administration prepares to leave while urging the incoming Tinubu/Shettima administration to ensure that more efforts are geared toward the release of the remaining girls.
Ene Ede, a gender activist, said psychosocial support and rehabilitation for the girls and their relatives are key.
Friya Bulus, Director of Gender Affairs, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs noted that the ministry had been liaising with different stakeholders in rehabilitating and educating the rescued girls.
Esther Alaribe, head of programmes Women Radio who moderated the conversation, charged media platforms to commit to a weekly reportage of the status of the Chibok Girls and their families and to also work with security agencies to intensify efforts in facilitating the safe release of all the remaining girls still in captivity.