By Adejoh Idoko Momoh
In the days leading up to Monday, Fatima struggled with sleep; reconciling the need to wake at night to study and the deprivation of a past time she really enjoyed. Ten minutes after she finally found sleep, she was rudely awakened and forcibly loaded onto a truck.
It has been 94 days now and she is still held against her will in the camp of dreaded Islamist sect Boko Haram. She has neither seen any family nor a thing that is familiar to her and probably cries herself to sleep every night. This can very easily can be the story of any one of the 300 girls that were abducted on the night of April 14th from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
There are plenty of reasons to be angry with a system that has for the most part been a disappointment and failed to deliver on its principal obligation of security for its citizens. However, you cannot afford to sit on the sidelines; put yourself in the situation of the girls or their parents. Imagine a daughter birthed and nurtured till the age of 18, and then she is carted away and you get no information on her wellbeing or livelihood for close to 3 months?
Or imagine yourself going to work or the farm, a lone land rover drives by and you are coerced into it, kidnapped for more than 93 days? The thought that this could just have been you or a close relative should motivate you enough to speak up. It may be a Fatima from Chibok today or an Elizabeth from Gwoza tomorrow. It may even be your own daughter; she can be kidnapped just as you drop her off in school.
Abductions should concern us and we should lend our voices to causes that demand that governments everywhere fund and motivate their armed forces adequately to go on rescue missions and bring back people who are abducted in a timely manner and deliver them safely to their parents.
If you are concerned about geographical locations and you naively think you are too much of an elite to be abducted or you live in towns far away from where these gruesome acts take place, let me share with you the story of a personal friend; herself a veteran Nollywood actress.
One evening as she returned from seeing her brother at Dreams Garden in Abuja’s Wuse 2 District, she was stopped by thugs from the Abuja Environmental Agency and the Society against Prostitution and Child Labor who accused her of prostitution after hauling her into a bus. She was held against her will: condoms thrown at her, her clothes torn and photos taken to lay credence to their false allegations that she was a sex worker. She has since been released and has sought justice. Sadly, the process is slow or deliberately not yielding any result as people who constitute Nigeria’s ‘high and mighty’ are the same people on whose authority this abduction and illegal arrest was carried out.
Abductions in Nigeria are thriving because of cases similar to the above. Consider also the recent case of the two sisters who were kidnapped in Abuja’s Karmo district just outside their home. It is rumored the family had to pay some N10m to secure their release two weeks after they were taken. Who could have imagined? Two girls on a walk in a town that is supposedly the most secure in Nigeria kidnapped just in front of their home?
As long as people know they can carry out these dastardly acts and not face the wrath of justice, they will keep performing them. As long as we do not speak out, abductions will continue.
54 years after the Federal Republic of Nigeria swore in its constitution to protect its citizens and guaranty them the freedom of movement amongst other fundamental human rights, people like you and I continue to be abducted, arrested and held against our will. In other words, in every one of the 54 years we have existed as a sovereign nation, this country has continued to betray its self imposed responsibilities to its citizens.
Be attentive. Make it a habit to avoid dark walk ways and deserted parking lots. Or in situations similar to the above, get an escort; except in cases of terrorism, it is more difficult to abduct two individuals as opposed to one. Ladies can walk around with small vials of pepper spray in their hand bags; do whatever makes you feel safe.
In addition to all these, you must support movements like the BringBackOurGirls or the Women Rights Advancement and Protection Agency, both engagements that seek to let government know that we have had enough. We all have the right to live in a country that is abduction free. We must demand of our government who is the authority we voted into office to secure our lives and properties. We must make bold and say that we cannot condone these injustices to us, women and children.