Seven years after Chibok—pray by name for Nigeria’s stolen daughters

April 14, 2021 by Lindy Lowry in Africa

Today, April 14, 2021, marks seven years—84 months/364 weeks/2,557 days—since Boko Haram stormed the Chibok Girls’ State Secondary School where 275 students were gathered and kidnapped 230 girls. The mass kidnappings quickly garnered the attention of the world (#bringbackourgirls),

Today, 111 of them are still missing. And some 111 families are still waiting to be united with their child. Here, we include a list of names to help you pray for Chibok’s stolen daughters—and we ask you to say their names with us as we remember our missing family in Nigeria.

Yana Gana holds a picture of her missing daughter Rifkatu.

Pretending to be government security who came to protect them, the attackers coaxed 230 of those girls onto trucks and made off with them towards the Sambisa Forest. Some 47 escaped before, during and shortly after the attack. It was more than two years before more girls made it to freedom. Today, seven years later, 111 of those girls remain unaccounted for. On April 14, the parents will commemorate the event that changed their lives forever.

No news

The event will take place amid an atmosphere of exasperation. Very little is known about the whereabouts and the condition of the girls who remain in captivity. It’s also not clear whether or not there are any real government efforts to negotiate a release, much less progress in securing their freedom.

Expressing frustration over the silence from the government, Yakubu Nkeki Maina, chairman of the parents’ association of the Chibok Kidnapped Girls told Open Doors: “It is so unfortunate that the government, who is supposed to take care of all its citizens, have neglected our daughters in the hands of the Boko Haram. There is no justification to why our daughters would not be rescued from the hands of the kidnappers for seven years now. … It’s quite disturbing that we have cried and asked the government to come to our rescue, but our cry has fallen on deaf ears.”

Mothers share on the five-year anniversary of the mass kidnappings
Mothers share on the five-year anniversary of the mass kidnappings

‘They want to wipe Chibok out’

Over the past seven years, the parents of the Chibok girls have endured repeated speculation about the status of their daughters. For the parents, it is a seven-year nightmare with no end.

Yana Gana, mother to Rifkatu, told Open Doors: “These seven years have been like 100 years to me. Day and night, I keep praying and hoping that my daughter would come back home. If my daughter is dead, I want to know, so that I would mourn and find peace in my heart. The suspense is too much. This issue has left me with high blood pressure, which I never had before.”

Adding to their stress is the continuing insecurity in their town, as Boko Haram continues to carry out attacks in the area. Only four months ago on Christmas eve, insurgents attacked Chibok and other nearby communities, killing eight and kidnapping a pastor and a three-year-old boy.

Nkeki Mutah, chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, told CNN that attacks on Chibok are frequent and specific.

“Since 2018, virtually every two weeks, Boko Haram has been attacking Chibok, killing and abducting people,” Mutah said. “They want to wipe Chibok out from the surface of the Earth.”

This year, Nigeria has been the setting of frequent kidnappings by bandits who may or may not be associated with Islamic extremists like Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province. The country has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases, explains Quarts Africa. In their effort to establish a caliphate in the Lake Chad Basin and beyond, Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of girls, women, boys and men from their homes across northeastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon and the southern areas of Niger and Chad.

Since April 14, 2014

After the insurgents made off with around 230 Chibok girls, only about half of them have found freedom:

  • May 18, 2016: Nigerian soldiers discover Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki, 19, near Damboa, south of Maiduguri with a four-month-old baby and her “husband” in the Sambisa Forest.
  • November 5, 2016: Soldiers find Mary Ali Maiyanga in Pulka, Gwoza, who escapes with a 10-month-old baby.
  • October 13, 2016: Boko Haram releases 21 girls.
  • May 6, 2017: Another 82 girls are released.
  • January 5, 2018: One girl, Salomi Pogu is rescued.
  • January 25, 2021: Halima Ali Maiyanga manages to flee Boko Haram militants with 100 other captives. She is the stepsister of Maryam (Mary) Ali Maiyanga, who was rescued by troops with a baby from a Boko Haram commander in 2016.

A call for action and prayer

On this seventh anniversary of the mass kidnapping, Open Doors continues to call on the international community to urge Nigerian President Buhari to continue efforts to liberate the hostages held by Boko Haram, and to create a position within the government for the sole purpose of maintaining an active family liaison and an open and accessible channel of communication with the traumatized parents of hostages.

Nigerian Christians have been exposed to targeted violence for more than a decade. Apart from working to address survivors’ physical needs, Open Doors also uses a multi-pronged approach to focus on widespread trauma among the country’s afflicted Christians, including trauma awareness training; supporting trauma caregivers; and providing specialized care. Since April 14, 2014, Open Doors has been journeying with the Chibok parents both practically through emergency relief  (food and medicine) and spiritually through presence ministry, prayer and trauma care.

Please pray

Pray that the Chibok parents will receive good news about their daughters’ release soon. As they commemorate the seventh anniversary of possibly the worst day of their lives, pray for God’s sustaining grace and peace that surpasses their own understanding. Pray that the many other Nigerians whose loved ones have been abducted will also experience God’s mercy in this way.

Pray for renewed dedication and transparency from the government in efforts to secure the release of these daughters and all other captives. Pray for a breakthroughs in the battle against insecurity in northern Nigeria.

Pray for the Chibok girls and many other believers who remain in Boko Haram captivity. Pray that each day as they face their frightful circumstances, they would be reminded of God’s presence, His love for them and His high and glorious purposes for them that transcend our human understanding.

Thank God for the release of about half of the Chibok girls and all other captives that have found freedom. Thank Him for all progress they have made in life outside of captivity. Pray that God will continue to remind them of His closeness and that they would continue to follow Him with joy.

Pray for those among released people who may still be suffering from trauma. Pray that the Lord in His mercy would make a way for them to receive the care they so desperately need.

Pray by name for Chibok’s stolen daughters and their families

  1. Yayi ABANA
  2. Deborah ABARI
  3. Deborah ABBAS
  4. Hauwa ABDU
  5. Safiya ABDU
  6. Kummai /Jummai ABOKO
  7. Hamasatu ABUBAKAR
  8. Maryam ABUBAKAR
  9. Hasana ADAMU
  10. Asabe ALI
  11. Mary AMOS
  12. Rifkatu AMOS
  13. Saraya AMOS
  14. Esther AYUBA
  15. Hauwa BALTI
  16. Awa BITRUS
  17. Godiya BITRUS
  18. Ruth BITRUS
  19. Nguba/Moda BUBA/Baba
  20. Saratu DAUDA
  21. Lydia EMMAR
  22. Monica ENOCH
  23. Rifkatu GALANG
  24. Aishatu GREMA
  25. Zara ISHAKU
  26. Hauwa ISUWA
  27. Awa Ali JAMES
  28. Ladi JOEL
  29. Esther JOHN
  30. Laraba JOHN
  31. Rhoda JOHN
  32. Hauwa JOSEPH
  33. Rakiyah KWAMTAH
  34. Hauwa KWANGWI
  35. Kauna LALAI
  36. Aisha LAWAN
  37. Falta LAWAN
  38. Ruth LAWAN
  39. Hauwa Musa MAINA
  40. Kabu MALLA
  41. Esther MARKUS 1
  42. Esther MARKUS 2
  43. Aishatu MUSA
  44. Hanatu MUSA
  45. Rejoice MUSA
  46. Saraya MUSA
  47. Elizabeth Joseph MUTA
  48. Hauwa MUTAH
  49. Hauwa NKEKI
  50. Hanatu NUHU
  51. Ladi PAUL
  52. Laraba PAUL
  53. Saraya PAUL
  54. KAUNA/Hauwa PETER
  55. Yana POGU
  56. Sarah SAMUEL
  57. Rejoice SANKI
  58. Margaret SHETTIMA
  59. Lydia SIMON
  60. Deborah SOLOMON
  61. Saraya Mal STOVER
  62. Mary SULE
  63. Hauwa TAKAI
  64. Hauwa TELLA
  65. Ladi WADAI
  66. Margaret WATSAI
  67. Hauwa WULLE
  68. Glory YAGA
  69. Dorcas YAKUBU
  70. Rifkatu YAKUBU
  71. Suzana YAKUBU
  72. Jinkai YAMA
  73. Yana YIDAU
  74. Rahila YOHANNA

(Names on both Christian Association of Nigeria and Bring Back our Girls (BBOG) lists)