18 CHIBOK PARENTS HAVE DIED FROM EFFECTS OF STRESS SINCE ABDUCTION OF DAUGHTERS
From World Watch Monitor
As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Christmas with close friends and family members, the Christians in Chibok prepare for another Christmas without their girls.
World Watch Monitor spoke to Yakubu Nkiki Maina, the chairman of the Chibok Abducted School Girls Parents’ Association. His 18-year-old daughter, Maimuna, was among the more than 200 girls abducted from Chibok State Secondary School in April 2014. Eighteen months after her kidnapping, he expressed the parents’ frustration.
“On April 14, 2014 an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria stormed Chibok. This incident happened when I was at home. Around 9 p.m. I heard a gunshot towards the direction of Chibok. So, all the people in my village ran away, thinking that Boko Haram will also come here. Early in the morning, one of my friends from Chibok came to me and said that all the girls in the school had been abducted by Boko Haram and carried away. I rode to the school, where I met a crowd of people,” said Maina.
At the school, the parents were confronted by the devastation Boko Haram had caused. “All the school hostels [dormitories], the academic areas, the principal’s office, laboratories and every building in the school had been burned down by Boko Haram. Everybody was crying,” added Maina.
For some of the parents, the shock was just too much and many collapsed.
“Some were falling on the ground because these girls had been kidnapped by Boko Haram. I and my wife and some of my blood brothers also started crying.
“We could not agree to just let them go freely with our daughters. So we gathered ourselves and took our local hunting weapons and started pursuing Boko Haram. The next day we came to a certain village in the Damboa local government area near Sambisa Forest. There we met the village head of the area, who told us that Boko Haram has passed there with our daughters. He said, ‘They are close by. But I am warning you, don’t go near the place. They have heavy weapons. They will kill you all. The government knows something about this. Go and inform the government that Boko Haram is here with your daughters. They are not far.’”
After that grave warning, the parents returned to report the matter to the government security services in the area. But their response disappointed the parents because it seemed to lack the required urgency.
Entire families have been left deeply traumatized by the Chibok abduction.
Maina states: “All the families of these abducted girls…we do not have peace of mind. You will see the junior or senior siblings of the girls in captivity, and the mothers. All the time during meals when they are about to take breakfast or lunch, when they look around and can’t see the girls with whom they would normally chatter, they start crying. Some will stop eating. And these things have brought some problems. That is why some of the mothers have even developed ulcers. They cannot eat well. All the activities with which the girls who had been kidnapped used to help their mothers, now that they are not around, the mothers are always crying.
Up to now, the parents, my colleagues and more especially our women, are in terrible conditions, suffering from heart attacks and ulcers as a result of thinking about these girls. They have developed some traumatic conditions that need medical care. We cannot afford to carry them to the hospital. We’ve buried 18 parents of these girls due to these problems.”
Maina adds: “If the government comes to their aid, maybe by God’s grace, by God’s help, these deaths from stress may not occur. Our general hospital in the area cannot solve this problem unless we have a qualified doctor in the field of counseling to attend to these women.
“Presently when we hear gunshots, everybody will start running to the bush, even though we have military men on the ground. Since so far up to now, Boko Haram extremists are attacking. And before these military men hear of the incident, Boko Haram would have already done their work and run away. So really, we are afraid.”
In light of the continued insecurity, schools in Borno and Yobe states have been closed down.
Open Doors has been active in the troubled region of northern Nigeria for almost two decades. The programs consist of Bible distribution, training and caring for new believers, cross cultural ministry training, ministry skills training, Sunday school training, development of curriculum, assistance to Christian schools, emergency support in crisis situations, holistic community development, trauma support, advocacy and implementation of socio-economic projects for new believers and widows of Christian leaders who have been killed. Open Doors has worked closely with the Chibok parents over the past 18 months, including starting a worldwide writing and prayer campaign and providing trauma counseling.
Nigeria is ranked #10 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.