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A parent of one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Zanna Lawan, speaks with BAYO AKINLOYE about the pains he still feels in his heart as the Chibok community marked the second anniversary of the girls’ abduction
What is your daughter’s name?
The name of my daughter is Aisha.
How old is she?
She is now 20 years old; because when she was abducted by the insurgents she was 18 years old.
How do you feel that two years after the abduction of your daughter and other schoolgirls, they have not been rescued?
How do you explain how I feel? I feel so bad that I do not know how to express my feelings. Life has not been the same. Her abduction from her school hostel remains an unforgettable experience; it is like a loss I cannot recover from.
What about her mother – has she been able to bear the pain of her daughter being held in captivity by Boko Haram insurgents?
It is difficult to express how she feels. There are times she just looks on (lost in thought). She is always emotionally distraught. She cries every time. She is not okay. I try my best to encourage her not to cry too much because it is important for us to rely on Allah to sustain us and help us bring back my girl and the other girls. We pray to Allah to help us. We are also appealing to anybody who can help to bring back our daughters. We are appealing to the government too to help us. Without our daughters, life has been very difficult to live. How can we live well when our children are being held in captivity by some people? I want to see my daughter come back home alive.
Does Aisha have other siblings?
Yes; she has brothers and sisters. I have 11 children and she is my second daughter.
What kind of girl is Aisha?
Actually, she is a clever girl. She is a good member of the family.
What will you say is her favourite subject in school?
Aisha works hard when it comes to her studies and she loves religion.
Two years ago, did you expect this kind of incident to have occurred?
No, there was no reason to imagine that one day our daughter and other schoolgirls would be kidnapped from their school. I never thought of it; nobody expected this tragedy. The attack and eventual abduction took us all by surprise.
Was your daughter one of the Chibok girls shown in the video released by Boko Haram?
No, she was not among the girls shown in the video. I was the one who nominated the three mothers who went to watch the video in Maiduguri (in Borno State). I am the secretary of the ChibokGirls’Parents’Association. When I was contacted to come and see the video, I assigned the three mothers whose girls were also among those abducted to go and watch the video and they reported that about 15 or 16 of the girls were seen in the video.
You did not go to Maiduguri to watch the video, was it that you were scared you might see something unpalatable in the video?
I did not go not because I was scared of seeing something unpleasant in the video. I had to stay back in Chibok in order to ensure that adequate preparations were made for the second anniversary of the abduction. There were so many arrangements to make and most of the activities were under my charge. Upon their return, they told me what they saw.
Is the Chibok community at peace at the moment or are people still living in fear?
Peace reigns; there is no problem in Chibok right now. The real problem right now is that the children cannot go to school; there is no school to attend. Those who go to school have to be taken to other states to get education by their parents who can afford it. The only secondary school we have in Chibok has been demolished. But we are living in peace; not fear. We are appealing to the government and every organisation to help us bring our daughters back.
With the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan unable to rescue your daughters and the other girls, do you believe that President Muhammadu Buhari can bring back the girls?
We have hope. We have full trust in God. We are appealing to the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to save our daughters and rescue them from captivity. Since the previous government (of Goodluck Jonathan) failed to rescue our daughters, we are begging people in government to help bring back our children. The previous government gave us empty hope. They promised us lies. In this government, (Buhari’s) we have seen changes and the efforts being made (to fight Boko Haram) and so we are appealing to them (the Federal Government) to save our daughters. We have the hope that he (Buhari) will bring back our girls for us.
Did you say the Jonathan administration failed the Chibok community in making efforts to rescue the Chibok girls?
Yes; they (Jonathan administration) failed us. All they promised us were lies. We went to him (Jonathan) but what he promised were lies. He said he would find the whereabouts of the girls but till his administration ended he did not succeed. We trust in Allah to help; we have hope and we believe that President Buhari will try his best to bring back our daughters. We hope he will do all he can to get our daughters for us.
Do you agree with Boko Haram’s claim to be fighting for Islam?
Is that what the Quran says? Did the Quran say we should kidnap and kill people? The Quran does not say we should fight (as Muslims). Islam is love; the Quran promotes wisdom. The Quran does not urge anybody to fight. But at the moment, we are appealing to them (Boko Haram); we beg them in the name of Allah to return our daughters. We are missing them. Living without our daughters has been very difficult for us. We appeal to them to have mercy and let our girls come back home. One day Allah will judge. For me, we can forgive and forget. They should please let our children return home safely. All of the Chibok girls’ parents are appealing to them and we beg the whole world to help bring back our daughters.
What do you make of the forceful conversion of some of the girls to Islam?
Islam does not teach that; if you check the second verse of the Quran you will see that Islam does not preach forceful conversion. There is no compulsion in belonging to the Islamic religion. Religion means peace; religion means love. Islam means worshipping Allah and does not mean that we should fight one another.
What was the message of the second anniversary of the abducted Chibok girls?
The parents’ message was simple and clear: we want our daughters back. We appealed to the ministers and permanent secretaries who represented the Federal Government to see to it that our girls were brought back. That is the assistance we need from them. We have also received assurances from the Borno State governor (Kashim Shettima) that we should be patient and that one day, God willing, when people come back to Chibok, it will not be to sympathise with us but to rejoice with us.
If there is anything you can do to have your daughter back will you do it?
I am willing to do anything to have my daughter back. I can sacrifice a lot to have my daughter back. I pray that Allah will bring her back to me. I am really waiting for that day that my daughter will come back. I am missing my beloved daughter.
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Source: Punch News