The Nigerian group which sparked a global campaign for the safe return of schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 said this week it would sue government if it failed to provide answers over a similar mass abduction last month.
Islamist militant group Boko Haram took 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi on February 19 and, under a previous administration, it kidnapped 276 girls from Chibok in 2014.
“The magnitude of incompetence and carelessness of our government enabled the repeat of the worst abduction tragedy,” said campaign group Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG).
The campaign group formed in the wake of the Chibok abduction submitted questions about the Dapchi kidnapping to President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
BBOG challenged government over how Boko Haram could stage the attack, given that the administration and the military say the insurgent group is defeated.
They said the Dapchi school was unprotected despite a Safe Schools Initiative set up in 2014 and the military earlier withdrew from the town at an unspecified time. The school is in north-east Nigeria, the heartland of the insurgency.
The campaign group also asked why government said in its initial response to the Dapchi incident there was no evidence of abduction and why parents were later told more than 70 girls were returned, information proven false.
“Our questions are premised on the troubling sparseness of information … by the federal government,” BBOG said in a statement. A Nigerian presidency spokesman declined to comment.
Boko Haram has killed 20,000 people since 2009 but no longer holds the large tracts of territory it did in late 2014. It still conducts raids in remote areas, making it hard for security forces to defend people in areas largely cut off from the rest of the country.
If the administration fails to respond within seven days BBOG will sue government for gross negligence that led to the Dapchi abductions, the group’s founder, Obi Ezekwesili, told reporters in Abuja.
Similar criticisms were levelled by Buhari’s then opposition party at the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan after the Chibok kidnapping.
Some Chibok girls have been freed after what security sources say were ransom payments but around 100 are still being held.