4 August 2014

Nigeria: Chibok Girls and Young Female Bombers

Photo: Twitter
Women wearing hijabs.

Lagos — As the Federal Government intensifies efforts to win the war against the terror group, Boko Haram, through the request of funds to purchase more sophisticated equipment to match the superior fire power of the group, the sect also is unrelenting in devising new strategies to wreak more havoc and make life hellish for Nigerians. To achieve its aim, it has now resorted to using underage female suicide bombers and this has succeeded in wreaking havoc in the last couple of days, especially in Kano metropolis.

While it can be argued that female suicide bombers are not a new phenomenon in terrorism, what makes the recent scenario worrisome is the fact that the recent attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist were carried out by teenagers within the age range of 15-18. This has heightened serious fears amongst Nigerians, especially given the fact that over 200 schoolgirls abducted almost four months ago in Chibok area of Borno State, are still in the captivity of these extremists while the Federal Government keeps giving vague reassurances that it is doing all it can to bring back the girls alive. Like in most serious cases in Nigeria, the government would have long forgotten about the girls if not for the tenacity of the #bringbackourgirls protesters in Abuja, who have defied the rain, threats and intimidations to continue to put the government on its toes till all the girls are rescued alive.

Given the latest rising cases of female suicide bombers, members of this group, including one of its coordinators, Oby Ezekwesili, has raised the alarm that the continued incarceration of the abducted girls in Boko Haram's custody could spell doom for the country and the safety of the girls. The former education minister stated that the Federal Government must act fast and do everything possible within its powers to rescue the girls as soon as possible as the Chibok girls may be indoctrinated or coerced into accepting to be used as suicide bombers.

"It feels like eternity since April 14 when our girls lost their freedom. How can we move on like that? This new trend and serial pattern of female suicide bombers surely should particularly worry us. Female suicide bombers are again and again becoming the trend and our Chibok girls are still in the enemy's den. It worries me stiff. Are we thinking? Our Chibok girls really need to be rescued from the clutches of evil. We must all not stop praying and demanding that the FG acts for results. We have no apology for being agitated. We have nothing to defend for crying out for their rescue," she wrote on her Twitter page.

Sharing Ezekwesili's view, another key member of the coalition, Bukky Shonibare, stated that the number of days the abducted girls had spent in Boko Haram's custody was enough for them to have been indoctrinated by the sect into carrying out their nefarious activities. According to her , it is now increasingly dangerous for the Federal Government that boasted of knowing the location of the girls to leave them with their captors as this may constitute serious dangers for the nation if urgent steps are not taken..

According to Shonibare, "Seems abducted women that were undergoing indoctrination and brainwashing while in hostage for years are now being sent out as suicide bombers. However, 100 days is long enough for anyone's ideologies or principles to be distorted, especially teenagers whose values are still being shaped. To know the possible impact of 100+ days on one's ideologies, psychologists say it takes only 30 days! It is now increasingly dangerous to leave those girls there. Whatever is it they are doing may be counterproductive.

"The Chibok girls can be indoctrinated, brainwashed, or put under duress to do this. In the face of death, no sensible human will be a 'willing participant.' There'll definitely be an element of coercion" she said.

Other Nigerians who spoke with Daily Independent said the Boko Haram insurgents might have resort to using the abducted girls to carry out their nefarious activities given the fact that it is morally unacceptable for the security forces to subject ladies to search. According to these ones, if the girls can be forcefully converted to Islam in two weeks of their capture, then it is very possible to indoctrinate them into suicide acts after over 100 days in captivity. They also urge the federal government to do all they can to rescue the abducted girls from captivity before being used by the extremists to wreak further havoc on the country.

Former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch, Monday Onyekachi Ubani, said the possibility that Boko Haram may be using the abducted girls is very high, given the onslaught of the security forces on Boko Haram and the abhorrence of Islamic religion to subjecting ladies to search.

"It is unfortunate that our girls are being used for this issue of bombings. And of course, everyone knows the power of indoctrination. These young girls are being used now to bomb because they are ladies. Most times, the security forces don't conduct thorough search on them because of hijab they wear and for religious reasons".

"It is possible that these girls are the Chibok girls and Boko Haram must have done a lot of indoctrination and instigates these young girls against the society, government and Nigerians. They will tell them that part of the problem they are suffering is caused by Nigeria and the best thing is to fight the country. This has a horrible effect because on girl-child education because already many people are withdrawing their children from school in that Northern environment because of abduction and the likes. Now, the girls being used for such heinous crimes such as suicide bombing will make lots of girls stay away from school. It is possible that these girls are the ones being used, especially given the age range and so we should really probe if these young female bombers are not part of the Chibok girls. It is worrisome" he said.

Another Lagos-based lawyer, Paul Ayoade said the likelihood that the abducted Chibok girls are now the foot soldiers of Boko Haram is very high given the fact that the country has not witnessed the case of young female bombers prior to the abduction of the girls. He added that Boko Haram as a notorious terrorist organization is "capable of doing anything to achieve its aim."

"When I look the range of the young female bombers, which is 15-18, I strongly believe that the abducted girls may have been brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers. After 105 days in captivity, it will be very easy for these terrorists to brainwash these innocent girls into becoming one. In most cases, they can use threat while anyone that refuses to cooperate will be shot. Seeing that alone will make others toe the line," he said.

However, Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Itse Sagay said the female bombers may not be the Chibok girls because the terrorists also have wives, sisters and other female counterparts that can be used as bomb couriers to carry out their dastardly acts.

According to Sagay, "As for female bombers, where they are male bombers, there are female bombers. Where there are male terrorists, there are female terrorists. I don't think they have to be connected to the Chibok girls. Obviously, these Boko Haram terrorists had their female counterparts. They have wives, sisters and associates. What a man can do a woman can do better. Terrorism is not a matter of gender. Any gender can be a terrorist. Women terrorists are being used because they are not likely to be checked. Obviously that is the reason why female bombers are now on the rampage."

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