Three years ago to the day, a group of armed Boko Haram militants stormed a small village in the eastern part of Nigeria and kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls, the Associated Press detailed. Some have since been released, but roughly 195 of the Chibok girls remain missing--their whereabouts unknown to friends and family members.
Activists rallied in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on Friday, hoping to send a message to President Muhammadu Buhari's government that more needs to be done to locate the girls.
"It is still a nightmare to me. It is still fresh as if it happened last night," said Rebecca Samuel, whose daughter Sarah remains missing. "The government is trying, but I believe they can do more than what they are doing."
A few of the girls escaped on their own, but in October, Nigeria announced the release of 21 girls after its government negotiated with the extremist group. It added that another group of 83 girls would be reunited with their families "very soon." But those 83 girls -- in addition to their counterparts -- have yet to be released. Last week, the government said the negotiations have "gone quite far" but face challenges. Declining to provide additional details, Buhari said on Friday that the country is "willing to bend over backward" to secure the schoolgirls' release.
"It is deeply shocking that three years after this deplorable and devastating act of violence, the majority of the girls remain missing," a half-dozen independent experts for the United Nations, who visited Nigeria last year, said in a statement this week.
The mass abduction was decried by foreign governments, sparking a global Bring Back Our Girls movement. The Chibok incident played a major role in Buhari's 2015 victory over former President Goodluck Jonathan.
"I thank the Almighty for sparing the lives of some, and mine is among them," said Esther Yakubu, who wept last year when she watched a Boko Haram video with the first proof of life of her daughter, Dorcas, since her capture. Her daughter has not yet been freed.