Marco Werman: It's just shy of a hundred days since 276 girls in northern Nigeria were abducted by the Muslim extremists Boko Haram, and Nigeria has seen more bombings and abductions since the girls vanished.
Just yesterday, officials in Nigeria announced that yet another group of girls and women had been abducted a few weeks ago, but they managed to escape. Journalist and lawyer Chude Jideonwo says it's difficult to distinguish fact from fiction in Nigeria's many kidnapping cases.
Chude Jideonwo: Three weeks ago, when these girls were kidnapped in a village called, I think, Damboa, the Nigerian security forces denied the reports that more women had been kidnapped. So it was really strange to see the same forces now say that the women that hadn't been kidnapped, had been released. It symbolizes the confusion around the rescue efforts.
Werman: Right, so a lot of assumptions posing as facts, and no real clear details. Is that the same case for those 276 girls kidnapped in mid-April that started the #bringbackourgirls campaign?
Jideonwo: Yes, yes that's, it's exactly the case. The chief of defence staff in Nigeria said one month or two ago, that he knew the exact location of the girls. And then last week, military spokespeople said they do not know where the girls are. You know, it's just a pretty distressing state of affairs. It's almost like they're kidnapping the girls all over again because it's one thing to have these girls missing and for us to be confident hat every single best effort is being applied to solve this problem. It's another to have the girls missing and be more convinced every day that those with the duty of finding the girls are as confused as ever.
Werman: In Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, there's daily protests on behalf of the missing girls. Those continue, yeah?
Jideonwo: Yes, they do continue. Under the most relentless, shameful attacks by the Nigerian government. The police force in Abuja first asked protesters not to protest anymore. And protestors had to take them to court to get an injunction against them. And then they withdrew the security protection for the protesters. Then government buses shipped in counter-protesters who attacked the bring back our girls protesters in Abuja. We are also working towards hoping that these girls don't stay there for 100 days, but they are there in 100 days we will be taking our protest to the president once again to demand actual feedback on what's happening with the girls.
Werman: There really seems to be no let up in Nigeria. I mean, both the big headlines and small items. I mean small scale kidnappings by Boko Haram extremists go on weekly almost. So do bombings in several Nigerian states.
Jideonwo: Each time bombs have happened, once or twice, the president has said this is the global trend, and maybe it is Nigeria's time. And this is not a paraphrase. And has compared our country to the war torn Iraq, and to Afghanistan at various periods of time. There is a sense that this is a problem beyond us, that we get from the top. I mean, I was appalled when the bombs happened in June just before the World Cup in Abuja, in the center shopping mall, killed almost 20. We tweeted for a few minutes and there was outrage, it trended, and we're back to watching football and tweeting about football. We can't afford as citizens to let this become a way of life.
Werman: You're in New York right now, Chude, on a book tour. And it so happened that last week you were riding in a hotel elevator and an Israeli said to "You, you see what's happening in Iraq? It looks like Boko Haram wants to do the same thing in Nigeria." What kind of response did you have to that man?
Jideonwo: He said to me, "You know, the Islamists want to run down your country and take over the government." And you know, nobody has ever quite put it in such a stark way. I mean, apart from my president comparing Nigeria with Iraq, I have never compared our country with Iraq. I reacted immediately in almost an annoyance, it can never happen, you know, because this is just a fringe group in the northeast. And he says "Well, that's how it started in other parts of the world. And if your government isn't winning the war, isn't stopping the bombs from spreading to other states, then give me one good reason why what is happening with ISIS in Iraq will not happen with Boko Haram in Nigeria." And honestly, I take no pleasure in saying this â€” I honestly couldn't and still cannot think of a legitimate, logical response to such a question because no matter what the government tries to say in Nigeria, we are not winning this war against terror.
Werman: And as you say, we are closing in on 100 days since those 276 girls were kidnapped. For you, what are those girls still a symbol of?
Jideonwo: For me they're a symbol of a steady march into anarchy.
Werman: A steady march into anarchy?
Jideonwo: Anarchy. I take no pleasure in using bombastic words, but that is the reality of our situation. It's a steady march. They represent for us our failure as citizens because many of us allowed the government to get away with these things. We allowed them divide us on the basis of religion and ethnicity. And it doesn't matter that the north is predominantly Muslim and I'm a Christian. We are all Nigerian. We allow our government get away with serial incompetence. It also stands as a symbol that our country is certainly nowhere close to where we want to be as Nigerians. And that's why in the midst of the continuous crises and bombs and abductions, we have stuck with that symbol of these 276 girls. Because for us, if those girls are brought back home, then a bit of faith we have in our country and its future can begin to be restored.
Werman: Nigerian journalist and lawyer, Chude Jideonwo. His latest book is "Are We the Turning Point Generation." Thank you.
Jideonwo: Thank you.