‘What It Was Like Writing About The Dapchi Girls’ — Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu
Despite its importance, the details surrounding the Dapchi abduction incident had been overlooked by the press for many years. Hauwa was presented with an opportunity to change this and made the best out of it.
Before embarking on the trip to Yobe, Northeast Nigeria, Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu had always wondered why, unlike the Chibok schoolgirls’ abduction which attracted widespread condemnation, the Dapchi incident barely ruffled any feathers, let alone stir action from the authorities.
Hauwa, a lawyer and journalist with HumAngle Media, covers migration and displacement in the Sahel and greater West Africa.
According to her, the Dapchi girls and their parents were neglected, which was the only push she needed to tell their stories.
The abduction had taken place on Feb. 19, 2018, when militants of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi and went away with about 110 schoolgirls who had been in their dormitories.
Hauwa says her greatest joy from reporting the story was the beautiful feedback she got from people, telling her how important the work was.
She, however, also had one major regret. While in the northeastern state, she had wanted to cover the 2014 Buni Yadi massacre, but couldn’t for safety reasons. “What better time to do it than now instead of going back to Abuja and then coming back at a later time,” she wondered.
Hauwa’s reports were brilliant, observed her colleague Murtala Abdullahi, because they “brought to light the circumstances surrounding the abduction and release of the Dapchi girls”.
“Before the reports, there wasn’t much public information on what led to the release,” said the Head of Armed Violence and Climate Security at HumAngle.
He applauded Hauwa for her doggedness in beaming light on the abduction, especially issues that had previously been under the radar. “Don’t forget her bravery in travelling to Dapchi to see, hear, and narrate the plight of the victims.”
This is also the position of GIS specialist Mansur Mohammed.
“Usually when things like this happen, people tend to forget about the incident, especially after the victims are released,” he observed.
“Hauwa did a spontaneous report. I like how she pursued the story though the girls had been released. She told us how the abductors had instructed them to get married. I feel like it is rather an endless journey for the girls because their dreams had been cut short.”
Ruqayya Sa’eed, a multimedia reporter, said the series not only chronicled the life of the girls with the ISWAP terrorists, but also signalled how conflicts should be reported beyond numbers.
“They are excellently documented reports, which isn’t surprising considering the person that wrote them. That story needed to be out there so people would know the kind of government that’s leading them.”
Hauwa Shaffii wants to tell more incredible stories of the ripple effect of the decade-old insurgency in Nigeria’s Northeast. And deeply reporting the Dapchi abduction, one she had been passionate about for a long time, was the height of it.
In her little corner, when Hauwa is not telling these stories, she stays in her hotel room and writes.
Reported by: Bukar Hawwa Mohammed
Edited by: Abiodun Jamiu, ‘Kunle Adebajo
Read Hauwa’s four-part series on the Dapchi abduction through the links below: