On the 14th of April ago insurgent group Boko Haram abducted 219 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, Northeast of Nigeria. The schoolgirls were writing their exams in a public government secondary school.
In the first days after the abduction, 57 of the girls managed to escape from their captors.
The mass abduction caught the attention of the international media, prompting prominent politicians and celebrities to publicly condemn the abduction.
Thousands of people joined the Twitter campaign #BringBackourGirls to raise awareness of the issue while countries such as the Britain, France and the US were billed to join Nigerian troops in the search, none really did.
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When other countries did start to help, they didn't get very far. The U.S. sent 80 troops in late May to coordinate an aerial search from neighboring Chad. Canada, France, Israel and the U.K. also sent special forces to Nigeria. But six weeks later, the Pentagon press secretary announced that the U.S. mission would be scaled back, saying: "We don't have any better idea today than we did before about where these girls are."
The troops are still in Chad and the U.S. has surveillance and reconnaissance flights looking for the girls each week. U.S. officials have expressed concern about sharing intelligence on Boko Haram given the Nigerian military's poor human rights record.
Five months and still counting, the girls have not been found. Until last week another girl was seen, abused, and reported pregnant in Mubi, Adamawa state.
Government's lack of effort
Although Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan vowed he would fight the insurgents and find the girls, he has been accused several times of not doing enough. However the government has defended its approach to the crisis and warned that a rescue effort might risk the girls' lives.
Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed his frustration at the inadequate negotiations between the government and the terrorists.
Boko Haram according to reports and insiders have asked for the release of some it's top commanders held by government in exchange for the girls.
However the figures that the group is willing to release also raises questions regarding the true state of the remaining girls.
And with Obasanjo saying "some of the girls will never return. Only those that would later get pregnant and the sect members would find it difficult to cater for the babies in the forest might be released." Looks like a death kneel on the Chibok girls.
In May, a Nigerian military official claimed he knew where the girls were being held. A month later, U.S. surveillance planes also reportedly spotted a group that officials believed to be the girls.
Stephen Davis, an Australian cleric and mediator, said in June that a deal to free the girls had fallen apart three different times in one month. He says that powerful people with "vested interests" are working to sabotage a deal, and he has accused Nigerian politicians of funding Boko Haram.
Residents in Chibok and many parts of the Northeast face the unrelenting threat of an attack by militants despite renewed military offensive.
Up to ten parents of the kidnapped girls have died of pressure induced illness.
Since April, Boko Haram claims to have taken over at least five towns in northeastern Nigeria, although the military says it has won some of these back.
The militant group has also kidnapped at least three more smaller groups of girls as well as dozens of boys and young men, some of whom were later rescued.
More than 2,100 people are reported to have been killed by Boko Haram since April 14, according to data from the Council on Foreign Relations. And during a span of 10 days in August, some 10,000 people were displaced by fighting in northeastern Nigeria.
Nigeria's military appears ill-equipped to deal with the challenge. Complaining of a lack of weapons, at least 40 Nigerian soldiers reportedly refused orders to fight Boko Haram in August. However the military has scored few points including it's killing of Bashir, a Shekau imposter.
Although Shekau appeared in a new video, the Nigerian Military insists they have killed the real Shekau
As the countdown towards the end of the year is barely two months, and general elections due in february in the West African nation, the question is will the Chibok girls be found before December.
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