As news spread last week about the discovery of one of the missing “Chibok” schoolgirls, the Nigerian army announced, to little fanfare, the rescue of nearly 100 other women and children from the clutches of Boko Haram.
The rescue may not have made headlines at all if it hadn’t turned up Serah Luka, a captive initially believed to be yet another one of the “Chibok” teens still missing after a high-profile abduction in the spring of 2014.
The debate over whether Luka was or was not one of the 218 missing schoolgirls instantly overshadowed the rescue itself, drawing criticism on social media and from the army.
“We shouldn’t focus on whether she is one of the Chibok girls or not,” Brig. General Abubakar Rabe said. “The important thing is that we are pursuing Boko Haram and rescuing human beings on a daily basis. We should be allowed to concentrate on rescuing other people in our operations.”
The intense focus on the Chibok girls, driven by powerful advocacy campaigns, belies the scale of Boko Haram’s kidnapping operations and the progress the military is making in rescuing hundreds of women and children.