Monday, May 5, 2014

Nigeria: Roughly 200 School Girls to be Sold by Boko Haram to Islamist Rebels for Marriage

According to Reuters, the leader of Boko Haram on Monday (May 5) threatened to sell more than 200 schoolgirls his Islamist militant group kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria last month.

Boko Haram militants stormed an all-girl secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, on April 14, and packed the teenagers, who were taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in a video, chuckling as he stands in front of an armored personnel carrier with two masked militants wielding AK-47s on either side of him.

Boko Haram, seen as the dominant security threat in Nigeria, Africa's leading energy producer, is growing bolder and extending its reach. The kidnapping occurred on the day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja, the first attack on the capital in two years.

The group's name means "Western education is sinful" and Shekau in the video makes reference to the fact that the girls were undergoing Western education.

The militants, who say they are fighting to reinstate a medieval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, carried out a second bomb attack more than two weeks later in the same area, killing 19 people and wounding 34 in the suburb of Nyanya. 

COMMENT:  The truly sad side of this hostage-taking is that the young girls have been in Boko Haram's hands for upwards of three weeks with not one clue as to where the girls have been taken.

By now, it is presumed that most of the girls have already been married off and tainted for life.

Although the government purports to convince parents that the girls will be found, nothing is further from the truth.

The girls' abduction has been hugely embarrassing for the government and threatens to overshadow its first hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa on May 7-9. 

The apparent powerlessness of the military to prevent the attack or find the girls in three weeks has led to widespread protests in the northeast and in Abuja and Lagos.

On Sunday (May 4), authorities arrested a leader of a protest staged last week in Abuja that had called on them to do more to find the girls, further fueling outrage against Nigerian security forces.

Naomi Mutah Nyadar was arrested by police after a meeting she and other campaigners had with President Goodluck Jonathan's wife, Patience, concerning the abducted girls. So much for transparency.

Nyadar was taken to Asokoro police station, near the presidential villa, said fellow protester Lawan Abana, whose two nieces are among the abductees. She was released later on Monday and police said she had merely been invited in for an interview.

A presidency source said Nyadar had been detained because she had falsely claimed to be the mother of one of the missing girls. Abana said she had made no such claim.

In a statement, Patience Jonathan denied local media reports that she had ordered Nyadar's arrest, but urged the protesters in Abuja to go home, the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria said.

Protests continued in Abuja on Monday and spread to Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub in the southwest and geographically as far away from the region troubled by Boko Haram as possible.

Protests could become a major headache for the government if they continue and coincide with the WEF event, where security arrangements will involve some 6,000 troops.

At least two people were killed in an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants on a military police outpost in northern Cameroon on Monday (May 5), a government spokesman said. The group has been using Cameroon's Far North region as a base for attacks in Nigeria.

Britain and the US have both offered to help track down the mass-hostage-taking, but neither has released details as to how they would proceed in doing so.