Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nigeria: Update--276 Young Nigerian Girls (Ages 16-18) Still Missing, Gov't Perceived as Impotent

According to The Associated Press,  the Nigerian government appears dysfunctional in its ability to locate the 276 girls between the ages of 16-18 who were abducted by Islamist rebels some three weeks ago.  

For clarification, the Nigerian government is attempting to find 276 kidnapped girls in a country roughly twice the size of the US state of California.

Three weeks later, the girls are still missing. At least two have died of snakebite, and about 20 others are ill, according to an intermediary who is in touch with their captors.

The girls' plight has drawn global attention to an escalating Islamic extremist insurrection that has killed more than 1,500 so far this year. 

Boko Haram, the name means "Western education is sinful," has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls. The British and US governments have expressed concern over the fate of the missing students, and protests have erupted in major Nigerian cities and in even in New York City. 

COMMENT: If anything, the abduction of so many young girls in such a large country seized by institutionalized corruption demands that the world's developed nations promptly act, providing that the government will accept their offer.

At approximately 2300 hours on April 14, a local government official, Bana Lawal, received a warning via cell phone. He was told that about 200 heavily armed militants in 20 pickup trucks and more than 30 motorcycles were headed toward his town.

Lawal alerted the fifteen soldiers guarding Chibok. He then roused sleeping residents and told them to flee into the bush and the nearby hills. The soldiers sent an SOS to the nearest barracks, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) away, an hour's drive on a dirt road. No help arrived.

When the rebels arrived two hours later, the scant number of soldiers fought vigorously for 1.5 hours, waiting for reinforcement...which never came. When their ammunition was exhausted, they fled into the bush.

The following day, Nigeria's Defense Ministry, which ostensibly protects 170 million Nigerians, put out a statement that all but eight of the 276 girls had been rescued. When the school principal denied it as a lie, the Ministry retracted its statement.

The Nigerian military says it is diligently searching for the girls, with extensive aerial surveillance. Yet, the large number of girls have reportedly disappeared.

Many soldiers have told the The Associated Press that they are demoralized, because Boko Haram is more heavily armed and better equipped, while they get little more than a meal a day.

Some of the kidnapped young girls have been forced into "marriage" with their Boko Haram abductors, sold for a nominal bride price of $12, according to parents who talked with villagers. Others have been taken across borders to Cameroon and Chad. Their accounts could not be verified, but forced child marriage is common in northern Nigeria, where it is allowed under Islamic law but not the country's Western-style constitution.