BBC News – Nigeria abducted schoolgirls: President to visit Chibok

Nigerian policemen walk past Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state (21 April 2014)The kidnapping of the schoolgirls from Chibok has outraged the international community

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to visit the north-eastern town where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted, officials have said.

Nothing was seen of the girls for almost a month after they were taken from Chibok by Boko Haram militants.

But on Monday the group released a video showing more than 100 of them and offering an exchange for prisoners.

The president has come under pressure over his government’s failure to rescue the girls, but has ruled out a swap.

On Thursday, relatives of the girls called for their unconditional release.

But the UK’s Africa Minister Mark Simmonds said Mr Jonathan had “made it very clear that there will be no negotiation” at a meeting on Wednesday.

Screen grab of video released by Boko Haram showing abducted Nigerian schoolgirls (12 May 2014)A video emerged on Monday showing about 130 of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting Koranic verses

President Jonathan’s visit to Chibok has not been officially confirmed but sources in the presidency told the BBC he would visit the town to assess the situation in Chibok and meet parents of the schoolgirls and other key officials.

He has been criticised for not visiting the town until now – more than a month after the girls were seized.

The president will then travel to Paris to take part in a summit convened by French President Francois Hollande to discuss Boko Haram.

The leaders of Nigeria’s neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad – are scheduled to attend the summit on Saturday, which will also include representatives from the UK, US and EU.

A statement said delegates at the meeting will “discuss fresh strategies for dealing with the security threat posed by Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in west and Central Africa”.

‘Troubling atrocities’

Meanwhile, US officials on Thursday criticised the speed of Nigeria’s response to the threat from Boko Haram.

Alice Friend, director for African affairs at the US defence department, said its security forces had been “slow to adapt with new strategies and new tactics”.

Aftermath of Boko Haram attack

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John Simpson assesses the threat of Boko Haram

She also said the US was unable to offer aid to Nigeria’s military because of “troubling” atrocities perpetrated by some units during operations against Boko Haram.

“We cannot ignore that Nigeria can be an extremely challenging partner to work with,” Ms Friend said.

State of emergency

US drones and surveillance aircraft have been deployed to assist in the search for the schoolgirls, while the UK has sent a military team to the capital, Abuja, to work alongside US, French and Israeli experts.

The lower house of Nigeria’s parliament, the House of Representatives, approved an extension of the state of emergency in the north-east states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa on Thursday.

Nigerian soldiers on patrol in the north of Borno state - 5 June 2013A US official said its cooperation with Nigeria’s army was limited by its links to “troubing” atrocities

President Jonathan had requested a six-month extension, calling the security situation in the region “daunting” and saying he was concerned by the mounting loss of life among civilians.

The state of emergency, which still needs to be approved by the Senate, gives the military widespread powers such as detaining suspects, imposing curfews and setting up roadblocks.

On Thursday, there have been reports of fresh attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in Borno state.

A witness told the BBC’s Hausa Service that there had been explosions in Gamboru Ngala, were some 300 people were killed last week in a massacre blamed on Boko Haram.


16 May 2014 | 8:58 am – Source:

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