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 had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared
into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.
The attack shocked Nigerians, who have been growing accustomed to
hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old
Islamist insurgency in the north.
"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.
"Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I
will carry out his instructions," he says.
Boko Haram, seen as the main security threat to 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
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.
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.
Nigerian officials had hoped the event would highlight their
country's potential as an investment destination since it became
Africa's biggest economy after a GDP recalculation in March.
PROTESTER DETAINED, THEN FREED
The apparent powerlessness of the military to prevent the attack or
find the girls in three weeks has led to protests in the northeast
and in Abuja and Lagos.
On Sunday, 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 fuelling outrage against the security forces.
Naomi Mutah Nyadar was picked up by police after a meeting she and
other campaigners held with President Goodluck Jonathan's wife,
Patience, concerning the girls.
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.
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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.
playing games. Don't use school children and women for
demonstrations again. Keep it to Borno, let it end there," the
agency quoted her as saying.
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.
Lagosians normally express a degree of shoulder-shrugging apathy
about the violence plaguing the north, but on Monday hundreds
gathered outside the Lagos state secretariat to demand security
forces do more to rescue the girls.
"This is the beginning. Until the girls are back, we will continue.
I think this is the first step and we will mobilize more and more
people," said Charlotte Obidairo of Youth Empowerment and
Development Nigeria, a non-governmental organization.
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, a government spokesman said. The group has been using
Cameroon's Far North region as a base for attacks in Nigeria.
In a televised "media chat" on Sunday, President Jonathan pledged
that the girls would soon be found and released, but admitted he had
no clue where they were.
"Let me reassure the parents and guardians that we will get their
daughters out," he said, adding extra troops had been deployed and
aircraft mobilized in the hunt for the girls.
Britain and the United States have both offered to help track down
the girls, but neither has given specifics.
(Additional reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing
by Janet Lawrence)
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