News / Africa

Families of Kidnapped Girls Refuse to Meet With Nigerian President

FILE - Activists attend a "Bring Back Our Girls" rally to pressure Nigeria's government to find schoolgirls abducted in April, Lagos, July 5, 2014.
FILE - Activists attend a "Bring Back Our Girls" rally to pressure Nigeria's government to find schoolgirls abducted in April, Lagos, July 5, 2014.
Heather Murdock

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday promised the Pakistani girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai that he would meet with families of the girls held captive by Boko Haram militants for the past three months.

The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday in Abuja, but families of the missing girls canceled at the last minute.

Doyin Okupe, a public affairs assistant to the president, blames Bring Back Our Girls, an activist group that rallies almost every day to demand the girls’ rescue.

“My priority and responsibility and duty is the safe return of these girls," said a statement released by Jonathan. "Unfortunately, political forces within the Nigerian chapter of Bring Back Our Girls have decided to take this opportunity to play politics with this situation and the grief of the parents of these girls.”

Accusations leveled

Okupe accuses Bring Back Our Girls of being in league with opposition politicians seeking to unseat Jonathan in elections next year, echoing government accusations that the organization is playing “shameful and disgusting games.” A government statement also repeated a promise to find the girls and end the Boko Haram insurgency. 

But activists gathered at a Bring Back Our Girls rally in Abuja say the decision has nothing to do with politics.

Mia Muna, one of about 20 activists who arrived to chant and hear speeches in the rain, says families of the Chibok girls canceled the meeting on their own, partially due to security concerns.

She says they were insulted that Malala had to ask the president to see them, rather than having Jonathan make the offer on his own.  

“We did not even need to tell them not to go," said Muna. "They themselves refused to go because they fear that if they are shown on TV all the time, these Boko Haram will still come after them. That was the fear.”

Wrong target

After the rally, Jeff Okoroafor, founder of Opinion Nigeria, an activist group that is part of the Bring Back Our Girls network, says the parents wanted to see the president, but felt it was wrong to visit him in the capital when he has not visited them in their home village, Chibok.

He blames the government for trying to distract the public from the real issue of the missing girls by going after Bring Back Our Girls.

“The truth is the government for a very long time has been coming up with a lot of excuses. The government has been coming up with a lot of distractions for the group," he said. "But the world can testify to what we are doing. We are open and that is why we are in an open space. Our conduct has been very civil.”

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Comments page of 2
by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 17, 2014 3:06 AM
@Tony Okonkwo, USA...............

Why don't you go to Nigeria, I'll gladly pay, and I want you to talk to all those suffering parents. Please. I beg you!!!! Tell all those parents that Goodluck Jonathan has been calm and thoughtful, and Boko Haram are just pawns struggling for power. Please do this for all of us. I will pay first-class. Come on homeboy, stand behind your words of wisdom!
If any Nigerian is reading this response to this nutcase's comment, if I did buy him a ticket to Nigeria, he would just run straight to Boko Haram and ask "do I get a discount when I purchase 3 or more girls?"

by: Bello Bichi from: Colorado Springs CO 80918
July 16, 2014 12:00 PM
Too little too late Mr. President, it is of no use meeting the parents of the missing girls three month after abduction of their daughters. There is nothing you are going to tell the parents or the Nigerian that would convince the world that you and your so called democratic government would are really serious about rescuing the abducted girls. Three month after the abduction of these young girls you could not visit Chibok to sympathize with the Chobok people, the people and government of Borno State, the Nigerians or the World at large since you claim that this is a global issue, this is really lack of concern from you and your government. Even if these girls are brought to their families their life would never be the same because they have been psychologically, mentally and physically traumatized and no psychiatric could cure them to normality.

It is nonsense for Mr Doyin Okupe or any federal government official to blame the bring back our girls organization for the Chiboks dis-honoring your invitation to meet with them. To many Nigerians bring back our girls organization has more concern and care about these girls than the government. The priority of any responsible government is its people. The everyday bombing and killing of innocent Nigerians is a sign of irresponsibility in governance. If not in Nigeria I don’t think there is any nation on earth that its people could tolerate this type of atrocities by its leaders.

I strongly support the Chibok people for not meeting with the president, if Abuja could not go to Chibok why should Chibok go to Abuja. I vote for you to serve me, so why should I be your slave. Many Nigerians now will agree with me in support of Senator John McCain that permission is not needed from Nigeria for US to send its troops to rescue these girls, I also agree that the United States should not be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Good luck Jonathan to rescue these girls because this fits in to the United Nations category of crimes against humanity which gives the United States the absolute permission to enter Nigeria with or without permission from a government that failed its people to stop this crime.

by: Mike
July 16, 2014 10:19 AM
It takes this head of the country almost four months to meet with the innocent girls parents, how much it would take a head of the household to search and show concern about his missing child?. These parents have being dealing with this horrible situation without mr president, and I'm sure they can continue dealing with it, until those girls are back home safely.

by: Kabiru tsakuwa from: Abuja
July 16, 2014 10:09 AM
Whoever said that these girls were not kidnapped must be living in some elien planet or sufficiently under the influence of intoxicant.The trouble with Africa is that of bad leaders who are corrupt and lack capacity for good thinking.

This president has no reason remaining in power beyond 2015 since he failed in virtually every aspect of governace, the least of which is ptotection of life.Nigeria has never had it so bad, that everything has been turn upside down.

unfortunately, some nitwits who cannot think beyond their noses are looking at the issue of failure of this presidency from ethnic, sectional and religious premise. Gladly, the poverty entrenched in the land amid opulence of the few around the corridor of power knew no colour, race or tribe. Its been all encompassing. May God deliver our country from the current bunches of failures.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 8:34 PM
Well said!!!! For those who deny that these girls were kidnapped......... are those who wish to have their pick of the kidnapped girls, like the way Badluck Jonathan did!

What is this guy Jonathan doing will so much of Nigeria's money, and not using his military to crush this disease? Nigeria's military is way more stronger and better equipped than these child-molesting animals!!!!!

by: Tony Okonkwo from: USA
July 16, 2014 8:46 AM
The truth is that the international press has got this all wrong. Every single soul in Nigeria knows this isn't a white/Black scenario, there are large swarts of grey mixed in. Depending on whom you talk with in Nigeria, there will be varies perceptions on why there is so much insecurity. However we know that Religion is a tiny sliver of the reason Nigeria is in the news these days. There is a lot of Politics, Personal ambition and tribal politics involved. The so called militants are just pawns in the game of Northern/ Southern struggle for Power. The West just looks at issues with shades that are not just applicable in this case. Jonathan in my book has been very calculative and unlike most African leaders has been calm and thoughtful.

by: Captain Gerri White from: Mina
July 16, 2014 8:35 AM
Well as an old man, I suggested Mr. President to stay on his seat to permit our military and police to continue with their full investigation. I’m well understood that Nigeria Hausa has many ways to overthrow somebody on seat. There is nothing one can do concern this issue unless we speak truth within ourselves. Unity can bring progress in Nigeria. So many years ago. Hausa has been on the power doing whatever they wishes to do in Nigeria as key the leaders, can you imagine just a question of 3 years and some month a new government was given to eastern zone difference kind of atrocity is going on in Nigeria. If I were the president of Nigeria all the past leaders from Local government to states and federal government from northern region, I will apprehend them responsible for this calamity. Mr. President, the lord is your straight fear not, your God is greater than their gods. You are stronger than what is fighting you.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 8:28 AM
I am an American, my president is African-American. We have the most powerful military the world has ever known, equipped with every known race in the world! Michelle Obama was holding a sign in the report #1956902 on VOA, showing such sad concern for your little girls. Has she asked her husband, who controls the most powerful military that can crush Boko Haram animals in just one day, if he would help your girls? If it were their little girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram 3 months ago, you would be asking people today who was Boko Haram. Obama would have obliterated Boko Haram in 3 hours, not talking about it 3 months later!

The wrold is in an outrage because Israel is bombing Gaza, and Russia had invaded Ukraine................why isn't the world even more furious with these child-molesting animals kidnapping hundreds of little girls!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY?

Come on Obama, why don't you care about your heritage???? Don't give me this USA doesn't interfere garbage!!!! When America was mostly white, and black people had no rights, we went to war to save Europe! White America waged a costly and lang war to save the white people of Europe! Now that it is no longer white-Anerica, and we have an African-American president, we need to take action for these little girls, not because they are Nigerian, not because they are Chinese, and not because they are is because they are LITTLE GIRLS!!!!!! Kidnapped by animals! They need to be hunted and killed like the animals they are!

by: Dave O from: Lagos
July 16, 2014 8:23 AM
A drowning person doesn’t discriminate against anything in the water that he perceive could save his life. Our mothers have no moral justification refusing to meet The President and Commander in Chief of The Federal republic of Nigeria. The President has his reason calling on them. He is not inviting them for another round of abduction, but for presidential reason. He who called knows better than the called. Honour the President first before any further action. Every body loves children and our girls; everybody is praying for their safe return and re-union with their families. A bird at hand worth more than a million in the bush. Hear the President. Act wisely. God bless Nigeria

by: Kwasi from: Accra
July 16, 2014 8:16 AM
I am very distrustful of Goodluck Jonathan. When children have been kidnapped, all he thinks about is his political future. Are these not some of the reasons why Africa is still lacking behind in everything? These Boko Haram thugs have been killing and kidnapping people, but Goodluck was able to dish out over a million dollars for PRO work. He doesn't warrant the name 'President'
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 9:08 PM
Right on! No one is helping these little girls. Not even the USA, my great nation!!!!! We have an African-American president. We have an African crisis!!!! Especially dealing with children!!! All our world leaders care only for their careers, and not the 99.999999999% of the world! If these were girls from wealthy-influential family's, we wouldn't be discussing this topic after 3 months!!!!! It would have been resolved that same day!!! But our leaders don't care about the common people, the 99.999999999% of the world's population! None of them care.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 8:03 AM
Why would he need to visit Chibok? He already got his pick of the little girls he wanted! That's right, I said that! I am saying that Goodluck was a part of this tragedy!!! Over 3 months and your Goodluck Jonathan hasn't done anything worthy for those precious little girls!!!!! He is Badluck for these girls! He is Badluck for Nigeria. It's time the Nigerian men rise up, and for just 2 days, band together and destroy Boko Haram! Let the world know: "if you mess with one Nigerian, you mess with ALL NIGERIANS!!!"

Boko Haram has gotten stronger, and they celebrate each day in your country. They are using the internet, to post their victories. Boko Haram means "Western education is sin." The internet is a Western invention!!!! They call themselves this stupid name just to make people think they are politically driven. They kidnapped a bunch of little girls, there's no politics for that kind of action, it's just a bunch of child-molesting animals!!!!
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