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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by: Felix from: Accra Ghana
July 16, 2014 6:53 AM
Well an old man that refuses to think critically and make sure he solves the worries of his children would have just anybody do it for them. Until African leaders see the sense in making sure that they help their people to meet their daily needs in life rather helping some leprechauns sitting far away rape this beloved continent of ours they will have little girls being used by some pig face of a fool sitting somewhere to determine for them what to do and be laughing stocks.

I was soo ashamed to have heard on BBC that this Malala girl was asking the Nigerian president to sit with the families. What nonsense and am very happy that the mothers of the girls have refused to sit with Jonathan when he accepted what the girl is asking him to do. It makes Nigerian woman look inferior in that this is telling them directly that their leader and husband brother father and uncle who is suppose to sit with them and bare with them in their condition will on do so on the orders of a girl not from Nigeria but from some far off country which in terms of importance Nigeria that prides itself as the Giant of Africa is more than and in actual factthe entire Africa is more important than any other continent on this planet because we carry the whole world on our backs. How stupid of another apology of a minister to have come on air on BBC to ridicule the actions of the women not to meet Jonathan.

What are we as Africans being made to look like? In the past it was them calling our dear continent a dark now we with our actions are grounding and buttressing such debasing nonsense. So what is this. Today they tell you Alkaeda in in the sahel and all of a sudden sends French invading forces to take over the whole of the Northern Mali and adjoining Sahara which according to recent studies has more than enough under ground water to cater for generations unborn and Stupid African leaders are sitting and watching it roll into effect.

In Response

by: Marie from: USA
July 16, 2014 10:07 AM
Felix, yours is the most sensible post I have read so far. I too was ashamed that it took a seventeen year old girl from Pakistan to tell the president to meet with the grieving families. Why did he not meet with them before? The families were right to cancel the meeting. They have the guts which the president doesn't have. He is only after his political ambitions. Shame on him!

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 8:15 AM
I understand you completely. Even though Malala's intentions are worthy, the women that are suffering their children should have had their voices heard the loudest, for the whole world, not just Malala's voice. What is horrible is that the world seems to care less about Africa, and the struggles of Africans. Malala is Pakistani, where are the rich and famous African-Americans!!!!! They fought and protested to have their identity as African, not to be called Black Americans anymore. OK. Now they are African-Americans, where are they???

African-Americans are the richest and most liberated Africans in any part of any nation in the world, even Beyonce was ranked the #1 most powerful woman in the world. Has she come to Nigeria for your little girls? Oprah Winfrey is the richest African woman in the world, she could by an Army!!!! Has she come to Nigeria?? Malala has no connection to Africa, except to be victimized because she is a girl.

Even when Michael Jackson did charities for Africans, other African-Americans wouldn't help him. Mostly white people. Even in my country, the US, Black people refer to themselves as the "African Community." What community?


by: jane from: Ghana
July 16, 2014 6:12 AM
Everything is in the hand of the Almighty, lets pray for his response to this calamity.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 8:23 PM
This is the same words spoken by the Jews in Germany while the Nazis were chopping, raping, gassing, and executing them! Why put anything into God's hands, when we can handle these animals ourselves!!!!! This should be put into every Nigerians' hands! Not God's. This should be in all Africans' hands to hunt and destroy this child-molesting disease called Boko Haram!!!


by: Matthew from: Abuja
July 16, 2014 5:17 AM
Their refusal to meet the President who has lost much sleep as a result of this incident only shows that they do not exist which goes further to underscore the speculation that the incident did not really occur but a mere fabrication to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan. It is rather unfortunate. The soul of the lives this has claimed will endlessly Haunt every body that has in one way or the other fueled these crisis. Mr. President please refuse to be distracted. The Lord is your strength.Long live Nigeria. Nigeria must survive in Jesus name. Amen

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 17, 2014 3:00 AM
Holy smokes, Jesus boy! Have you seriously lost your Christian mind!!!! You pray for the best for Goodluck, but deny the girls were kidnapped. Do all Christians a favor, and denounce Jesus!!!!
This guy is the perfect example of how religions and politics are destroying humanity! Boko Haram has threstened to kill these girls, or sell them to slavery, if Nigeria takes action against them. But this religious lunatic is denying the girls were ever taken! Hey Matthew, the Devil is laughing hysterically, and Jesus is embarrassed. Thought you should know.

In Response

by: Joe from: USA
July 16, 2014 7:52 AM
How can you say this could be a fabrication .? 300 moms crying out for their daughters . You need to get Goodluck out of his office and meet the moms to assure them their daughters are coming home unless he and his wife are involved in the abductions


by: FLOSSY FAVOUR from: LAGOS NIGERIA
July 16, 2014 4:24 AM
I just wonder what is wrong with our Jonathan and his spokesman Dr. Okupe. Whether the rallies are politically motivated or the Chibok parents are being influenced not to receive or be received by Jonathan after 93 days and only after Malala's plea to him is inconsequential. The questions are Were these girls kidnapped by Boko Haram 93 days ago? The answer is YES. Have they been found? The answer is NO. Please they should just go and bring back our girls and stop all this nonsense they are talking about. This issue will not go away until those girls are found. Families are in pain and they are talking about hijack by the opposition. Haba! If the so called opposition hijack will spur the government to bring back the girls, all well and good.
Angry Nigerian


by: Nikki
July 16, 2014 4:21 AM
What do you expect from "the clueless president"? He wants to meet with the families now? After 3 months? And he wants to do it on his own soil, not theirs? Dear Lawd!


by: Peter from: United States
July 16, 2014 4:10 AM
President Jonathan should humble himself and go and see the families of the Kidnapped girls. It was because of the lack of adequate security under his rule that those girls were kidnapped.

In Response

by: IG from: Benin
July 16, 2014 7:56 AM
@Peter, you are talking nonsense. where is the girls and who is their parents? I grown up in Adamawa state very close to where they are talking about. The speculation is highly wrong no body is missing. Those girls you see was formed so there is not like adequate security. We have all it takes to get this girl out if that is true talk but it is a political. So say what you know.


by: Abaloku from: Lagos
July 16, 2014 4:02 AM
Why didn't he go to the village and visit the parents in the first plcae? He has all the resources at his disposal. He's the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Too Bad!
He's quest to see the parents of the missing girls on Malala's request show's how dumb he is. Malala please come back and ask him about our Missing $20m, tell him stealing is corruption, tell him the school girls and Nigerians as well need light...


by: tony savage from: jos- nigeria
July 16, 2014 1:05 AM
I wonder if those asking that the president should visit Chibok will be able to sleep if any thing happens to him there.

In Response

by: Rita from: Abuja
July 16, 2014 8:46 AM
@Sam and Chris Morgan, I doubt you are Nigerians. You think if Jonathan is murdered in the North, the south-south will sit on its thumb and 'siddon look'? I think you guys should google what started the Burundi and First World Wars.

In Response

by: sam from: Enugu
July 16, 2014 7:20 AM
You are not serious, Who will loose sleep because something happened to him?


by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 15, 2014 9:35 PM
Where are the Nigerian commentators? They are all over this VOA site, but never in issues about their own home!!! Where are you, your little girls need you!!!!!!!!!!!

In Response

by: chris morgan from: Lagos
July 16, 2014 7:12 AM
@ tony savage, am really surprised at your comment. Where do you think from? "if anything happens to him there" Please can you tell us what you are thinking will happen to the president if he decides to visit Chibok . If the president can not visit Chibok on account of fear of his life, then i tell surely that there was a country called Nigeria.

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