News / Africa

Nigerian Clerics Call for Talks to Rescue Missing Girls

A video from Boko Haram claims to show the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls wearing full-length hijabs and praying in an undisclosed location, in a screengrab taken May 12, 2014.
A video from Boko Haram claims to show the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls wearing full-length hijabs and praying in an undisclosed location, in a screengrab taken May 12, 2014.
Heather Murdock
Some religious leaders in northern Nigeria are calling on the government to negotiate with Boko Haram militants for the release of the girls kidnapped last month.

They say military efforts to rescue the girls have failed and an international coalition is unlikely to succeed where local authorities cannot.  

Nigerians have debated the wisdom of peace talks with Boko Haram militants for years.

Officials frequently say they are willing to negotiate but they also say they can’t negotiate with terrorists or hold a dialogue with “ghosts” -- a reference to the secretive nature of Boko Haram's leaders.
 
Boko Haram
 
  • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
  • Self-proclaimed leader is Abubakar Shekau
  • Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009
  • Has killed thousands since 2010
  • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
  • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
This week Boko Haram said it would release some of the nearly 300 schoolgirls it kidnapped in exchange for imprisoned members. Officials originally said they would consider all options.

But on Wednesday, Britain's Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan "made it very clear that there will be no negotiation" with Boko Haram.

Abdullahi Bayero, spokesperson for the Supreme Council of Shariah in Nigeria, says the military has failed to rescue the girls but dialogue might save them.  

“Formerly the government has said ‘You cannot deal with a ghost. You don’t know whom you are dealing with. They are doing guerilla wars. They are doing this. They are doing that,’" Bayero said. "Now in the infinite mercy of God we know where they are.”   

Even if the girls are rescued, he says, without negotiations, the circumstances surrounding Boko Haram's emergence remain and the group will continue to thrive.
This photo taken from video provided by Nigeria's Boko Haram network on May 12, 2014, shows the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau.This photo taken from video provided by Nigeria's Boko Haram network on May 12, 2014, shows the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau.
x
This photo taken from video provided by Nigeria's Boko Haram network on May 12, 2014, shows the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau.
This photo taken from video provided by Nigeria's Boko Haram network on May 12, 2014, shows the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau.


Boko Haram began as a fundamentalist sect in the early 2000s, becoming violent in 2009. Bayero says its anti-government and anti-Western ideology took root in part because most people in northeastern Nigeria live in abject poverty.

Boko Haram has now grown into an extremist insurgency, killing thousands of people, including hundreds of schoolchildren. The fact that the government cannot protect the public causes feelings of distrust, says Bayero.

“Now the government has to understand, to know what their responsibility on their citizens," he said. "What is the right of the people that they are governing? What is their right to live as a country? In as long as you can allow people to be killing, there is insecurity, of course it has to cause all these issues.”

Other northern religious leaders say the Boko Haram insurgency has been described to the public in a partial and confusing way, especially in connection to the kidnapped girls.

Pastor Yohanna Buru, who heads from the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation of Nigeria in the northern city of Kaduna, says the public still doesn’t know exactly how many girls are missing or what is being done to rescue them.

He backs the idea of a swap to release the girls.

“Now, he [Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau] said that they should release their colleagues for an exchange with these ladies," Buru said. "Why won’t the government do that? They should do it if they’re doing that in good faith and if they really want dialogue.”

This week several countries and the United Nations pledged to help Nigeria rescue the girls and fight Boko Haram.

On Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Aminu Wali expressed his appreciation for the foreign assistance but warned that amid high hopes for the girls’ safe return, Nigerians need to manage their expectations.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: cde brighton nyoni from: gauteng
May 19, 2014 7:26 AM
i think the exchange dea'l will work,hence bokos have girls.i pledge strategies to rescue the girls.othrwise its gona be war.involve russian and zimbabwean militia and private intelligence.ths is a small issue,we want girls back !willing to join a army for girl return

by: Somewhere in nigeria from: Nigeria
May 18, 2014 2:02 AM
We moslem knew that, these was a plan to distroy the image of islam and the B.H was never a moslem. Sooner everything will expose.

by: VeritéPure from: Canada
May 17, 2014 8:33 PM
You negotiate with someone who has a minimum of rationality. Boko Haram has shown time and again that they are not in that category and qualify only for a serious whipping. I mean... in what universe does it makes any sense that children should be used as bet to make one's points heard? If anything at all, it has aroused the fire of the whole world against them. #DownWithBoko

by: Ogejuma from: Lagos
May 17, 2014 4:14 AM
The Borno state Governor, should help the foreign and home based team with solid information to enable them work with speed

by: ali baba from: new york
May 16, 2014 5:12 PM
negotiation with terrorist is a bad idea. It gives the wrong message that terrorist goal can be achieved by violence. we should have aggressive plan to stop them .Unfortuenly the collapse of Libya and its arsenal can be moved to big Sahara and reach to counties like Mali, Niger and Northern part OF Nigeria. there is road that cross Sahara and can reach these countries and no police nor army to stop military equipment to move from Libya to Islamic terrorist in these countries

by: Anonymous
May 16, 2014 3:27 PM
Well, it is the work of the government to save their citizens in their country.for me, I think they should call on other outside countries like,US,UK and so on for help to us secure

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs