News / Africa

Parents of Kidnapped Nigerian Girls Meet With President

Martha Mark, the mother of kidnapped school girl Monica, cries as she displays her photo, in the family house, in Chibok, Nigeria, in this file photo from May 19, 2014.
Martha Mark, the mother of kidnapped school girl Monica, cries as she displays her photo, in the family house, in Chibok, Nigeria, in this file photo from May 19, 2014.
Heather Murdock

Grief-struck and angry parents met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday, demanding answers about efforts to rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants three months ago.

The April kidnapping of the girls from Chibok has rattled the Jonathan government, underscoring problems of funding and competency among Nigerian security forces. It also highlighted the potency of threat from the group Boko Haram, which has terrorized much of northeastern Nigeria.

About 200 people from Chibok traveled to the capital Abuja, about 500 miles to the southwest, to meet with Jonathan at the presidential office. More than 50 girls who escaped the militants shortly after their abduction were also among the group.  

Government officials refused to let reporters talk to the parents at the site afterward, though Western and local news reports quoted participants as saying it was an emotional meeting.

“Mr. President’s primary concern is one, to ensure the release of the girls. And also secondly to defend the integrity of the Nigerian state, and that is why the operation against terror is a continuous one, it is a determined one,” presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said. “And no part of Nigeria will be allowed to be over taken by terrorism.”

Tuesday’s meeting was re-scheduled from last week, when a smaller group of parents refused to meet Jonathan, saying they wanted a larger group to represent their community, among other reasons.  The Nigerian government blamed activists, accusing them of coercing the families to pull out of the meeting to make Jonathan look bad politically. 

Boko Haram, an increasingly well-organized group that has vowed to fight against what it sees as insidious Western influences, has ratcheted up its terror campaign in recent years. At least 2,000 people have been killed this year alone.

The April 14 abduction of the schoolgirls stunned Nigerians and sparked a viral Internet campaign called “#BringBackOurGirls” that highlighted the girls’ plight and the threat posed by Boko Haram.

Over the weekend, Nigerian media reported that the region of Damboa, which neighbors Chibok, had been overrun by Boko Haram. Militants reportedly hoisted black flags over the town on Friday after killing more than 100 people and burning houses.

Abati denied those reports, as did a Nigerian military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade.

"The Nigerian military will not concede any portion of this country to terrorists or any such group. We are farming out our deployments in the entire general area," he said. "Our patrols are also active and extending all their activities to reverse every form of insecurity that is noted around there."

Doctors, meanwhile, warn that the continuing terror campaign is causing lasting psychological scars on the Chibok community and elsewhere. Grief counselors have been trained to help the community, Dr. Danladi Saledrissa, but Boko Haram attacks have prevented those outside Chibok from moving in.

“The problem is overwhelming and the support is very limited for now,” he said. “But we want to believe that before time runs out more hands will come into it and we are going to have a proper counseling team that will help the community.”

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Joseph Wisgirda from: Davis CA
July 22, 2014 12:23 PM
Alright Goodluck, time to face the music and create some political and economic balance within your country. Your country does not support you, or Boko Haram would never have reared it's ugly head. Time to fess up start sharing your oil wealth, or you will only be digging a deeper hole for yourself. You need to examine the motive of these militants, and come up with a solution that does not involve greed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs