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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines 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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs