News / Africa

Nigerian President Makes Promise to Malala to Rescue Kidnapped Girls

Malala Urges Nigerian President to Meet With Kidnapped Girls' Parentsi
July 15, 2014 2:08 AM
On a visit to Abuja, Nigeria, the Pakistani schoolgirl and education campaigner Malala Yousafzai has called on Nigeria's president to meet with the parents of the school girls abducted by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. More than 200 girls are being held in the northeastern part of the country, where Boko Haram is waging an insurgency against government forces. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London
Related video report by Henry Ridgwell, "Malala Urges Nigerian President to Meet With Kidnapped Girls' Parents"
Heather Murdock

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised Malala Yousafzai -- a Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban on her way to school -- that his government will rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.  The promise came at a special meeting in Abuja Monday, exactly three months after the girls were taken.  Boko Haram has also released a new video mocking activists calling for the return of the girls.

Three months ago in the Nigerian town of Chibok, nearly 300 schoolgirls climbed into trucks manned by men in fatigues.  When the men started burning down the schoolhouse, the girls knew they were not, as they had said, soldiers rescuing them from a coming attack.
More than 50 girls escaped that night but more than 200 remain missing.
"What are we demanding?  #Bring back our girls now and alive!  What are we demanding?  Bring back our girls now and alive!" protesters shouted during a rally.
In Abuja, activists in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign still rally each day to demand their rescue.
Boko Haram, the insurgent group that has killed thousands of people this year alone, claims to be holding the girls and has threatened to sell them as "slaves."
After her meeting with President Jonathan Monday, Malala said the president promised the girls will be rescued.
"The president fortunately promised that he will do something for these girls," Malala said. "And he promised me that the girls will be returned as soon as possible."
Visiting Nigeria on her 17th birthday, Malala is an activist for girls' education.  Two years ago, the Taliban shot her in the head for her work in Pakistan, drawing international outrage and making her famous worldwide.
Malala says she spoke to some of the schoolgirls that escaped, adding that although they are free, they are still suffering.
"I spoke to him about those girls whom I met yesterday, and who were telling me they cannot go to school," Malala said.  "They have dreams. They want to become doctors, engineers and teachers but the government is not providing them any facility.  They also need health facilities.  They also need security but the government is not doing anything."
Sitting next to Malala, presidential spokesperson Reuben Abati defended the government's record on education.
"This administration has spent more on education than any other administration before now," Abati said. "Education is one of President Jonathan's main priority areas."
But Malala says more than 10 million children have no access to education in Nigeria, and calls on the international community as well as the Nigerian government to address the problem.
However much of northeastern Nigeria has been under emergency rule for more than a year and authorities say they simply don't have the manpower to secure all the schools.  Hundreds of children have already been killed in their dormitories.
In a newly-released video, Abubakar Shekau, the man who claims to lead Boko Haram, grins as he mocks the #BringBackOurGirls activists.
"Bring back our girls?  Aww-oo.  Bring back our army.  Bring back our army," he taunted.
He's referring to his repeated demand for the release of Boko Haram prisoners.
In the video, Shekau also claims responsibility for last month's bombings in Lagos and the Nigerian capital of Abuja, and he threatens Muslim clerics that preach against extremism.

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Comment Sorting
by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 17, 2014 8:17 AM
That's not entirely true. Goodluck said he will release the girls he kept, the ones that Boko selected for him.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 14, 2014 1:05 PM
A coward in an equally cowardly organization. If Shekau was a man and really has a troop and not a gang of robbers robbing girls, kidnapping school children, breaking into banks and private homes to steal money, why do his fighters hide themselves. That is to show that he has no army - as he calls them - they are only hired thugs and will disperse as soon they meet a strong opposition - like in Cameroon. It is the press' way of glorifying banditry; instead of showing that boko haram is a set of hungry hoodlums and gangsters who use every available means to rob innocent citizens, they elevate if higher status than it can ever achieve, even though its all evil.

The promise to release the girls, you wish that the president said what he is capable of doing.

There is no country in the world where terrorism is permitted, yet boko haram, without a territory of its own, has access to military transport vehicles (armored personnel carrier) and could pose for photograph - are we sure these people are not hibernating in our military barracks, and perhaps enjoying our taxpayers' money too? As yet the foreign military assistance seems to have yielded no result, is it true that they mellow down after realizing that the issue of the kidnapped schoolgirls is more political than realistic? What is going on and what is the Nigerian government not telling us? Do we still have investigative journalism anywhere? Can the Nigerian case be independently investigated and results made available so we, the expectant public, can stop speculating? Before we as Malala to join the #BringbackOurGirls# protest.

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