News / Africa

Official: Nigeria 'Moving Closer' to Finding Girls

Activists pressure Nigeria's government to find schoolgirls abducted in April. The Bring Back Our Girls initiative sponsored a rally in Lagos July 5, 2014.
Activists pressure Nigeria's government to find schoolgirls abducted in April. The Bring Back Our Girls initiative sponsored a rally in Lagos July 5, 2014.
Heather Murdock

After several arrests and reported victories against Boko Haram militants, the Nigerian military says it is "moving closer"’ to rescuing the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in April.  But critics are skeptical, saying the government is under enormous pressure to demonstrate action and that military might alone will not end the insurgency.

If fighting insurgents was a sport, the Nigerian government would appear to be on a winning streak.

Nigeria's military says in recent days its fight against Boko Haram insurgents has gained momentum, after forces “completely rooted out” militants from some forest areas in the northeast.
 

Young men described as foreign fighters are seen after being captured by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)Young men described as foreign fighters are seen after being captured by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)
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Young men described as foreign fighters are seen after being captured by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)
Young men described as foreign fighters are seen after being captured by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)

Nigeria National Information Center Coordinator Mike Omeri says President Goodluck Jonathan is doing everything he can to save the kidnapped girls, and recent arrests have brought the military closer to a rescue.
 
“He is working seriously to ensure the rescue and safety of those children.  He is also working hard to ensure that peace returns to all parts of this country,” he said.

The military reports arresting, among others, one of the masterminds of the abduction, recruiters for the newly-identified female wing of Boko Haram, and two foreign mercenaries.  The military also reports killing at least 97 terrorists and losing 12 soldiers, including an officer.  
 
Omeri says vigilante groups and average citizens are partially responsible for the recent success.
 
“Citizens have joined in the call from the president to intensify effort at finding a solution to the issue of insecurity in the northeast, particularly with reference to the rescue of our girls,” he said.

But in the past week, the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations reports insurgents have killed at least 134 people.  Also, more than 60 women, who were kidnapped in mid-June, escaped Boko Haram on their own.
 
Critics say the wave of reported military activity could simply be posturing in response to local and international pressure to show they are doing what they can to save the girls.
 

Ammunition seized by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)Ammunition seized by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)
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Ammunition seized by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)
Ammunition seized by the Nigerian military during an operation in Balmo forest. (Nigerian Ministry of Defense)

“Government are only beating about the bush," said  
Pastor Yohanna Buru, who heads the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation of Nigeria. "I know why I am saying this, because they tried it the other way wrong and now we are seeing the repercussion.”

Buru calls for peace talks, saying battling Boko Haram with military power alone simply increases the body count without addressing the problem.  He says northeastern Nigeria, where the insurgency began five years ago, is a region packed with unemployed, impoverished angry young people who feel their government has long abandoned them.
 
Ultimately, Buru says, neither the government nor the insurgents will ever truly "win" the fight.  With thousands of people killed this year alone, northeastern Nigeria’s economy and infrastructure in shambles, and hundreds of schoolchildren missing and hundreds more dead - in the end, he says, everyone loses.

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Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (4)
Comments
     
by: babalola biodun from: Lagos, Nigeria
July 09, 2014 1:18 AM
In any societ, it is very hard for any sect to defeat government. With intellectual plan, Nigeria will defeat boko haram, it just a matter of time.


by: Valentine from: Lagos.
July 08, 2014 7:28 PM
Pastor Buru has just forgotten that the government that abandoned the northern people were the northern presidents, starting from Tafawa Beluwa to Shagari to Buhari to Babangida to Abacha to Abdusalam Abubaka to Yaradua. All came from the north. During their tenure,they were very busy stealing money and packing them in banks at both home and abroad.
The present government has done more developmental projects than all the northern government put together and Mr Jonathan has helped in education of the popular northern bergers called Almajiri more than all the northern past presidents of Nigeria put together.
The northers are just doing all they can humanly to rubbish his government just because he is favouring their corrupt ways.


by: demian from: port harcourt
July 08, 2014 4:15 PM
Today Nigeria is a failure in all ramification not only in sport.A failed STATE.


by: Erik P from: Lisbon
July 08, 2014 1:46 PM
Not everyone looses. Those in government get a healthy pay packet and are protected, so they retire with a nice pension and can forget about the problems of the country. Isn't that what politics is for in Nigeria?

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