News / Africa

Tensions High in Nigeria as 'Bring Back Our Girls' Protests Dispersed

People demand for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest at Unity Park in Abuja, May 11, 2014.
People demand for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest at Unity Park in Abuja, May 11, 2014.
Heather Murdock
Tensions are high in Nigeria four weeks after hundreds of school girls were kidnapped by Islamist militants, as security forces break up protests demanding the rescue of the girls.  Authorities say they fear protests in the more volatile parts of Nigeria will spark sectarian violence. 

In the Nigerian capital of Abuja Sunday, protesters were calling for the rescue of the girls Sunday, shouting: "Bring back out girls now and alive!  What are we saying?   Bring back our girls now and alive!”

But the police intervened to disperse the crowd and the rally ended.   
 
Kaduna rally fails to materialize


Another weekend protest scheduled in Kaduna, a city known for sectarian violence, never happened.  After both mosques and churches were attacked, parts of the city are under 24-hour curfew and all protests are banned.  During the weekend, police occupied locations around the city where rallies were planned.
 
Protest organizer Ibrahim Garba Wala held a news conference after the rally failed to materialize.

“We were shocked even last night, the venue, which is Mutula Square, where we agreed that we are going to hold the protest was already dominated by security personnel with their tankers and their heavy machineries,” he said.

Wala says the weaponry on the streets of Kaduna this weekend would be better deployed in the northeast where security forces are searching for nearly 300 teenage girls, believed to be held hostage in the forest by Islamist militants known as Boko Haram.  
 
Kaduna city has long been a hotspot for political and community violence, and nearly a thousand people were killed there in post-election violence in 2011.  As presidential elections approach in 2015 Kaduna residents fear more bloodshed.  
 


 
Security crisis

In Kaduna, anger over general insecurity has intensified since the girls were kidnapped, says Wala.
 
“We are telling people to understand that the crisis in the northeast is not being perpetrated by the poor man.  It is being perpetrated by the politicians,” said Wala.
 
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
Security crises in Kaduna, part of Nigeria’s "Middle Belt" where the mostly Christian south meets the mostly-Muslim north is often attributed to politicians hiring thugs to intimidate or punish voters.  In the northeast, Boko Haram insurgents have killed thousands of people in the past five years, including hundreds of school children.  
 
The mid-April kidnapping sparked protests, in Nigeria and around the world, demanding the girls’ safe return.  Officially, the Nigerian government supports the protest movement.
 
Nigerian Police spokesperson Frank Mbah appeared Monday in Abuja.
 
“The position of the Nigerian police force is clear," said Nigerian Police spokesperson Frank Mbah Monday in Abuja. "Nigerians have got the right to peaceful assembly, to peaceful association, to peaceful protest as long they do so with the confines and boundaries of the law.”

In the past week, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, China and Israel have agreed to provide material support for the rescue effort, a task U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says will be a "huge challenge."

In a video distributed to journalists last week, the man who claims to lead Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, says his group is holding the girls as slaves to be sold as wives. 

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna 

 
  • Former French first ladies Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (left) and Valerie Trierweiler (right) stand with politicians and entertainment artists holding a banner that reads "Leaders, bring back our girls" during a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, May 13, 2014.
  • Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler stands near a placard that reads "Bring back our girls" during a demonstration to pressure government leaders to help search for the Nigerian schoolgirls, near the Eiffel Tower, Paris, May 13, 2014. 
  • Nigerians take part in a protest, called by Malaga's Nigerian women Association, for the release of the abducted schoolgirls, at La Merced square in Malaga, southern Spain May 13, 2014. 
  • Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria's top military spokesman (left), Director General, National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri (center) Frank Mba National police spokesman attend a press conference on the abducted school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, May 12, 2014.
  • Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, speaks to the camera in a video released by the extremist militant group, May 12, 2014.
  • This video released by the extremist militant group, Boko Haram, shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok, May 12, 2014.
  • Demonstrators carry a banner with an image of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau as they demand the release of the abducted schoolgirls, Lagos, Nigeria, May 12, 2014.
  • Protesters demonstrate against the kidnapping of the schoolgirls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy, London May 9, 2014.
  • A sign is pinned to a tree during a demonstration against the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy, in London, May 9, 2014. 
  • People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of the schoolgirls who were abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 9, 2014.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More