News / Africa

Rights Group: Nigerian Authorities Were Warned of Raid on Girls' School

A woman carries a sign as she attends a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos May 9, 2014.
A woman carries a sign as she attends a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos May 9, 2014.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International says Nigerian security forces had advance warning about the raid on the girls boarding school.

The human rights group says security forces failed to act on warnings that began coming in more than four hours before Boko Haram fighters attacked the school in the town of Chibok on April 14.

The rights group blamed the lack of action on an "inability to muster troops," due to poor resources and a possible fear of engaging with the often better-armed militants.

Amnesty said Friday that it learned of the warnings from local officials and two senior military officers. There was no immediate reaction from the Nigerian government.

The U.N. Security Council Friday expressed its outrage at the abductions. It welcomed efforts by the international community to provide assistance to Nigeria to find the girls. Speaking on behalf of the council, South Korean Ambassador Oh Joon said the council will consider taking measures against Boko Haram.

"The members of the Security Council expressed their intention to actively follow the situation of the abducted girls and to consider appropriate measures against Boko Haram," said Joon.

Time running out

The Pentagon says most of its team has arrived in Nigeria to assist in the search for the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. But officials warn time may be running out.

"In any hostage situation time is at a premium and there's no question we're racing against the clock here," Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby said Friday.

Six experts from the U.S. Africa Command landed in the Nigerian capital Abuja Friday morning, joining 10 U.S. personnel who are already there.  They aim to help Nigeria with communications, planning and intelligence analysis in the search for the girls.

"We're not talking about U.S. military operations in Nigeria to find these girls," Kirby specified." That's not the focus here."

No drones planned

Despite concerns time may be running out to locate the missing girls, as of now the U.S. will not be using drones to help in the search, putting the weight on the Nigerian military instead.

Kirby said the U.S. is urging Nigeria to "use all the resources at their disposal" to rescue the girls.  He said Washington had previously offered assistance to the Nigerian government but the offer was not accepted until this week.

He said in addition to rescuing the girls held by Boko Haram, the U.S. will also continue working with Nigeria on counter-terrorism.

"The Nigerians are very aware of the threat that Boko Haram poses to them and to their national security," Kirby noted.

Britain has also sent a team to Nigeira to assist in the search, expecting to work closely with the Americans. British officials say in addition to working on a rescue, the team will be looking at ways to help defeat Boko Haram.
 
  • 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.

Where are the girls?

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum for Africa, WEFA, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he believed the schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants last month have not been moved to neighboring Cameroon.

"If they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see, so I believe they are still in Nigeria,'' Jonathan told journalists.

Jonathan's government has been criticized for its slow response to the hostage crisis since the abductions and it was the first time he spoke about where he thinks the girls are being held.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who spoke at the forum, said he empathizes with the parents of the missing girls in their anguish over the possibility that they may be murdered, trafficked or forced to become sex slaves.

Social media protests

For weeks, activists in Nigeria and around the world have been holding rallies demanding the rescue of the girls and sending out Twitter blasts with hashtags like #BringBackOurGirls and #ChibokGirls.

One group promosed to out-tweet the forum's #WEFA hashtag. Their success was partially due however, to the fact that participants and organizers were also tweeting #BringBackOurGirls.

WEFA said in response to the kidnapping, delegates also worked to design programs specifically aimed at helping to secure school children in northern Nigeria.

"We launched a safer-school initiative here," explained Philipp Rosler, managing director of the World Economic Forum. "So the business community said 'OK, we must do something.' And they put together their money - $10 million - the beginning of a special fund to make schools safer."

Some Nigerians are skeptical about whether fancy conferences can actually touch real people's lives.

But forum officials say they are determined to try to solve the disparity problem because it breeds the type of insecurity that allows insurgency to thrive.

Health concerns

Parents and relatives of some of the girls abducted from their Chibok secondary school in northeastern Nigeria are reportedly suffering from a variety of stress-related diseases including heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A grandfather of three of the abducted girls, Mani Chibok who spoke to VOA's Hausa service, said stress levels shot up when news broke that the girls have been forcibly married to Boko Haram insurgents who took them away.

Mani, who is also a district head, said several other parents have resorted to hunger strikes to increase pressure on authorities to find the missing students.

Another Chibok resident, Shettima Abba, also told VOA Hausa that other parents have been taken to hospitals due to poor health attributed to the abduction of the girls.

VOA"s Heather Murdock contributed to this report from Abuja

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Robert from: Ottawa
May 09, 2014 4:01 PM
I am sure that there are other 'specialized' teams there as well.

by: Ronnie from: Los Angeles
May 09, 2014 1:47 PM
I wouldn't believe anything that comes out Goodluck's mouth. As a leader he is a colossal failure.

by: Daniel Stoner from: USA
May 09, 2014 1:46 PM
Man that's sad - the president of a country has to moonlight as pimp.

by: Gabriel from: Seattle
May 09, 2014 1:09 PM
sure these guys are going to move a large amount of young girls all at once knowing that they are being looked for and hated upon, no, criminals these days are very intelligent and will move them in separate groups throughout different routs separated long away from one another, the world needs to work together to capture these people and deal with these people.

by: David Punshon-Smith
May 09, 2014 12:52 PM
I know that many Ugandan people are horrified by this whole event but I really believe that this type of situation is beyond what developing countries like Uganda have the law enforcement infrastructure to handle. They will need help and this may be a good reason for the US to get in and find a good excuse to take out large swathes of Islamic groups like Boko Haram with none of the usual impediments they face when trying to operate in foreign nations.
The media and the wider Muslim population can also play a role here. Why are Muslims around the world not condemning and expressing outrage at the idea that Islam somehow justifies Jihadists kidnapping and raping young girls. Many of the people joining these groups are just kids and they are fooled into thinking that they are doing something noble for a cause as opposed to feeding meat to revolutionary armed pedophiles. The media should be referring to these predators using language that expresses accurately the sexually deviant vermin that they evidently are.
In Response

by: fiona young from: melbourne
May 09, 2014 4:58 PM
I couldn't agree more with David Punshon-smith. Why aren't Muslims leaders worldwide condemning this abhorrent behavior?
In Response

by: Jim from: Chicago
May 09, 2014 1:42 PM
Uganda?? We're talking about Nigeria here. Oh well, "they all look alike."
While we're at it, you make reference to someone being a "sexually deviant vermin." I would be interested to see your sexuality exposed for all to determine whether or not you are "sexually deviant vermin."

by: Steve from: Berkeley California
May 09, 2014 12:43 PM
Goodluck Jonathan is a storyteller. He hasn't a clue where the girl are being held not has he care much until roundly criticized by the world for his ineptitude and inaction. He is not to be believed and has made a mockery of governance. The ruler of Nigeria in addition to be disinterested in mass kidnapping of schoolgirls has been stealing money on a scale that boggles the mind.
Without major improvement in governance including prosecuting thievery and eliminating bribes Nigeria cannot be a successful state . it will remain a failed morass of tribal entities unable to help itself.

by: Mosi from: SC
May 09, 2014 12:33 PM
He believes...starting to sound and has acted like Malaysians!
In Response

by: edmond from: delta, nigeria
May 09, 2014 6:38 PM
I see the division of the north and south! the trigger for a new state is boko haram and the more international look and world military concern, there will a result; but it will lead to a new northern state and southern government. its is earsy to state a war, but the result is core negotiation and by due process the north hemisphere never fit with the south.
In Response

by: Gab
May 09, 2014 3:12 PM
I can see the anti-Jonathan 'commenters' here who are playing deviant politics and propagating lies against the legitimate government of Nigeria rather than be concerned about the evil atrocities of the Islamists. These people are more likely to be the Boko Haram sponsors who want to benefit from the ongoing atrocities. You guys will never succeed again in wresting power in Nigeria through violence and killings. Never again. Never again! Amen!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer 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 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 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