Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan admitted that Nigerian security forces do not know where more than 200 abducted schoolgirls are being held – or if they are still alive. In a nightmarish scenario, the young girls were taken three weeks ago (April 14, 2014) from a secondary school in the Chibok town of Borno state. 276 girls were abducted. Fifty-three escaped but 223 are still missing, presumed to be in the hands of their captors. If this is the first time you’ve heard of this story, well, welcome to American journalism…
According to witness accounts, armed members of Boko Haram overwhelmed security guards at a school last month, pulled the girls out of their beds and forced them into waiting trucks. The convoy of trucks then disappeared into the dense forest bordering Cameroon (there were “sightings” of a convoy of gunmen crossing with the girls into Cameroon and Chad). Families had sent their girls to the rural school in Chibok for desperately needed education (72% of primary-age children in Borno never attend school). Authorities said the number of missing girls could grow as police fill in spotty school enrollment records.
The group that has claimed responsibility – Boko Haram (meaning “Western education is a sin”) – is a radical Islamist group that objects to Western culture and Western-style schools. Reports emerged that the girls are being married off to Boko Haram militants while the Boko Haram leader himself has published a video stating that the group plans to sell the girls “in the market”.
“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
Little is known of the girls themselves. Most were between the ages of 16 and 18 years old. Parents of the young girls remain silent for fear that their daughters may be singled out for reprisals if the families voice their concerns through public venues.
The inability of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, to find the kidnapped girls is all-the-more astonishing given the reports they the young ladies have been moved around the country in blatantly visible convoys of vehicles. Still, Nigeria is seeking support from other countries. President Goodluck Jonathan noted:
“We are talking to countries we think can help us out. The United States is number one. I have talked to President Obama at least twice.”