If you’ve been following the heartbreaking story of 234 Nigerian school girls abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram last month from their school, you are aware that the Nigerian government appears paralyzed to do anything about it. This is only adding to the horror for families who have waited in vain for President Goodluck Jonathan to mount any kind of a rescue operation or make much of an effort to find them.
To make matters worse, rumors surfaced last week that the girls were being sold as child brides by the terrorists:
“We have heard from members of the forest community where they took the girls,” he told them. ”They said there had been mass marriages and the girls are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants.”
The girl’s father fainted, the Guardian reported, and has since been hospitalized. But the news got worse. Village elder Pogo Bitrus told Agence France Presse locals had consulted with “various sources” in the nation’s forested northeast. “From the information we received yesterday from Cameroonian border towns our abducted girls were taken… into Chad and Cameroon,” he said, adding that each girl was sold as a bride to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira — $12.
The Washington Post could not independently verify such claims, and the Nigerian defense ministry didn’t immediately return requests for comment Wednesday morning. But if true, the news would add another terrifying wrinkle to an already horrifying set of events that has galvanized the nation, spurred foreign leaders to take notice, and exposed the powerlessness of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the face of a radicalized and murderous militant group named Boko Haram.
President Jonathan has come under fire for the feeble efforts of his government and military so far to find the girls.
First, the Nigerian military reported that 129 school girls had been taken from the northeastern state of Borno. Then it claimed that all of the girls but eight had been released. This soon proved false. Few, if any, had been released. In fact, parents said an additional 100 girls beyond original estimates had also been taken. In all, 234 school girls are today suspected captured.
Parents have grown increasingly frustrated by what they perceive as a feckless governmental response. Some relatives have launched their own search, riding motorcycles deep into the surrounding forests in search of their girls. “My wife keeps asking me, why isn’t the government deploying every means to find our children,” relative Dawah said.
“All we want from the government is to help us bring our children back,” one father named Pogu Yaga, wept.
The US and Great Britain have offered to help the Nigerian government but, incredibly, Johnathan probably won’t allow anything except monetary aid. The reason is simple; his army is suspected of gross and bloody human rights violations and the government would just as soon not see any foreigners snooping around.
The confused, lethargic response to the kidnappings by the Nigerian government has the world up in arms. Johnathan has ordered his military to step up their efforts, but are they capable?:
“Jonathan has to show that he is actively doing something” because of the protests and the upcoming World Economic Forum, set to take place in Nigeria’s capital on Wednesday, said Veryan Khan, who has studied the group in depth as executive director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher for Human Rights Watch, agreed that the international attention “forced [Jonathan’s] hands,” and said he shouldn’t have waited “until the people took to the streets and used social media to galvanize international interest to carry out his obligations to the abducted girls and their families.”