Nigeria’s Boko Haram threatens to sell schoolgirls on market

ABUJA, (Reuters) – The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Monday for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria last month and threatened to “sell them on the market”, the French news agency AFP reported, citing a video.

Boko Haram on April 14 stormed an all-girl secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The brazenness and sheer brutality of the school attack shocked Nigerians, who have been growing accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in the video, according to AFP, which is normally the first media outlet to get hold of Shekau’s videos.

It did not immediately give further details.

Boko Haram, now seen as the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer, is growing bolder and extending its reach. The kidnapping occurred on the same day as a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, that killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja and marked the first attack on the capital in two years.

The militants, who say they are fighting to reinstate a mediaeval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, repeated that bomb attack more than two weeks later in almost exactly the same spot, killing 19 people and wounding 34 in the suburb of Nyanya.

The girls’ abductions have been hugely embarrassing for the government and threaten to completely overshadow its first hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa on May 7-9.

Nigerian officials had hoped the event would highlight their country’s potential as an investment destination since it became Africa’s biggest economy after a GDP recalculation in March.

PROTESTER ARRESTED

The apparent powerlessness of the military to prevent the attack or find the girls in three weeks has triggered anger and protests in the northeast and in Abuja.

On Sunday, authorities arrested a leader of a protest staged last week in Abuja that had called on them to do more to find the girls. The arrest has further fuelled outrage against the security forces.

Naomi Mutah Nyadar was picked up by police after a meeting she and other campaigners had held with President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Patience, concerning the girls.

Nyadar was taken to Asokoro police station, near the presidential villa, said fellow protester Lawan Abana, whose two nieces are among the abductees.

Police were not immediately available to comment on the incident, but a presidency source said Nyadar had been detained because she had falsely claimed to be the mother of one of the missing girls. Abana said she had made no such claim.

In a statement, Patience Jonathan denied local media reports that she had ordered Nyadar’s arrest but urged the protesters in Abuja to go home, the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria said.

“You are playing games. Don’t use school children and women for demonstrations again. Keep it to Borno, let it end there,” the agency quoted her as saying.

More protests are planned from 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Monday. These could become a major headache for the government if they continue and coincide with the WEF event, where security arrangements will involve some 6,000 army troops.

In a televised “media chat” late on Sunday, President Jonathan pledged that the girls would soon be found and released, but also admitted he had no clue where they were.

“Let me reassure the parents and guardians that we will get their daughters out,” he said, adding that extra troops had been deployed and aircraft mobilised in the hunt for the girls.

Latest in World News

Mario Draghi

EU leaders tell Britain to exit swiftly, markets steadier

LONDON/BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – European leaders told Britain yesterday to act quickly to resolve the political and economic confusion unleashed by its vote to leave the European Union last week, after the IMF said the uncertainty could put pressure on global economic growth.

default placeholder

Suspected Islamic State suicide bombers kill 36 at Istanbul airport

ISTANBUL, (Reuters) – Three suicide bombers opened fire then blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main international airport yesterday, killing 36 people and wounding close to 150 in what Turkey’s prime minister said appeared to have been an attack by Islamic State militants.

default placeholder

Libya wealth fund boss screamed, cursed at Goldman bankers -witness

LONDON, (Reuters) – The Libyan wealth fund’s former deputy chief screamed and cursed at Goldman Sachs bankers in a stormy meeting over derivatives trades made on the bank’s advice that ultimately turned out to be worthless, a witness told a court yesterday.

default placeholder

Toyota recalling 1.43 million hybrids worldwide for air bag issue

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said late yesterday it is recalling 1.43 million hybrid Prius and Lexus CT200h cars worldwide because of a possible airbag inflator defect.

George Osborne

Brexit vote, UK political confusion rattles world markets for second day

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s vote last Thursday to leave the European Union continued to reverberate through financial markets yesterday, with the pound falling to its lowest level in 31 years, despite government attempts to relieve some of the confusion about the political and economic outlook.

default placeholder

Turkey mends fences with Israel, Russia in foreign policy reset

ISTANBUL/MOSCOW/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Turkey announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel yesterday after a six-year rupture and expressed regret to Russia over the downing of a warplane, seeking to mend strained alliances and ease a sense of isolation on the world stage.

default placeholder

Kerry raises harassment of US diplomats in Moscow with Putin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russian harassment and surveillance of US diplomats in Moscow has increased significantly and US Secretary of State John Kerry raised the issue recently with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the State Department said yesterday.

Boris Johnson

British EU vote unnerves world leaders and markets

LONDON,  (Reuters) – Britain plunged deeper into political crisis yesterday after its vote to exit the European Union last Thursday, leaving world officials and financial markets confused about how to handle the political and economic fallout.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: