Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Deadlock over how to rescue kidnapped Nigerian girls

Apparent disagreement has emerged between Nigeria’s military chiefs and the president over how to rescue nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists, with the military saying use of force could get the hostages killed and the president reportedly ruling out demands for a prisoner exchange.

Defence chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh announced on Monday night that the military has located the girls, but offered no way forward. “We can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back,” he said.

Previous military attempts to free hostages have led to the prisoners being killed by their abductors, including the deaths of a British and an Italian engineer in the northern town of Sokoto in March 2012.

A human rights activist close to mediators said a swap of detained extremists for the girls was negotiated a week ago but fell through because President Goodluck Jonathan refused to consider an exchange. The activist spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive.

Britain’s Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, said two weeks ago that the Nigerian leader had told him he would not consider a prisoner swap. Community leader Pogu Bitrus of Chibok, the town from which the girls were abducted on April 15, says authorities are speaking with “discordant voices” and the president appears under pressure to negotiate.

“The pressure is there if his own lieutenants are saying one [thing]. Because if they cannot use force, the deduction is that there must be negotiation,” Bitrus said. “And if their commander-in-chief, the president, is saying that he will not negotiate, then they are not on the same page.”

‘Work with our friends’
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, the birthplace of the Boko Haram extremists and the northeastern state from which the girls were abducted, said recently: “We impress on the federal authorities to work with our friends that have offered to assist us to ensure the safe recovery of the innocent girls.”

Nigeria’s military and government have faced national and international outrage over their failure to rescue the girls seized by Boko Haram militants from a remote northeastern school six weeks ago.

Jonathan finally accepted international help. American planes have been searching for the girls and Britain, France, Israel and other countries have sent experts in surveillance and hostage negotiation. A Boko Haram video has shown some of the kidnapped girls reciting Qur’anic verses in Arabic and two of them explaining why they had converted from Christianity to Islam in captivity. Unverified reports have indicated two may have died of snake bites, that some have been forced to marry their abductors and that some may have been taken across borders into Chad and Cameroon.

Boko Haram – the nickname means “Western education is sinful” – believes Western influences have corrupted Nigerian society and want to install an Islamic state under strict Shariah law. Nigeria’s population of 170-million people is divided almost equally between Christians and Muslims. – Sapa-AP

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Sapa Ap
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

Zondo may miss chief justice cut

The deputy chief justice is said to top Ramaphosa’s list but his position as head of the state capture commission is seen as too politically fraught

More top stories

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors

How Alpha Condé overthrew Alpha Condé

Since the coup d’état, Guinea’s head of state has been in the custody of the military officers. But it was the president who was the primary architect of his own downfall

‘The Making of Mount Edgecombe’: A view of history from...

Indian indentured labourers’ lives are celebrated in a new book, Sugar Mill Barracks: The Making of Mount Edgecombe

Case of men arrested with 19 rhino horns is postponed

Alleged rhino kingpin and a Mpumalanga businessman appeared in court on charges of the illegal possession and selling of rhino horns
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×