Nige­ria marks 1 year since school­girl kid­nap­pings

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY OLA AWONIYI AND AMINU ABUBAKAR

Nige­ria’s Pres­i­dent- elect Muham­madu Buhari on Tues­day cau­tioned he could not make prom­ises on the re­turn of 219 school­girls kid­napped by Boko Haram, as the coun­try marked the first an­niver­sary of their ab­duc­tion.

The com­ments by Buhari, who takes of­fice on May 29, stand in con­trast to out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan, who has re­peat­edly said the girls will be found, and the mil­i­tary, which said last year it knew where the teenagers were be­ing held.

A march was held in Abuja sym­bol­i­cally in­volv­ing 219 school­girls, part of a num­ber of events around the world to mark the ab­duc­tion, which Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said was one of 38 since the start of last year that had seen at least 2,000 women taken by the mil­i­tants.

The U.N. and African rights groups also called for an end to the tar­get­ing of boys and girls in the con­flict, which has left at least 15,000 dead and some 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple home­less, 800,000 of them chil­dren.

Buhari said there was a need for “hon­esty” in his new gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach to the girls’ ab­duc­tion, with noth­ing seen or heard from the stu­dents since last May when they ap­peared in a Boko Haram video.

“We do not know if the Chi­bok girls can be res­cued. Their where­abouts re­main un­known. As much as I wish to, I can­not prom­ise that we can find them,” he said in a state­ment.

“But I say to ev­ery par­ent, fam­ily mem­ber and friend of the chil­dren that my gov­ern­ment will do ev­ery- thing in home.”

its power to bring them

Com­mem­o­ra­tion

School­girls, wear­ing red T-shirts and hold­ing plac­ards with the kid­napped girls names on them, marched to the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry to de­mand the hostages’ im­me­di­ate re­lease.

The U. N. spe­cial en­voy on ed­u­ca­tion, the United King­dom’s for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Gor­don Brown, de­scribed the cam­paign as “the most iconic fight of a free­dom strug­gle.”

“The fight will be won some day. No injustice can last for­ever. But for the sake of th­ese girls, it must be won soon,” he wrote in the Guardian news­pa­per.

Chi­bok el­der Enoch Mark, whose daugh­ter and niece are among the cap­tives, said no events were planned in the town, as it was still in “per­pet­ual fear” of Boko Haram, de­spite the pres­ence of troops.

“The last year has been a pe­riod of sad­ness, emo­tional tor­ment and hard­ship. It has been a year of mourn­ing. We are a be­reaved com­mu­nity that has lost 219 daugh­ters,” he told AFP.

Buhari was now their hope of find­ing the girls, dead or alive, he said, point­ing to the for­mer army gen­eral and mil­i­tary ruler’s suc­cess in putting down a sim­i­lar Is­lamist re­bel­lion in 1984.

In a new re­port pub­lished on Tues­day, Amnesty quoted a se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cer as say­ing the girls were be­ing held at dif­fer­ent Boko Haram camps, in­clud­ing in Cameroon and pos­si­bly Chad.

Tes­ti­mony gath­ered by Amnesty from women and girls who es­caped the mil­i­tants said they were sub­ject to forced Labour and mar­riage, as well as rape.

AFP

U.S. con­gress­woman Carolyn Maloney, a mem­ber of the U.S. Demo­cratic Party rep­re­sent­ing part of New York state, speaks at a rally bring­ing at­ten­tion to the oneyear an­niver­sary of the kid­nap­ping of hun­dreds of Nige­rian school girls on Mon­day, April 13.

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