9 May 2014

Nigeria: Cameroon Denies Harbouring Chibok Schoolgirls

Tightly packed inside trucks designed to carry cattle and cargo, hundreds of refugees arrived at the UNHCR-run Minawao Refugee Camp in northeastern ... ( Resource: As Nigerians Flee Boko Haram Terror, Cameroon Deploys Elite Forces

Cameroon has refuted allegations that some of the more than 200 missing Nigerian schoolgirls have been sold for marriage within its borders. Boko Haram's leader had vowed to sell the girls in the marketplace.

No other topic in recent years has generated such a heated debate in Cameroon as much as the activities of the Nigerian Islamist group.

The debate took on a new dimension when close to 300 girls were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Nigeria.

When the girls were kidnapped on April 14, some media reports suggested that some of them had been transferred to Cameroon and Chad.

They were then being forced to marry Islamist extremists.

Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau, warned in a video recording that he would sell the girls at the marketplace. Some sources in Nigeria said a bride price of $12 (9 Euros) was all that one needed.

Plea not to marry girls

Muslims in Cameroon have been calling on fellow believers not to marry any of these girls should they be offered to them.

Muslim leader, Nchotu Soule, said anyone seen acting suspiciously with a girl should be reported to the authorities.

He said: "The prophet Mohammed insists that Islam is a religion of peace. Any true faithful of Islam will want to reject anything that comes from the Boko Haram.

"They are using our Muslim brothers here to be able to carry out their activities."

For some time now Cameroonian authorities have been warning that Boko Haram is keen on recruiting members from Cameroon. The situation worries many citizens such as Silas Mao, a university student in Yaounde.

He said very little was being done to stop Boko Haram. "If Cameroon and Nigeria decide, they can stop Boko Haram because I know that they are not more powerful than these states," Mao said.

He also said he was sure the Islamist militant group had a base in Cameroon.

"If nothing is done, we will find ourselves in a situation like the one in Arab states where such people dictate what is done," Mao warned.

'False allegations'

Cameroon's Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakari, said he was shocked by accusations that Cameroon was not collaborating with Nigeria to free the girls from their captors.

Bakari said: "We insist that allegations from Nigeria that a part of the 200 young female students recently kidnapped in the North-East of Nigeria would have been transferred to Cameroon to be forced into marriage to members of the Boko Haram sect are fully unfounded.

"Cameroon will never ever serve as a support base for destabilisation activities towards other countries."

The minister said Cameroon was a victim of what he called 'rather unfortunate and heinous crimes' in Nigeria.

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