Vanguard (Lagos)

12 May 2014

Nigeria: Chibok - I'm Afraid of Returning to School

Frustration and despair over the fate of hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria is forcing families to organize ... ( Resource: Nigerian Families Organizing Search For Kidnapped Girls

ABUJA--ONE of the girls who escaped from the terrorists' camp has expressed fears of returning to school, describing the kidnapping as "too terrifying for words."

Science student Sarah Lawan, 19, told The Associated Press that more of the girls could have escaped but that they were frightened by their captors' threats to shoot them.

Lawan spoke in Hausa language in a phone interview from Chibok, her home.

Some of the abducted girls who escaped their abductors in Sambisa forest in Borno

She said: "I am pained that my other colleagues could not summon the courage to run away with me. Now I cry each time I come across their parents and see how they weep when they see me."

Lawan said other girls, who escaped later have told her that the abductors spoke of their plans to marry them. She said the thought of going back to school terrifies her -- neither the burnt out ruins of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School nor any other school.

"I am really scared to go back there; but I have no option if I am asked to go because I need to finish my final year exams which were stopped half way through."

53 students out of about 276 abducted girls were said to have escaped with the terrorists threatening to sell the students into slavery.

Israel sends anti-terrorism experts

Meanwhile, Israel, yesterday, joined other world powers such as USA, France, United Kingdom, China, Spain and Canada to assist Nigeria in the search and rescue operation of the more than 200 female students abducted four weeks ago in Borno State.

President Goodluck Jonathan has also expressed optimism that, with the entire international community deploying military and intelligence-gathering skills in support of Nigeria's efforts, the abducted schoolgirls will soon be found and rescued.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who made the offer to the Nigerian Government during a telephone conversation with President Jonathan, yesterday, said the security experts would arrive Nigeria soon.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, who disclosed this in a statement quoted the president as saying that "with the entire international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria's efforts to find and rescue the abducted Chibok girls, success will soon be achieved".

According to Dr Abati, the Israeli Prime Minister conveyed his country's sympathy and solidarity with Nigeria.

He said President Jonathan briefed Mr. Netanyahu on actions already being taken by Nigeria's armed forces and security agencies to locate and rescue the girls, saying that Nigeria would be pleased to have Israel's globally-acknowledged anti-terrorism expertise deployed to support its ongoing operations.

He said: "Mr. Netanyahu, who expressed Israel's total condemnation of the mass abductions, said that the team of experts from his country who will soon arrive in Nigeria, will work in collaboration with teams from the United States and Britain who are already in the country and their Nigerian counterparts to intensify the search for the girls.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel's willingness to give the government and people of Nigeria all possible support and assistance to overcome terrorism and insecurity", Dr Abati said.

Impose sanctions on Boko Haram terrorists, their backers--SERAP urges UN

Also, a leading Nigerian rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday, urged the UN Security Council to go beyond mere expression of concern over the fate of the abducted girls.

In a statement signed by its executive director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group said: "It is now time for the Council to act decisively against Boko Haram by imposing targeted sanctions against them and their backers to end persistent attacks against children and other civilians."

According to SERAP: "The Council should consider a broad range of options for increasing pressure on Boko Haram and their backers if it is to contribute to stemming the persistent abuse of children by the extremist group, and assist Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.

"This will certainly increase international action against the impunity with which Boko Haram operates, and may be the turning point to secure the safe return of the missing schoolgirls.

"The suggested action is consistent with the 2012 'Resolution 2068' of the Council.

"This resolution reiterates the primary responsibility of the Council for the maintenance of international peace and security and its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children."

It further said, "The cost of inaction is simply too high to contemplate. Taking strong action would send a strong signal that the resolutions of the Council are not only words on paper, and that vigorous action can be taken when they are not implemented.

"The future of these missing schoolgirls hang in a balance. The Council should not leave them to fend for themselves. It should send a message that it will not turn away. Any child that the Council saves from the scourge of armed conflict represents hope for a better future."

We must all be united against Terrorism--PDP

Meanwhile, national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has urged Nigerians to unite against terrorism irrespective of religion, tribe and party affiliation.

In a statement, yesterday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the interest of the nation must be paramount and placed first above personal interest, just as he said that Nigeria is bigger than any person or persons, adding, "our unity as a nation and the welfare of all our people remain non-negotiable."

Hailing the solidarity of Nigerians for their exceptional support of efforts to ensure the rescue of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Metuh said: "The cry of our people over the past few weeks has inspired a global response that will help to number the days of the terrorists.

"Nigerians have not only demonstrated our oneness but also our boldness and determination to surge forward as a people to rescue our land from those who aim to cow us and impose a reign of terror in our nation. It is clear that once we continue to show such unity and solidarity in all our affairs, our nation will emerge stronger and ultimately take its rightful place among the comity of nations.

"We note with joy, the change of attitude on the part of some opposition leaders whose recent statements indicate that they have realized the harm their past posture and utterances caused the nation. It has remained our publicly stated belief that playing the blame game, emboldened insurgents to unleash terror on our people. Though this change of attitude is late, we believe that it is better late than never."

David Cameron joins "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign

Also, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron has promised Britain "will do what we can" to help find more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.

He made the comments as he held a sign bearing the "#Bring Back Our Girls" slogan on the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

Mr Cameron is the latest high-profile supporter of the social media campaign after US First Lady Michelle Obama was pictured with a similar poster.

He also told the BBC One programme: "I rang the Nigerian president to offer anything that would be helpful and we agreed to send out a team that includes some counter-terrorism and intelligence experts to work alongside the bigger American team that's going out there. We stand ready to do anything more that the Nigerians would want."

He said it was unlikely Nigeria would ask for British troops to help but added: "I said to President Jonathan where we can help, please ask, and we will see what we can do.

"This is not just a problem in Nigeria," he said. "We're seeing this really violent extreme Islamism - we see problems in Pakistan, we see problems in other parts of Africa, problems in the Middle East. Also, let's be frank, here in the UK there is still too much support for extremism that we have to tackle, whether it's in schools or colleges or universities or wherever."

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