Nigerians march for Chibok girls on kidnapping anniversary - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Nigerians march for Chibok girls on kidnapping anniversary

Posted: Updated:
July 30, 2015, file photo: Women and children rescued by Nigerian soldiers from the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in the northeast of Nigeria, arrive at the military office in Nigeria (AP Photo/Jossy Ola, File) July 30, 2015, file photo: Women and children rescued by Nigerian soldiers from the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in the northeast of Nigeria, arrive at the military office in Nigeria (AP Photo/Jossy Ola, File)
Monday, May 5, 2014 file photo: Women attend a demonstration in Lagos calling on the government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba, File) Monday, May 5, 2014 file photo: Women attend a demonstration in Lagos calling on the government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba, File)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Angry over lack of progress to resolve one of the highest-profile mass kidnappings in the world, Nigerians marched in their country's major cities on Thursday to demand the safe return of girls who were abducted by Boko Haram extremists two years ago from a school in Chibok.

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was expected in the northeastern town of Chibok for the anniversary of the kidnappings, said Yakubu Nkeki, leader of a support group of parents of the kidnapped girls. He said the community is angry that their only school remains in ruins. Boko Haram firebombed buildings as they took off with girls.

Some 20,000 children in the town and its surroundings have no school to attend, Nkeki said Thursday as parents gathered at the ruins of the school to pray for the safe return of their daughters.

"Boko Haram has achieved its aim. They say they don't want us to have Western education and our children don't," Nkeki said.

Two years ago, the Islamic extremists seized 276 girls who had gathered for science exams at the Government Girls Secondary School in the northeast town of Chibok. Some managed to escape, jumping off pickup trucks as the Islamic extremists drove them toward the Sambisa Forest. A total of 219 remain missing.

On Wednesday, CNN broadcast parts of a Boko Haram video of girls wearing the Islamic hijab, and CNN also aired its own images of tearful mothers, including one reaching out to a computer screen as she recognized her kidnapped daughter.

The video shows 15 of the girls — one with a mischievous grin, one looking uncompromising, downright defiant, and one downcast. One can feel the pain that shows in the eyes of many of them. They give the date of the video as Christmas, Dec. 25, 2015.

While Boko Haram is thought to have abducted thousands of people over the years, the mass abduction brought the extremist group to the world's attention. The campaign hashtag #BringBackOurGirls went as far as the White House, used by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.

CNN reported that the video was sent in December to negotiators trying to free the girls. CNN's report included Information Minister Lai Mohammed saying the government is reviewing and assessing the video, which it apparently demanded as "proof of life" from Boko Haram.

Sen. Shehu Sani, who has been involved in past negotiations with Boko Haram about the Chibok girls, told The Associated Press he found the video credible. Nkeki, leader of the support group for parents of the Chibok girls, said he briefly saw part of the CNN video, in between power blackouts frequent in Nigeria, and "those are definitely our girls."

There's been no word from the Chibok girls since May 2014, when Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said they had converted to Islam and threatened to sell them into slavery or forced marriage with his fighters.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

This is the latest story. The previous story is below.

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A schoolmate says she cried with joy when she saw a Boko Haram video appearing to show some of Nigeria's kidnapped Chibok girls, with images of tearful mothers recognizing their daughters who have not been heard from since the mass abduction by the Islamic extremists two years ago.

"The moment I saw them and recognized their faces — Saratu Ayuba, Jummai Mutah, and Kwazigu Hamman — I started crying, with tears of joy rolling down from my eyes, thanking God for their lives," she says.

The young woman, who now calls herself Saa and is going to college in the United States, was among several dozen who escaped, jumping down from the back of an open truck after Boko Haram had kidnapped them. The extremists seized 276 girls who had gathered for science exams at the Government Girls Secondary School in the northeast town of Chibok. There are 219 missing.

Saa spoke in a statement through the Education Must Continue Initiative, a Washington-based project started by Nigerian Emmanuel Ogede, which is sponsoring the education of Saa and nine other students who escaped.

"Seeing them gives me the courage to tell the world today that we should not lose hope," Saa said. "Let's keep praying and campaigning for #BringBackOurGirls. I want the world to raise their voice. Let's not stop until the government hears us and does something about it."

CNN on Wednesday aired the video, believed made in December, of girls wearing the Islamic hijab, and of one mother reaching out to a computer screen as she recognizes her daughter.

"My Saratu," she wails, before breaking down in sobs. She says Saratu was 15 when she was kidnapped and now is 17.

The video shows 15 of the girls — one with a mischievous grin, one looking uncompromising, downright defiant, and one downcast. One can feel the pain that shows in the eyes of many of them. They give the date as Christmas, Dec. 25, 2015.

While Boko Haram is thought to have abducted thousands of people over the years, the mass abduction brought the extremist group to the world's attention. The campaign hashtag #BringBackOurGirls went as far as the White House, used by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.

The failure of Nigerian officials and the military to rescue the girls brought international condemnation and contributed to President Goodluck Jonathan's loss in elections last year.

Jonathan at first had denied there had been a mass abduction, but international pressure soon forced him to accept help from other countries.

The United States, Britain and France were among those that sent advisers, including hostage negotiators. U.S. and British drones located at least one group of about 80 of the girls, which was reported to Nigeria's government and military, but nothing was done.

Andrew Pocock, who was British high commissioner to Nigeria until his retirement last year, told The Sunday Times magazine last month that it was considered too dangerous to the other girls to attempt a ground or air rescue. "You might have rescued a few, but many would have been killed. ... You were damned if you do and damned if you don't," the magazine quoted him as saying.

Nigeria's military has cited the same fears. Yet that has not stopped them from attacking towns and villages where Boko Haram has held thousands of civilians captive. The military boasted last week that soldiers have rescued 11,595 civilian hostages since Feb. 26.

But none has been from Chibok.

CNN reported that the "proof of life" video was sent in December to negotiators trying to free the girls. It shows an interview with Information Minister Lai Mohammed saying the government is reviewing and assessing the video.

Senator Shehu Sani, who has been involved in past negotiations with Boko Haram about the Chibok girls, told The Associated Press he found the video credible. Yakubu Nkeki, leader of a support group of parents of the kidnapped girls, said he briefly saw part of the CNN video, in between power blackouts frequent in Nigeria, and recognized some of the girls.

"We are all well," one of the girls says in the video, emphasizing the "all." There have been fears that Boko Haram's increasing use of female children and adults to carry out suicide bombings indicates they are turning captives into weapons, including the Chibok girls.

The video ends with one of the girls appealing to Nigeria's government to meet unspecified promises.

There's been no word of the girls since May 2014, when Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said they had converted to Islam and threatened to sell them into slavery or forced marriage with his fighters. Many recently freed girls are pregnant.

Two mothers and 16 fathers have died since the mass abduction, some of them victims of Boko Haram attacks. Others died from illnesses blamed on stress, according to Nkeki, who spoke to the AP by phone from Chibok.

Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is due in Chibok on Thursday for the anniversary of the kidnappings, Nkeki said, complaining the issue has become politicized. He said the community is angry that their only school remains in the ruins created by Boko Haram, which firebombed buildings as they took off with the girls.

Some 20,000 children in the town and its surroundings have no school to attend, he said Thursday as parents started gathering at the school to pray for the safe return of their daughters.

"Boko Haram has achieved its aim. They say they don't want us to have Western education and our children don't," Nkeki said.

---

This report has been corrected to show that the last word of the girls was in May 2014, not April 2014.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.