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Nigerian President Meets Parents of Missing Girls

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The Nigerian President met parents of the girls kidnapped from northern Nigeria some 100 days ago on Tuesday to assure them of the government’s commitment to see to the girl’s safe return.

The parents were hosted at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the federal capital, but they weren’t the only ones to hold court with the president; chiefs and other political leaders, including the governors of Bauchi and Borno states, the president of the Nigerian Senate, were also present. All in all, 177 people attended the meeting, including 51 girls who had managed to run to their freedom.

While not all parents were present, the few that were, and the freed girls, all gave their testimonies and shared a moment with the president who iterated his commitment to secure the girl’s return.

But sadly, some girls will never get to see their parents, if they return home. It has been reported that so far, 11 of the girls’ parents have so far died in different circumstances in northern Nigeria. 7 were killed in a raid this month by the Boko Haram, the same group that is holding the girls, while 4 have died from illnesses believed to have been caused by the girls’ abduction, such as heart failure and hypertension.

Their tragic deaths are grimly indicative of a more persistence menace that will not be easily solved by the president’s assurances, and that’s the harsh reality most of these parents unfortunately live in. The death of the 7 came after a spate of increased attacks in northern Nigeria by the Boko Haram, who are believed to have recently killed over a hundred people in the town of Damboa, where it seems they also planted their flag, which symbolically means they have taken control of the town.

Damboa is a few miles from Chibok, where the abducted girls were taken from, and only the latest in a string of attacks in the area that has so far displaced at least 15,000 people.

In between seizing towns and villages, and controlling major roads, it seems, at least for the moment, that Boko Haram has the upper hand in northeastern Nigeria.

Which makes President Jonathan’s promise slightly hard to keep, considering that all the freed girls were not recovered from rescue mission, but from their own efforts.

By Matengo Chwanya


BBC/All Africa