ENOUGH IS ENOUGH THESE ABDUCTIONS AND KILLINGS MUST STOP! - Education is a child’s basic right… #BringBackOurGirls

  • Despite the terrifying attacks on schools, hundreds of brave girls gathered in Chibok, Borno state, North Nigeria for a few days in April to take exams.  April 14, come sundown, as many as 200 armed extremist stormed the boarding school dormitories herding the girls out of bed and tricking them into thinking they were military soldiers rescuing them from an on coming attack from Boko Haram.  That evening more than 300 girls were abducted.
  • In the dead of night, the militants’ convoy of pickup trucks, buses and motorcycles penetrated deep into the Nigerian forest with its haul of kidnapped children (possibly the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where Boko Harem were known to have fortified camps).  Men on motorcycles wielding AK-47’s riding along side the trucks threatening to shoot any girl that tries to escape.
  • 53 girls had escaped so far, and 276 remained missing.
  • Many sold as “brides”(sex slaves) to militants for the price of $12 (7.12£ / 8.73€ / 1221¥ / 93HK$).  In an article by the Washington Post, one family member was noted as stating:  “We have heard from members of the forest community where they took the girls. They said there had been mass marriages and the girls are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants”.
  • At least two have died of snakebite, and about 20 others are ill. 
  • Latest reports states that another group of 11 girls between the ages of 12 and 15 had been kidnapped in the villages of Warabe and Wala in northeastern Borno state.  Many media sources believe that the girls were forced into trucks driven to Cameroon and Chad.
  • Boko Haram (modeled itself on Afghanistan’s Taliban) literally translates to ‘Western education is a sin’; bitterly opposes secular education and Western culture, aiming to establish Islamic sharia law throughout the country.
  • In addition to last months kidnapping, the terror group has carried out dozens of school attacks since 2012, killing a countless number of students and teachers, nearly closing all the schools in the northeastern region of Nigeria.
  • In February an attack in Yobe state carried out by Boko Haram ambushed a boarding school while the students were sleeping, killing 43 students .  Young boys had their throats cuts or were hacked to death.  Others were locked into their dormitories and burned to death as the extremist threw in firebombs.
  • In July, 42 students and teachers killed in another attack on a Yobe state school. 
  • In September 40 more died in an attack on an agricultural college, again during when the students were sleeping.
  • Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 people this year.
  • President Goodluck Jonathan acknowledged the offers of help from the United States, Britain, China and France, all of which have offered help in the weeks-old search for the girls.  But the task of recovering the girls appeared to grow more complicated with news that U.S. intelligence believe the 276 girls have been split up and moved out of Nigeria and into neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Togo.
  • Human rights group Amnesty International said in a statement, citing multiple interviews with sources, that the security forces had been warned more than four hours in advance of the school attack but did not do enough to stop it.
  • President Goodluck Jonathan, for weeks refused international help to search for more than 300 girls abducted from a school by Islamic extremists.  An apparent lack of urgency on the part of the government and military, for reasons that include a reluctance to bring in outsiders as well as possible infiltration by the extremists.  Last year, he said he suspected Boko Haram terrorists might be in the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government along with the police and armed forces.
  • The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon has said the world body is set to send out a a special envoy on security to Nigeria to assist the country in the search for the abducted schoolgirls.  Also, the UN, in collaboration with the international community has expressed commitment to ensuring that the over 10 million out of school girls in Nigeria are sent to school as soon as possible.
  • Almost one year after Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states, the Nigerian authorities have reported that a quarter of a million people are now displaced within the country and more than 60,000 people have fled across borders.
  • UPDATE: an undated video released on Monday by French news agency Agence France-Presse, shows about 100 of the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants nearly a month ago.  It’s the first time they’ve been seen since their abduction.  The girls are shown wearing the full-length hijab; some portions of the footage show them praying.  It is thought the majority of the abducted girls are Christians, although there are a number of Muslims among them.  The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said they would be held until all imprisoned militants had been freed.

Read the full article ‘Nigerian schoolgirls recall Boko Haram kidnapping’ via Los Angeles Times (additional sources CNN, Washington Post, AP, Reuters, New York Times)

#RatifyLawForChildProtection #ChildrenDeservesTheRightToEducation #EducationIsABasicRight #StolenDreams

photo: reuters/akintunde akinleye
Mob brutally attacks gay men in Nigeria, dragging them from their homes

TW: Anti-gay violence

Last week, a mob of about 50 men in Nigeria dragged more than a dozen gay men from their homes in the night and brutally assaulted them.

According to activists and a witness, the mob beat the men “with nail-studded clubs and whips, shouting that they were ‘cleansing the community’ of gays.” Some of the victims were dragged to a nearby police station, where police reportedly further beat them and verbally assaulted them. Some of their homes were tagged with anti-gay graffiti as well. 

The attack came in the wake of a new law signed by President Goodluck Jonathan prescribing prison sentences of up to 14 years for gay people. There have been recent episodes of similar mob violence in the Muslim-dominated north of Nigeria.

In Abuja, the witness and the activists said, some in the mob were shouting, “We are working for Jonathan!”

About 14 young men were assaulted, the activists said, and no members of the mob were arrested.

[emphasis added]

Absolutely terrifying. I don’t even know what to say.
Boko Haram crisis: Militants attack key city of Maiduguri

Fighters from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram have launched an attack on the key city of Maiduguri in north-eastern Nigeria, reports say.

Fierce fighting is said to be taking place on the outskirts of the city as militants attempt to enter it.

The military is carrying out air strikes, and a curfew has been imposed.

Maiduguri is home to tens of thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram attacks and was visited on Saturday by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language, launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

Thousands of people have been killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria.

Residents of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, say they woke to sustained loud explosions and gunshots.

Roads and business have been closed by security forces.

The attack appeared to have begun in the Njimtilo district on the edge of the city.

One resident there, Rachel Adamu, told Reuters: “Please pray for us, we are in danger, under serious attack now.”

The BBC’s Chris Ewokor in Abuja says the military are carrying out co-ordinated air strikes and ground attacks against the insurgents.

Maiduguri would be a major prize for Boko Haram, which last tried to take the city in December 2013.

President Jonathan visited Maiduguri on Saturday as part of his election campaign for polls in February.

It was his second visit in two weeks. Before these trips his last visit had been in March 2013.

On his visit on 16 January, he told some of the 5,000 refugees who fled recent Boko Haram violence: “I want to assure you that you will soon go back to your houses.”

He pledged that “all the areas under the control of Boko Haram will soon be recaptured”.

His visit came after UK-based human rights group Amnesty International released satellite images of towns attacked by Boko Haram, suggesting widespread destruction and a high death toll.

The pictures showed some 3,700 structures damaged or destroyed in Baga and neighbouring Doron Baga in the first week of the year, the human-rights group said.

Nigeria’s government has disputed reports that as many as 2,000 were killed, putting the toll at just 150.

Boko Haram ‘getting weaker every day’, says Nigeria president | AFP

The Nigerian president has said the military hopes to recapture towns seized by Boko Haram within a month, in what would be a swift victory after six years of bloody conflict.

But experts warned against any premature declaration of victory, with the militants still proving capable of carrying out deadly hit-and-run strikes and indications of coalition lapses.

Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election on 28 March, said Boko Haram was “getting weaker and weaker every day”. he told the BBC: “I’m very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover old territories that hitherto have been in their hands.”

FULL ARTICLE (via The Guardian)

Photo: Cabinet Office/Flickr

Source: The Guardian

US to send team to Nigeria in response to kidnapping

ReutersThe U.S. State Department says Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has welcomed a U.S. offer to send an American team to Nigeria to support the government’s response to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by an Islamist militant group.

Follow this story on Breaking News

Photo: Women take part in a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5. (Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters)
Boko Haram crisis: Chad sends troops to help Cameroon

The announcement came a day after Chad said it would “actively support” its neighbour against the militants.

No detail was given about how many troops would be sent, or when.

On Tuesday, Cameroon said it had killed 143 Boko Haram militants who attacked one of its army bases at Kolofata near the Nigerian border.

It said one soldier had died during the assault, which led to a gun battle lasting five hours.

It was the first major attack on Cameroon since Boko Haram threatened the country’s leader in a video posted online earlier this month.

The militant Islamist group has seized control of towns and villages in north-east Nigeria in a six-year insurgency.

A French-led initiative has called for Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad to contribute 700 troops each to a multinational force against Boko Haram, but no country has taken steps to implement the plan.

Niger and Cameroon have both criticised Nigeria for failing to do more to confront Boko Haram.

Chad previously had some troops based in Baga, a Nigerian town seized by Boko Haram earlier this month, but they had been withdrawn before the attack.

Correspondents say Nigerian politicians appear more focused on campaigning for elections next month than on security issues, and senior figures rarely comment on the insurgency in the north-east.

On Thursday, President Goodluck Jonathan made an unannounced visit to the area, his first for nearly two years.

He told displaced people in the biggest city of Borno state, Maiduguri, that he was “working very hard” to help them return to their homes.

Mr Jonathan’s visit came as the human rights group Amnesty International released satellite images of towns attacked by Boko Haram, suggesting widespread destruction and a high death toll.

The pictures showed about 3,700 structures damaged or destroyed in Baga and neighbouring Doron Baga last week, the rights group said.

Amnesty’s before-and-after satellite images were taken on 2 and 7 January.

Nigeria’s government has disputed reports that as many as 2,000 people were killed in and around Baga, putting the number of dead at no more than 150.

In behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I write to express my empathy with the Government and people of the State Israel on the abduction of three teenage Israeli students. Given Nigeria’s experience with the scourge of terrorism, I assure you that we are in solidarity with you, as we believe that any act of terrorism against any nation or group is an act against our common humanity. We unequivocally condemn this dastardly act and demand that the children are released unconditionally by their abductors.
—  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a letter today from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in which the latter – on behalf of himself and the Nigerian people – condemns the abduction of the three youths and demands their unconditional release.

Nigerian president signs law banning gay marriage

ReutersNigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill Monday that bans gay marriage, gay rights groups and making “public show of same-sex amorous” relationships. The bill contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison.

Under existing Nigerian federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail, but this bill legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians, who already live a largely underground existence. …

“Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the bill says.

“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” by the law.

Follow updates on this story at Breaking News

Photo: Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan arrives for the service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank Stadium, also known as Soccer City, in Johannesburg Dec. 10, 2013.

US flights spot large groups of girls in Nigeria

WSJ: Large groups of girls have been spotted by recent US surveillance flights in remote locations of northeastern Nigeria, US and Nigerian officials say.

This new intelligence raises hopes that not all of the 219 kidnapped schoolgirls have been forced into marriage or sex slavery. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ruled out a rescue operation, saying it could risk the girls’ lives.

Photo: Rachel Daniel holds up a picture of her abducted daughter Rose Daniel, 17, at her home in Maiduguri, Nigeria, in May. Reuters via WSJ

Today in Book News: Random House is promising tweaks to Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl to clarify her use of pseudonyms in an essay on sexual assault.

Also in the news, Richard Flanagan is donating his share of a prestigious Australian literary prize to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in Australia.

And Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has been legally blocked from publishing his autobiography, according to the Nigerian Tribune. The Melville House blog explains that Obasanjo's My Watch won’t be hitting Nigerian store shelves next week because of a high-level libel dispute involving Obasanjo, current Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and a man named Buruji Kashamu, who is the chieftain of Nigeria’s ruling party.

Read more here.