A woman holds a sign during a protest demanding the release
of abducted secondary schoolgirls from the remote village
of Chibok, in Lagos. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
The leader of Boko Haram has threatened to sell more than
200 schoolgirls his Islamist militant group kidnapped in
northeastern Nigeria last month.
Boko Haram militants stormed an all-girl secondary school in
the village of Chibok, in Borno state, on April 14 and packed
the teenagers, who had been taking exams, on to trucks and
disappeared into a remote area along the border with
The attack shocked Nigerians, who have been growing
accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly
bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north.
"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by
Allah," Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in a video,
chuckling as he stands in front of an armoured personnel
carrier with two masked militants wielding AK-47s on either
side of him.
"Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property
and I will carry out his instructions," he says.
Boko Haram, seen as the main security threat to Nigeria,
Africa's leading energy producer, is growing bolder and
extending its reach. The kidnapping occurred on the day a
bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on
the edge of Abuja, the first attack on the capital in two
The group's name means "Western education is sinful" and
Shekau in the video makes reference to the fact that the
girls were undergoing Western education.
The militants, who say they are fighting to reinstate a
medieval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, carried out a
second bomb attack more than two weeks later in the same
area, killing 19 people and wounding 34 in the suburb of
The girls' abduction has been hugely embarrassing for the
government and threatens to overshadow its first hosting of
the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa on May 7-9.
Nigerian officials had hoped the event would highlight their
country's potential as an investment destination since it
became Africa's biggest economy after a GDP recalculation in
The apparent powerlessness of the military to prevent the
attack or find the girls in three weeks has led to protests
in the northeast and in Abuja and Lagos.
On Sunday, authorities arrested a leader of a protest staged
last week in Abuja that had called on them to do more to find
the girls, further fuelling outrage against the security
Naomi Mutah Nyadar was picked up by police after a meeting
she and other campaigners held with President Goodluck
Jonathan's wife, Patience, concerning the girls.
Nyadar was taken to Asokoro police station, near the
presidential villa, said fellow protester Lawan Abana, whose
two nieces are among the abductees. She was released later on
Monday and police said she had merely been invited in for an
A presidency source said Nyadar had been detained because she
had falsely claimed to be the mother of one of the missing
girls. Abana said she had made no such claim.
In a statement, Patience Jonathan denied local media reports
that she had ordered Nyadar's arrest but urged the protesters
in Abuja to go home, the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria
"You are playing games. Don't use school children and women
for demonstrations again. Keep it to Borno, let it end
there," the agency quoted her as saying.
Protests continued in Abuja on Monday and spread to Lagos,
Nigeria's commercial hub in the southwest and geographically
as far away from the region troubled by Boko Haram as
Lagosians normally express a degree of shoulder-shrugging
apathy about the violence plaguing the north, but on Monday
hundreds gathered outside the Lagos state secretariat to
demand security forces do more to rescue the girls.
"This is the beginning. Until the girls are back, we will
continue. I think this is the first step and we will mobilise
more and more people," said Charlotte Obidairo of Youth
Empowerment and Development Nigeria, a non-governmental
Protests could become a major headache for the government if
they continue and coincide with the WEF event, where security
arrangements will involve some 6,000 troops.
At least two people were killed in an attack by suspected
Boko Haram militants on a military police outpost in northern
Cameroon on Monday, a government spokesman said. The group
has been using Cameroon's Far North region as a base for
attacks in Nigeria.
In a televised "media chat" on Sunday, President Jonathan
pledged that the girls would soon be found and released, but
admitted he had no clue where they were.
"Let me reassure the parents and guardians that we will get
their daughters out," he said, adding extra troops had been
deployed and aircraft mobilized in the hunt for the girls.
Britain and the United States have both offered to help track
down the girls, but neither has given specifics.