Approximately 187 girls (according to the BBC) or 234 girls (according to Smithsonian.com) were abducted over two weeks ago from a boarding school in Gwoza, a city in north-eastern Nigeria. Nigerian reporter Will Ross reports that the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, meaning “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, were supposed to be responsible for the kidnapping. The school from which the girls were abducted was the only school still open the region.
Nigeria is a very religious country with large Christian and Muslim communities. This type of terrorism is widespread. The recent Gwoza attack mimicked the abduction of 139 11-16 year-old girls in Northern Uganda in 1996. The girls were students at the Aboke school, St Mary’s. However, this abduction was executed by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian terrorist group. The LRA forced the girls to become “wives” of rebel officers. All but approximately four of the girls escaped and returned home as young mothers.
Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has spoken very little about the recent Gwoza school attack. Presidential advisor Reuben Abati was quoted as saying that some girls had been rescued, but according to Ross, the girls had escaped.
Soldiers who have been deployed to the Borno State are under-equipped and under-supported by their superiors. Some Nigerian analyst say that financial corruption may be why the soldiers are not equipped to stop the Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s budget for security this year is more than $6bn (£3.5bn) – double the allocation for education.
“The budget for defence is increasing but we don’t see that translating into better kit and security personnel…. so in a lot of ways the question is asked whether the resources that are budgeted for security are actually going into equipping the military to be prepared for this,” said Clement Nwankwo, a policy analyst.
The police are also supposed to play a key role in protecting civilians. If they were well resourced, the streets might not be plagued at night by policemen waving torches and begging for handouts from motorists.
Colin Schultz, writing for Smithsonian Smart News, says that no progress has been made in tracking the girls’ location in spite of a report that the girls had been freed. The Nigerian military was said to have found the girls and rescued them, as well as having captured one of the Boko Haram terrorists. This claim was made in error and was retracted. In fact, Voice of America has reported that the terrorists are threatening to kill the girls if the search for them does not cease.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram has been terrorizing the country for the past five years with a combination of brutal attacks and extreme violence. Eline Gordts, reporter for The Huffington Post, states that,”…the Islamic sect is moved by a determination to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria based on Sharia law, and it considers the area’s current leadership to be corrupt Muslims”.
Schools are not the only institutions which have been attacked. Other targets include government locations, aid workers, churches, mosques, among others.