News - May 15, 2014

Kidnapping in Nigeria

In the news: In northern Nigeria more than 300 schoolgirls have been kidnapped in recent weeks. Responsibility has been claimed by Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram. The organization says it will release the girls in exchange for imprisoned gang members.

Commentary by Jide Owolodun, a PhD student of Veterinary Epidemiology from Nigeria.

‘This is not good for my country’s reputation, of course. I continually hear bad news from friends and family; I am in daily contact with them. Last week there was even a bomb attack in the capital, with many victims as a result. If they are capable of this, what else can we expect? Most kidnappings take place in the north of the country. In the south people are generally better educated and there are fewer religious conflicts.

The terrorist organization behind this disaster is extremely dangerous. They call themselves Boko Haram, which literally means “western education is bad”. This group’s main objective is the islamization of the country. Everyone who is against that is seen as the enemy. The kidnapped teenage girls could be both Christians and Muslims.  Dreadful to think what these men might do with the girls, probably including rape. I myself am a Christian but less than 20 kilometres from my birthplace is an area with a lot of Muslims. There is a prolonged conflict going on between the two groups and no one has any idea when it will end. In Jos, the main town in my region, more than 20 churches have been attacked in the last few years, with many deaths. In order to go to church safely on a Sunday we depend on road blocks and soldiers.

I don’t think the government is doing enough against Boko Haram. When the group grew up a few years ago, the government should  have knocked it on the head straightaway. Now it already has too much power. The girls were kidnapped three weeks ago now and they haven’t been found yet. The army or police should take action. Fortunately the French and American government have promised to help.’