Nigeria schoolgirls kidnap: President Goodluck Jonathan to meet families of those abducted by Boko Haram

Families of some of the missing schoolgirls in north-east Nigeria are preparing to meet the country’s President today, more than a month after their children were abducted.

President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to make an official visit to the village of Chibok today after mounting political pressure to show his face in the place where the extremist group Boko Haram seized hundreds of girls last month.

Mr Jonathan has been pilloried for his failure to appear in Borno state since the first group of girls were seized on 14 April. His critics argue the prolonged absence shows he does not care about the remote communities affected. As international attention on the plight of the abducted girls has risen, so too has pressure on the President to make a public show that he is bothered by their disappearance and is doing something about it.

 

Mr Jonathan asked France to arrange a Paris security summit last week with neighbours Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, and officials from America, Britain and the EU to discuss a co-ordinated response. He is expected to fly to Paris shortly after today’s visit in Chibok.

The Nigerian government’s handling of the threat from Boko Haram has also come under international criticism. A senior US Defence Department official hit out at the nation’s failure to deal with the Islamic extremist group. Alice Friend, the Pentagon’s principal director for African affairs, said: “In general Nigeria has failed to mount an effective campaign against Boko Haram.” She added that Washington had been “deeply concerned” for some time by how much the Nigerian government had “struggled to keep pace with Boko Haram’s growing capabilities”.

Ms Friend said it was more troubling that Nigerian security forces were committing atrocities during operations against the group, which means American human rights law would bar providing any assistance.

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