Nigerian government ‘sympathizes’ with Boko Haram
New claims that parts of the Nigerian government share the anti-Christian convictions of Boko Haram have emerged since the group’s abduction of hundreds of school girls, most of who were Christian and are still missing, one month after the incident.
“Many Nigerians will tell you that they don’t trust the military. Some of the military and police have sympathies with Boko Haram,” said Samuel Dali, the Pastor and the President of the EYN Church of the Brethren in Mubi while speaking with the BBC World Service on May 14. “Most of the police are Muslim and some of them are sympathizers with the insurgents.”
Dali said many of the parents are “disappointed in the government and wondering if they will ever get these girls back,” especially since they have not received any consultation and claim to be treated as if the abduction never happened, aside from a visit from the Governor of Borno State immediately afterward.
Though rumors of an imminent attack ran through Chibok village before the April 14 kidnappings, Dali said government complicity with Boko Haram is the reason why little military resistance was offered. He said he understands the seriousness of his allegations, but said it’s a reality because Boko Haram has “infiltrated all of the cabinets of the government.”
Instead, Dali said, parents are putting their hopes in international assistance. “The news of the international community coming has also raised their hopes, and they believe that justice will be found through the international community,” he said.
Sharon Ikeazor, a representative of the Nigerian opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, visited London last week asking for help.
“It’s been an agonizing 30 days,” she told the BBC. “The first ten days were critical. They [the government] could have gotten them back. To us, if after 30 days they haven’t gotten them back we sense that they are overwhelmed.”
During an interview with the BBC she was asked why the government has been unable to bring back the girls and Ikeazor said it’s due to their lack of ‘willpower’ and proven by a sequence of events starting before the kidnapping, “It’s not easy to move 30 girls much less 300 girls… They were woken up in the middle of the night and herded into trucks, some of the trucks broke down along the way – in fact some of the villagers made phones calls. And you heard the Amnesty International report that they had four hours to respond and nothing was done, so they [the government and military] haven’t done enough.”
According to Amnesty International, Nigeria’s military headquarters was aware of the impending attack soon after 7 p.m. on April 14, close to four hours before Boko Haram began its assault on the school housing the girls.
Borno Gov. Kashim Shettima, agreed, telling the BBC that “The first few days were the most critical… Some of the cars and lorries that the girls were herded into broke down along the road, it was in that process that some of the girls managed to escape, about 53 girls escaped, some escaped while they were pitching water and so on.”
The federal government had only “woken up” to Boko Haram’s abduction of the hundreds of schoolgirls when there was global outcry; Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan only called for a discussion 19 days after the abduction because of the international attention said Shettima.
Ikeazor said the reason the girls are still missing is largely due to the military being ‘demoralized’ and ‘corrupt’ and therefore they are ‘not willing to risk their lives’ against the better-equipped Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
“The most important thing is getting the girls back alive and that is why we are asking for international help”, Shettima said.
Several countries are providing assistance to the search effort, though the Nigerian government has shown some reluctance. CNN has reported that U.S. drones and manned surveillance aircraft are being used.
CNN also reported that, following the security summit on May 17 in Paris, Nigeria agreed with its four neighboring countries to share intelligence and border surveillance. The United States, United Kingdom and the European Union will provide technical expertise and training to the new regional African effort against Boko Haram.