Monday, 14 July 2014

Nigeria moving closer to locating kidnapped schoolgirls.

The Nigerian authorities claim that they are "moving closer" to locating the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, as other kidnapped women and children escape from Boko Haram.

Last week, Sid Djinnit, the regional UN representative in Dakar, told the Security Council that escalating violence against civilians is both harming Nigeria and affecting regional security, and that there have been around 18 attacks attributed to Boko Haram in the preceding two weeks. Despite this, the government continues to claim progress against the insurgents.

The military claims, for example, that it is moving closer to rescuing the Chibok schoolgirls after a wave of recent arrests that were reported to the recent National Council of State meeting in Abuja. One military spokesman claimed at the weekend that over 50 Boko Haram members were killed by its forces at its Damboa military base in Bornu State which was actually attacked by the insurgents.

In addition, there have been reports that some women and children who were kidnapped last month have escaped. Some are being treated at an Adamawa State hospital while others escaped from Boko Haram while the latter’s forces were attacking the Damboa military base.

Boko Haram leaders and their claimed associates continue to suggest negotiations over the kidnapped girls. A Boko Haram spiritual teacher said earlier this week that the Chibok girls who were kidnapped in April are in good health, even voluntarily converting to Islam: he called for Boko Haram prisoners to be released as part of negotiations.

The US' FBI claims that proceeds from Niger Delta kidnappings may have been used to fund Boko Haram's activities and have reached the group via several intermediaries. A private intelligence company, Modern Security Consulting Group, cites evidence from Nigerian insiders that Boko Haram may provide support for kidnappings, perhaps assisting pirates in moving money or acquiring weapons.

This raises the prospect of security worsening in the Niger Delta ahead of the February 2015 elections, where there is likely to be a fierce electoral contest between the ruling PDP and opposition All Progressives' Congress.

Oil industry executives are often the target of Niger Delta kidnappings but earlier this week, Golden Chioma - a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly who chairs the Rivers State House Committee on Judiciary - was allegedly kidnapped by unidentified gunmen.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria or East Africa, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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