Africa

Chibok girls kidnap: Nigerian president orders new investigation

Parents of the Chibok girls attend the meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many of the parents were overcome with emotion during the audience with President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a new investigation into the kidnap of about 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok by the Islamist Boko Haram group in April 2014.

Earlier on Thursday the parents of some of the girls had met Mr Buhari after marching through the capital Abuja.

The military has freed hundreds of Boko Haram captives in recent months, but none of the Chibok girls.

The government has faced criticism for the lack of progress in finding them.

"I assure you that I go to bed and wake up every day with the Chibok girls on my mind," Mr Buhari told the parents who visited him, according to a statement from his office.

He pointed to the sacking of the heads of Nigeria's army, navy and air force in July 2015 as proof of his determination to have the girls found.

"In spite of the dire financial straits that we found the country in, I continue to do my best to support their efforts in that regard," he added.

The new probe will be led by a panel appointed by the Nigeria's national security adviser and will look into the circumstances of the kidnapping and the government's response.

The government says it does not know where the girls are or if they are alive.

The teenagers were seized from their dormitories in the north-eastern town of Chibok.

In December Mr Buhari said he was prepared to negotiate with Boko Haram militants to secure the release of the girls.

The militants regard the girls as their most invaluable captives and their leader, Abubakar Shekau, said last year that most of them had converted to Islam and had been married off.

Although Boko Haram has been driven out from most of the areas it controlled in north-eastern Nigeria, it has continued to carry out suicide bombings and raids into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.


Image copyright Boko Haram video
Image caption Boko Haram has sworn allegiance to Islamic State and often displays its trademark black flag

Boko Haram at a glance:

  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS's "West African province"
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory this year

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