Nigeria had notice of Boko Haram attack, says Amnesty

Security forces aware militants were going to Chibok hours before 300 girls kidnapped

Protestors demonstrate yesterday outside the Nigerian embassy in London against the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria. Photograph: Reuters/ Olivia Harris

Protestors demonstrate yesterday outside the Nigerian embassy in London against the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria. Photograph: Reuters/ Olivia Harris

Sat, May 10, 2014, 01:00

Nigerian security forces were aware that an armed convoy of Boko Haram militants was approaching the town of Chibok almost four hours before the extremists kidnapped 300 girls from a school in the town, Amnesty International has said.

The human rights group claimed the military had been warned an attack was imminent but did not send reinforcements because of a lack of resources and an unwillingness to engage with well-armed insurgents.

“The fact that Nigerian security forces knew about Boko Haram’s impending raid, but failed to take the immediate action needed to stop it, will only amplify the national and international outcry at this horrific crime,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty’s Africa director.

Shortly before dawn on April 15th, at least 300 girls were kidnapped after sitting their final exams at Chibok government secretary school, one of the only schools still open in the country’s northeast Borno state.

Several later escaped, but 276 girls are still believed to be in captivity.


Public anger
After almost two weeks of public anger at perceived government inaction, American and British anti-terrorism personnel began arriving in the Nigeria capital, Abuja, yesterday to help search for the girls.

Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday he believed the victims are still in Nigeria, and had not been moved across the border to Cameroon.

“There are stories that they have moved them outside of the country. But if they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see, so I believe they are still in Nigeria,” Mr Jonathan said.

Amnesty based its report on an interview with an army colonel and lieutenant colonel, and corroborated their accounts with local residents and local government officials.

“The information we received from them gave us a consistent account and timeline,” said Nigerian researcher Mamkid Kamara.


Allegations
A spokesman for the Nigerian army dismissed Amnesty’s report as a “rumours and allegations”. Gen Chris Olukoladu said: “They just want to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Their allegations are unfounded as usual.”

The UN Security Council yesterday expressed outrage at the abduction of the school girls, demanding their immediate release and threatening to take action against the insurgents.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their intention to actively follow the situation of the abducted girls and to consider appropriate measures against Boko Haram,” the 15-member council, which includes Nigeria, said in a statement.

The security council could blacklist Boko Haram and impose targeted sanctions on members of the group, diplomats said. – (Guardian service/Reuters)