LONDON – It has been eight weeks since the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from their school dormitories in Chibok, in northern Nigeria’s Borno State. The geopolitical implications are now ramifying across Africa.
Chad, Niger, and Cameroon are being drawn into the crisis, owing to growing suspicion that some of the girls are being held on their territory. And, though a recently signed memorandum of understanding offers Nigeria security assistance from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other powers, residents of remote villages in northern Nigeria, fearful of night raids by Boko Haram and running out of food and supplies, are fleeing to mountain caves or bigger towns.
The governor of Borno State is warning that failure to help his embattled schools will be disastrous for the rule of law throughout Nigeria. Already, the country is being called the “kidnap capital of the world,” with 1,000 reported abductions in the last year alone.
We might have assumed that eight weeks after the schoolgirls were taken, there would be a glimmer of hope. But former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed a widely shared fear that many of the girls will never be returned to their parents. Indeed, little information has seeped out about the girls’ whereabouts, and much of the intelligence remains shrouded in secrecy for fear of terrorist reprisals.