Nigerian President Refused Immediate Help to Find Missing Girls

According to the Associated Press, Goodluck Jonathan initially refused international assistance in searching for the more than 200 missing schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. 

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks during a joint press briefing with the Chinese prime minister at the presidential villa in Abuja on May 7, 2014. 

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

On April 15 the Islamist militant group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from a village in Nigeria, and the next day, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, whom the Associated Press reports was fully aware of the mass abductions, was photographed dancing at an event.

According to AP, the Nigerian president did not publicly mention the mass abduction. In his Easter Day message some five days later, Jonathan would mention only concern for those affected by a bombing in the Nigerian capital of Abuja that had killed some 75 people earlier that same week.

AP reports that not only did Jonathan wait almost two weeks before responding to the mass kidnapping—a response that many believe was prompted more by global outrage than by his own sense of urgency—but he initially turned down international offers to help find the missing girls. 

A day after the abductions, the United Kingdom offered its assistance in a news release, AP reports. On April 18 the nation would make an official offer of assistance, according to the British Foreign Office. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been adamant in his insistence that the U.S. has not only offered help but has also kept in contact with Nigeria "from day 1" of the incident.

The news that Jonathan would accept international offers for assistance from the U.S., Britain, France and China in locating the girls came almost a month after their disappearance and underscores a global sentiment that the Nigerian government and military have lacked a sense of urgency since reports of the abductions, AP reports.

"For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place," Enoch Mark, father of two girls who were taken from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School, told AP. "They camped them near Chibok, not more than 30 kilometers, and no help in hand. For a good 11 days."

Several outraged fathers banded together after news of the kidnapping spread and began searching the dense Sambisa Forest looking for their daughters. The efforts were halted after villagers warned that their pursuit could prove tragic for both them and their girls if Boko Haram found out.

Forest dwellers reportedly told some of the missing girls' parents that they did not see soldiers searching for them.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told AP on Sunday that the Nigerian government has been "disturbingly slow" and has issued a "halfhearted response" in trying to find the missing girls.

In a video seen by AP, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau referred to the girls as slaves and vowed to sell them into marriage for $12.

Boko Haram also took credit for the May 4 raid of two villages and the abduction of at least 11 more girls ages 12 to 15, AP reports.

"It is very painful. I know my daughter, very obedient and very religious ... she wanted to be a doctor," Mark said. "I was eager to see my daughter with such a hope. Now ... I don't know what I can explain to the world."

Read more at the Associated Press.

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