Little is left of the girls’ school in Nigeria’s rural northeast which is currently headlining in the world’s media — the school where a terror group seized hundreds of schoolgirls hostages last month.
While Boko Haram condemns what it calls ‘Western education’, it gives lessons in ashes and abduction.
In Africa’s biggest economy the girls have been missing for more than three weeks.
Their government insists it has dedicated special resources to finding them but it has, finally, accepted western and Chinese assistance offers.
One girl, who escaped while most were taken away, said: “We thought they were soldiers, and they asked us to get into a vehicle. My friends and I jumped out because they looked suspicious.”
In April, Africa’s most populous nation assumed the prestigious UN Security Council presidency for one month, yet the government’s failure to protect the girls amplifies that, at home, human rights violations are terrorising ordinary Nigerians, perhaps worst of all women.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted and threatened in a video: “I took the girls. Girls, go and get married! Leave western education, ladies! I took the girls, and I will sell them!”
Boko Haram is considered to be behind hundreds of attacks since 2009, killing more than 1,600 people. It wants to impose its view of Islamic law.
Human Rights Watch cites numerous global bodies deploring the deterioration in Nigeria into armed conflict, with abuses by government forces as well. For instance, founder of the group Mohammed Yusuf was summarily executed five years ago outside a police station.
Boko Haram’s official full name in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”.
The International Red Cross and International Criminal Court have described the group’s actions as crimes against humanity and war crimes, writes Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty, adding: ‘No responsible government can sit back and do nothing in the face of such unfolding horror.’
Shekau, according to some sources an intellectual and theologian, said in the video: “We support all the attacks on western education, promise to burn down schools that are not of God and the prophets. They are there to fight Islam.”
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay has told the Nigerian government it is legally responsible for ensuring that girls and boys have the fundamental right to education, and for protecting them from violence, persecution and intimidation.
The rumoured price per girl for sale is less than nine euros.