Nigerian president cancels trip to town where girls were abducted

This trip was seen as crucial for the Nigerian president after being accused neglecting the abductions and attacks by Boko Haram.
By Aileen Graef   |   May 16, 2014 at 3:31 PM   |   Comments

ABUJA, Nigeria, May 16 (UPI) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan abruptly canceled a visit to the town of Chibok Friday where some 300 schoolgirls were abducted, citing security concerns.

The road on which Jonathan would have traveled 80 miles to the town passes through areas mostly controlled by Boko Haram, as evidenced by burned schools and empty houses along the way.

"You begin to question what could be more important to the president than the lives of these students," Allen Manasseh, brother to one of the abducted girls, told the Guardian.

Alice Friend, principal director for African Affairs at the Pentagon, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday that the Nigerian government is not equipped to face Boko Haram.

"We're now looking at a military force that's, quite frankly, becoming afraid to even engage. The Nigerian military has the same challenges with corruption that every other institution in Nigeria does. Much of the funding that goes to the Nigerian military is skimmed off the top, if you will."

Jonathan is due to fly to Paris this weekend to participate in a summit along with Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, and representatives from the U.S., U.K. and EU to discuss how to deal with Boko Haram.

"We aren't in a military phase, but the goal of this summit is to prevent the expansion of Boko Haram in neighboring countries," a French official told the New York Times. "The idea is to establish a stronger cooperation between countries in the region because they are not used to working together, and it is the first time that they're all at the same table on security questions."

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