Amnesty: Nigerian army failed to act before 110 girls abducted

A report by Amnesty International accuses the Nigerian army of failing to act on “advance warnings” given hours before Boko Haram militants abducted 110 girls from a school last month.

School girls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria. A report Tuesday by Amnesty International accuses the Nigerian army of failing to act on warnings of another mass abduction last month. File Photo by STR/EPA
School girls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria. A report Tuesday by Amnesty International accuses the Nigerian army of failing to act on warnings of another mass abduction last month. File Photo by STR/EPA

The human rights group alleges the army and police received at least five calls on Feb. 19, warning that gunmen were heading to the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi.

The report says witnesses and residents said they alerted army officials and police after seeing a convoy of gunmen heading toward the school.

Amnesty called for an investigation into the circumstances that led to the abductions of at least 110 girls after Boko Haram stormed the school. The Nigerian army rescued about 80 girls two days later at a border town between Borno and Yobe.

“The Nigerian authorities must investigate the inexcusable security lapses that allowed this abduction to take place without any tangible attempt to prevent it,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria director.

In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 270 girls from a school in the town of Chibok, and about 20,000 people have been killed since the terrorist group began its insurgency there in 2009.

One of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls was rescued in January and 82 were released in exchange for five top Boko Haram commanders last May. Twenty-one others had previously been freed after negotiations.

“Evidence available to Amnesty International suggests that there are insufficient troops deployed in the area, and that an absence of patrols and the failure to respond to warnings and engage with Boko Haram contributed to this tragedy,” Ojigho said.

“The Nigerian authorities have failed in their duty to protect civilians, just as they did in Chibok four years ago. Despite being repeatedly told that Boko Haram fighters were heading to Dapchi, it appears that the police and military did nothing to avert the abduction.”

By Susan McFarland