Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 14 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Francisa de Paula de Jesus Isabel
home iconNews
line break icon

Nigerian schoolgirls set free, but kidnapping problem persists



John Burger - published on 03/23/18 - updated on 03/23/18

One girl is reportedly being held because she refuses to convert to Islam.

Between 76 and 104 school girls, depending on reports, have been freed by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

On Wednesday, the terrorist group returned the students, who were kidnapped February 19 from a girls’ technical school in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria.

Residents of Dapchi told the New York Times that when the militants dropped off the girls, they warned several residents that the girls should not be allowed to return to school.

Of the girls still being held by the militants, one reportedly is a Christian who has refused to convert to Islam, according to the BBC.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Twitter that the recent release of the Dapchi girls came as a result of “backchannel” negotiations and that no ransom was paid.

Information Minister Lai Mohammad told the BBC that the girls’ return was part of ongoing talks about an amnesty in return for a ceasefire. “We did not pay any ransom for the girls. We discussed with them the cessation of hostilities in return for possible amnesty,” he said.

“If [Boko Haram] returned and lay down their arms and renounce their membership of the insurgency, then we will give them free passage and they can return to society,” Mohammad said.

In spite of the good news that most of the girls were freed, the problem of kidnapping persists in the country.

“It is very sad to note that the spate of kidnapping in our country has risen to unimaginable proportion,” a statement from the Bishops Conference of Nigeria last month said. “Day after day, citizens are taken captive, humiliated and traumatized by heavily armed gangsters. No institution or individual is spared by kidnappers, no matter how old, sacred or highly placed.”

As a result, people live in constant fear and anxiety, the statement said.

“Kidnappers are ruthless, deadly and operate without any qualms of conscience. In their efforts to extort huge sums of money as ransom, they subject their victims to untold ordeals lasting weeks and even months.”

Many of the 276 school girls from the famous Chibok incident several years ago have been released, though more than 100 remain missing. Some were set free in exchange for suspected militants. There are also rumors of a large ransom paid, which critics fear could encourage more kidnappings.

“There is an urgent need to deal decisively with kidnappers and drastically curb their excesses,” the bishops conference said. “Given the effective security equipment available in the modern world of high technology, … our communities should be better policed by security agents, who are better equipped and well trained to handle the security challenge of kidnapping that is bringing our nation to its knees.”

Christians in AfricaNigeria
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
Miracle prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
Philip Kosloski
Offer your heart to Jesus with this prayer
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
The short prayer Pope Francis says every night
Philip Kosloski
5 Things to know about the Sacred Heart feast
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.