Nigeria: prayers urged for abducted schoolgirls

Soldiers stand guard in front of the school in Chibok, Nigeria, where 200 students were abducted last week. Most of them are still missing. (PHOTO: Haruna Umar/AP)
Soldiers stand guard in front of the school in Chibok, Nigeria, where 200 students were abducted last week. Most of them are still missing. (PHOTO: Haruna Umar/AP)

By Open Doors SA

The Christian enclave of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria has been thrown into mourning over the mass abduction of girls from a secondary school last week. “Almost every family had a student in the school. Cries of parents could be heard all over the town as they prayed for God’s intervention in their tragic circumstances,” reports Open Doors workers in Nigeria.

Gunmen suspected to be members of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram swooped into Chibok at 10pm on April 14 in seven vans. Some of the attackers set government and other buildings ablaze, while others went to the senior secondary school where they overpowered the security guards before forcing the students into busses and a truck.

Some of the girls, between the ages of 16 and 20, belong to various churches in the area. Although State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, declared that 77 girls are missing after 52 had been accounted for, the head teacher at the school, Asabe Kwambura, said the figure is much higher. She said parents reported 230 girls missing with 40 having escaped since the abduction.

The federal government has challenged Borno security agents to do everything possible to rescue these girls. Governor Shettima has offered a reward of $50 000 for information leading to the rescue of the girls.

The zonal chairman of the northeastern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Shuaibu Byal, has urged the federal government and security agents to intensify efforts to rescue the remaining abducted secondary school girls.

“I am not sure of what our daughters are going through. Please help us to pray and seek the face of the Lord over this situation and that the good Lord will reunite us with our beloved children,” elder Emma in Chibok said when speaking with Open Doors, following the abductions.

The kidnappings are believed to have been carried out by Nigeria’s Islamic rebels, known as Boko Haram. The group is violently campaigning to establish an Islamic Sharia state in Nigeria. Boko Haram has been abducting some girls and young women in attacks on schools, villages and towns, but last week’s mass kidnapping is unprecedented. The extremists use the young women as porters, cooks and sex slaves, according to Nigerian officials.

Nigeria is listed #14 on this year’s Open Doors World Watch List.