Watch above: Boko Haram’s leader says he won’t release hundreds of schoolgirls unless the Nigerian government frees jailed members of his group. Sean Mallen reports.
A father of one of the girls who managed to escape the militant group, after the Apr. 14 mass abduction, told Nigeria’s ThisDay teachers at the school fled while the girls were left behind at the school in Chibok.
Watila Simon said he called his daughter, Godiya Simon, as word Boko Haram was attacking the town spread.
“I called my daughter in the school, asking, ‘Godiya, where are you?’ She told me she was in the hostel,” he recounted. “Then I said, but they are attacking the town and they have started burning houses and you are still in the school, and she said yes.”
Simon, who told ThisDay he was away at the time of the siege, said his daughter told him the militants had not yet attacked the school, but “all the teachers had left.”
“When the sound of gunshots started in the town, the teachers were still with them but they later took to their heels, locked them in and ran away,” he said. “She even told me that the teachers instructed them to stay put and not to run; then one of the teachers locked the gate so there was no way for them to escape.”
Godiya Simon said she and three other girls managed to escape from the militants’ hideout, in the Sambisa forest, after asking to go to the bathroom.
But this is just the latest claim that people in power didn’t do enough to prevent the mass abduction or to attempt to find the girls immediately after they were captured.
Waiting weeks to accept help
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan faced more criticism over the weekend as reports emerged his government was offered international assistance immediately following the abduction.
According to The Associated Press, the United Kingdom said it was ready to help on Apr. 15 and made a formal offer three days later.
Nigeria didn’t accept international help until last week.
That was the same case with help offered by the United States.
The Associated Press cited a senior State Department official saying the U.S. offered to assist “more or less right away.”
“We didn’t go public about it because the consensus was that doing so would make the Nigerians less likely to accept our help,” the official told AP.
Again, Nigerian officials have denied this was the case.
Amnesty International’s four-hour warning claim
The Nigerian government defended itself against a claim from Amnesty International last week that warnings of the Boko Haram attack came four hours before the assault on the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School.
“If the military authorities knew that there was going to be a strike 40 minutes away, I’m sure every conceivable effort would have been made to intervene,” Nigeria’s Minister of Information Labaran Maku said.
While doubting the report, Maku said Amnesty’s claims would be investigated.
Amnesty International said it based the claim on information the human rights organization gathered, including testimony from people who said they contacted military outposts about the arrival of militants in Chibok.
The human rights organization noted a contingent of local police in Chibok and 17 military personnel did try to take on Boko Haram after the attack got underway, but the militants overpowered the authorities and one soldier was reportedly killed.
*With files from The Associated Press
© Shaw Media, 2014