UK & World News

  • 16 May 2014, 11:45

Nigeria Leader Cancels Visit To Girls' Village

Nigeria's president has cancelled a planned visit to the village from which nearly 300 girls were kidnapped due to security fears.

The visit was to be Goodluck Jonathan's first visit to Chibok, the village from where 276 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram rebels a month ago - a number have since escaped.

"The president was planning to go but security advised otherwise on the visit," said the source of the last-minute decision to cancel.

Instead, Mr Jonathan is flying direct from the capital, Abuja, to Paris for a regional summit to discuss Boko Haram and wider security issues.

Sky News Special Correspondent Alex Crawford, who is in Chibok, said the families of the kidnapped girls were "very upset and very angry" at the cancellation.

She said: "As one father of an abducted girl told me: 'If it's not safe enough for the president of Nigeria to come to Chibok, how on earth does he feel about us residents of Chibok living here?'

"The families are feeling very, very helpless and growing increasingly angry at what they still feel is the lack of efforts to try and track down their missing daughters.

"...The parents pointed out the girls were in the capable hands of the government, it wasn't as it they were at home with us, they were in a school where we expected them to be safe."

She went on: "There was a sighting of truckfuls of the girls several hours after they were taken when the militants' truck broke down in the neighbouring school and still no-one came out to help them and no-one was able to stop them."

Boko Haram's leader last week threatened in a video to sell the girls into slavery unless the government freed rebels being held - the president said he would not do so.

A total of 223 are still missing and the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed in a video released this week that some 130 had now converted to Islam.

A social media campaign has galvanised international pressure on Nigeria to mount a rescue operation with Britain, the US, France and Israel all sending teams and equipment to help.

But the president's cancellation is expected to draw further criticism of the government's handling of the crisis.

The US has been critical of Nigeria's "slow" response to the kidnapping, saying resolving the crisis was not "one of the highest priorities of the US government".