Nigerian president to visit town where girls were seized


Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan will on Friday visit the northeastern village where more than 200 schoolgirls were seized a month ago by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram, senior government officials said.

It will be Jonathan’s first visit since the kidnappings to Chibok, epicentre of a growing international effort to rescue the girls. Officials said he would travel on to a regional security summit in Paris at which Boko Haram will be discussed. Jonathan is under pressure to crush the rebels, who have killed thousands in their campaign for an Islamist state, and to free the girls, whose abduction has sparked global outrage. The Nigerian government has come under criticism for its slow response to the kidnappings.

Jonathan asked France last week to arrange a Paris security summit with neighbours Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, and officials from the United States, Britain and the European Union to discuss a coordinated response. Nigeria’s house of representatives on Thursday approved the president’s request for a six-month extension of a state of emergency in three northeastern states where the military is battling Islamist militants. Jonathan had asked parliament on Tuesday for the extension of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, saying the security situation remain daunting with persistent attacks on civilians and military. After meeting Nigeria’s senior military and security officials, speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said the request was approved by the lower house after a vote. Northern Senators and the governors of Yobe and Adamawa states have however, oppose the request, arguing that the state of emergency has not been effective since it was declared in May last year and renewed in November. The Senate, the upper house, is due to debate and vote on Tuesday, Senator Smart Adeyemi told Reuters.