Nigerian bishops urge government to hasten effort to free abductees



LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — Two
Nigerian bishops called on the government to hasten its efforts to free 219
school girls who were abducted by insurgents two years ago.

Bishops Matthew Audu of Lafia and George Dodo of Zaria urged
officials to boost intelligence gathering efforts and muster the political will
to find the girls, who were taken from their dormitories by Boko Haram forces during
a middle-of-the-night raid at a school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria April
14, 2014.

The bishops told Catholic News
Service it is unlikely that all of the girls will be found because media have
reported that some had been killed or sold off to be married by the insurgents.
They urged the country to pray for the abductors so that they have a change of
heart and consider releasing the students.

New video images recently obtained
by CNN and apparently filmed on Christmas Day showed some of the girls dressed
in black robes pleading with the Nigerian government to cooperate with the militants
on their release. They said they were
being treated well but wanted to be with their families.

Family members and
friends identified some of the young people as students from the school.

The Catholic News Agency for Africa reported that relatives of the girls marched in the capital, Abuja, on
the anniversary, calling for government action.

“Only God knows what their
abductors might have done to them, where they would be by now. It might be true
that some might have been killed, some molested and some married out by their
abductors,” Bishop Audu said. “That we can still recover all those
abducted on … is not certain,” Bishop Audu said.

“That they are still within
the custody of their abductors after two years does no credibility to the
corporate image of Nigeria as a nation,” he added.

Bishop Audu, whose diocese is in
central Nigeria, called for a concerted effort from by world leaders, starting
from Nigeria’s neighbors in West Africa, to fight terrorism by contributing
forces and weapons to a multinational joint task force assembled to root out
the insurgents.

“World leaders must find ways
to block the sources of funding of the insurgents and those supplying them
those arms and ammunition which they use to attack legitimate governments and innocent
people,” he said.

Bishop Dodo, whose diocese is in
northern Nigeria, said that he was praying that missing girls would be
discovered. “I am not sure that we will be able to rescue all of them
after two years of their abduction. … If it we are fortunate, we may get some
of them back but not 100 percent,” he said.

He also expressed concern for
thousands of other internally displaced persons living in various refugee camps
who cannot return to their homes.

“The federal government
must also look into the plights of other Nigerian workers being owed several
months of unpaid salaries by their state governments,” he said.

“Many do not have money to
report for duties at their offices, the federal government should bail out the
state governments with financial assistance for them to fulfill their obligations
to their workers and citizens.”

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