Nigeria 'arrests abduction protest leaders'

First Lady accused of ordering arrest of women leading protests over abduction of 276 girls, saying incident fabricated.

    A leader of a protest march for 276 missing schoolgirls has said that Nigeria's First Lady ordered her and another protest leader to be arrested, expressing doubts that there had been any kidnapping and accused them of belonging to the group blamed for the abductions.

    Saratu Angus Ndirpaya, from of Chibok where the kidnappings took place, said state security service agents drove her and protest leader Naomi Mutah Nyadar to a police station on Monday after an all-night meeting at the presidential villa in Abuja, the capital.

    She said police immediately released her but that Nyadar remains in detention.

    A national police spokesman referred a journalist to the spokeswoman for police in Abuja. Reached on the phone, the spokeswoman said she was driving and could not immediately respond, the AP news agency reported.

    Other reports said three women had been arrested on Sunday night.

    Abductions fabricated

    Ndirpaya says First Lady Patience Jonathan accused them of fabricating the abductions.

    "She [Jonathan] told so many lies, that we just wanted the government of Nigeria to have a bad name, that we did not want to support her husband's rule," she said in a telephone interview with AP.

    Ndirpaya said other women at the meeting cheered and chanted "yes, yes," when the first lady accused them of belonging to Boko Haram, the group accused of kidnapping the girls.

    "They said we are Boko Haram, and that Mrs Nyadar is a member of Boko Haram."

    She said Nyadar and herself do not have daughters among those abducted, but are supporting the mothers of the kidnapped daughters.

    Boko Haram reponsible

    Boko Haram on Monday said it was responsible for the abduction of the 276 schoolgirls, the AFP news agency reported.

    "I abducted your girls," the group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by the agency, referring to the hundreds of students kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14.

    Fifty-three of the girls managed to escape from the fighters, who want to introduce Islamic law in the country, but 223 were still being held, state police said last Friday.

    The mass abduction and failure to rescue the girls, now in a fourth week of captivity, is a source of deep embarrassment to Jonathan and his government, which is accused of insensitivity to the girls' plight and not doing enough to rescue them.

    In a televised "media chat" on Sunday night, Jonathan promised his administration is doing everything possible and called for international help to find the girls.

    On Friday, he created a presidential committee to go to Borno state to work with the community on a strategy for the release of the girls.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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