President Goodluck Jonathan has met for the first time with many parents of 219 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and dozens of classmates who managed
to escape from their Islamic extremist captors.
Tuesday's meeting came after some parents had refused to meet Nigeria's leader last week. For months, they have been asking to see the president
and he finally acceded to a request from Pakistani girls' education activist Malala Yousafzai, who had met the parents.
Jonathan blamed activists of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign for politicising the abductions and influencing the parents. The parents said they needed time to decide who would attend.
Chibok community spokesman Lawan Abana said there were 177 people in the delegation meeting Jonathan and an AP reporter counted 51 of the 57 girls who escaped in the early days after the abduction on 15 April.
At least 11 of the parents have died since then –seven in a village attack this month and four of heart attacks and other illnesses that the Chibok
community blames on the trauma.
Jonathan was accompanied by the education and finance ministers, and his national security adviser.
Jonathan and his team walked to a stage above the waiting parents and girls, and journalists were asked to leave. Also present was governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, from where the girls were abducted. Shettima has accused Jonathan of not doing enough to save the girls and has angered the government with his charges that Boko Haram fighters are better armed and more motivated than Nigeria's military.
Some of the parents and community leaders of the Chibok town from which the girls were kidnapped have made public statements urging Jonathan to negotiate with the girls' captors. Boko Haram is demanding a swap for detained fighters in exchange for the girls. So far, Jonathan has refused.