The militant Islamist group Boko Haram continues to pose a grave threat to Nigerian society five months after the abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls, a law expert from the country warned. “Boko Haram continues to attack their communities and about a dozen parents of missing girls have already died in the five months since their abduction,” Emmanuel Ogebe, managing partner of the U.S.-Nigeria Law Group, told CNA Sept. 24. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western Education Is Sinful,” has been responsible for thousands of deaths since 2009, with at least 2,000 deaths attributed to the group in 2014. The organization has targeted security forces, politicians, Christian minorities, and other Muslims in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north. In April, the terrorist group kidnapped almost 300 girls from a school in Chibok, in the north-east of Nigeria. About 60 of the girls escaped in the days that followed, but most remain missing. On Sept. 23, the Nigerian army said that some of the girls had been released; however, it later retracted its statement, according to the BBC. Ogebe, an international human rights lawyer and U.S.-Nigerian relations expert, also warned that “Nigerian intelligence has alerted the public on the theft of a dozen nuns' habits,” saying that the government fears the habits will be used in church attacks. He noted that Boko Haram has already launched attacks against many churches, with one diocese losing 2,500 members. The Nigerian bishops have also stressed the need to address the threat of Boko Haram. In a Sept. 24 statement, leaders of the Nigerian Conference of Catholic Bishops voiced alarm at the situation and emphasized the need to work against the group’s acts. “As Nigeria tragically bleeds and burns, we Bishops are really alarmed at the scale of human, material destruction, and the disruption of village and community life with increased levels of hatred and potentials for more conflicts in the nation,” they said, noting that while Muslims have also faced attacks, non-Muslims and Christians “are the principal targets for extermination, expropriation and expulsion.” They called on the government to “do more than it is currently doing to fight off and disarm these actual destroyers of Nigerians and Nigeria.” Ogebe pointed to U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent statements on ISIS and terrorism as a call to also address the same “brand of evil” displayed by Boko Haram. “We need concerted global action to counter both and their ilk,” he said.
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