Goodluck Jonathan cancels Chibok visit

The president was due to visit to the village from which more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Picture: GCIS.

ABUJA - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has cancelled his first visit to the village from which more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram a month ago due to security fears, senior government sources said on Friday.

Jonathan will instead fly directly from the capital Abuja to Paris on Friday for a regional summit to discuss the Boko Haram insurgency and wider insecurity and will not now make a stop in the northeastern village of Chibok, said one of the sources.

"The president was planning to go but security advised otherwise on the visit," said the source of the last-minute decision to cancel the Chibok part of the trip.

Some Nigerians have criticised the government's initial response to the plight of the girls, who were abducted on 14 April, and US officials this week said the government had done too little to adapt to the threat posed by Boko Haram.

Jonathan asked France last week to arrange a 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.

The summit will take place on Saturday.

Jonathan, the former vice-president, assumed the presidency of Africa's most populous nation in 2010 on the death in office of his predecessor Umaru Yar'Adua and won an election the following year. Nigeria will go to the polls again next year.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality is expected to hold a silent solidarity protest in support of the kidnapped girls in Johannesburg this afternoon.

In Cape Town residents earlier held a vigil outside St George's Cathedral.

Holding up posters reading 'Together we stand' and 'bring back our girls', several people observed a period of silence on the steps of the cathedral.

In the crowd of mostly schoolchildren and members of the religious community, a young girl wept openly.

An expressionless Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba led today's 40-minute vigil and condemned the abductions.

"But in condemning we shouldn't be immobilised. We need to go out there and ensure they are returned safely."

As a father of two teenagers, Makgoba said it was a situation that affected the heart.

The ANC Women's League is also expected to hold a picket outside the cathedral later today.