World Tour – Kidnapped in Nigeria, and Sarkozy convicted

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: WORLD Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Nigerian children kidnapped, returned—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Sound of voices]

Nearly 300 girls kidnapped from a boarding school in northwestern Nigeria on Friday returned home Tuesday.

AUDIO: [Girl speaking Hausa]

This girl said the kidnappers forced them to walk a long way and threatened to kill anyone who tried to escape. No group has claimed responsibility but officials are blaming bandits motivated by hopes of getting a ransom.

Officials urged parents not to use the kidnapping as an excuse to keep their children out of school. But parents say the government is not doing enough to keep kids safe. 

This is the third school attack in Nigeria in the last three months.

Bandits kidnapped another group of students several hundred miles to the south nearly two weeks earlier. They were freed on Friday. Officials deny paying a ransom for the 38 victims, but security experts doubt those claims.

Former French president convicted—Next we go to Europe.

AUDIO: [Sounds of camera shutters, “Mr. Sarkozy! Mr. Sarkozy!”]

A French court has convicted former President Nicolas Sarkozy of corruption. The judge found he conspired with a friend to convince another judge to share information about a legal investigation.

Sarkozy’s lawyer says he plans to appeal.

AUDIO: [Woman speaking French]

The judge ordered Sarkozy to serve three years, with two of those suspended. He can serve the remaining year at home with electronic monitoring.

The conviction could put an end to Sarkozy’s political ambitions. Supporters had hoped he would run again in 2022.

Political unrest roils Armenia—Next we go east to Armenia.

AUDIO: [Shouting crowd]

Dueling rallies filled the capital Yerevan on Monday. Supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan faced off with crowds demanding his resignation.

Unrest in the country stems from frustration over a peace deal signed in November with neighboring Azerbaijan. It ended six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. But it required Armenia to give up control of large swaths of territory it held for more than 25 years.

The former Soviet state has strong ties with Europe, but Russia still holds a strong sway over its leaders. Armenia relies on Moscow’s financial and military support.

Pope Francis to visit Iraq—And finally, we end today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Sounds of men talking, working]

Iraq is preparing for a first-ever papal visit at the end of the week. Despite security and pandemic concerns, Pope Francis will arrive on Friday and stay for four days. He called the trip important for encouraging the country’s Christian communities, among the oldest in the world.

Louis Raphael Sako, heads the Chaldean Catholic Church.

SAKO: Christians, he will encourage them to persevere, to stay persevere, and also to rebuild the trust with their neighbors.

The pope will visit several major cities, including Baghdad, Erbil, and Mosul. Officials in the Nineveh plains are working to find an open-air venue for him to hold mass because the area does not have a cathedral or stadium large enough.

Many of the country’s churches remain in ruins after ISIS attacks.

That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

(AP Photo/Michel Euler) Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives at the courtroom Monday, March 1, 2021 in Paris.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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