Clamour for rescue of abducted schoolgirls

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By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
As the search for the over 235 school girls who were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists continues with no hope for the past three weeks, students in Borno state led by Comrade Yusuf Tom and Miss Fatima Zanna Maliki had given government 40 days, which is expected to lapse on May 24, 2014, stating that, if by then the girls were not released, they are going to mobilise students nationwide and gather at the Ramat Square in Maiduguri, where they hope to go on hunger strike until government does everything within it’s power to release the abducted students.

This is even as residents and some government officials in Maiduguri have expressed dismay over alleged “ill treatment” of Borno State officials at the Presidency in Abuja during interrogation over the abduction.

The students who condemn in strong terms the abduction of the female students also urged the Federal Government to step up its effort towards speedy resolution of the security challenges in the country, as it has taken so long and it’s constantly taking different dimensions.

A woman in purdah olds a sign as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as "slaves". "I abducted your girls," the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, AFP

A woman in purdah olds a sign as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as “slaves”. “I abducted your girls,” the Islamist group’s leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, AFP

The youths who briefed journalists in Maiduguri last Monday said, Borno State is under the state of emergency rule and by this pronouncement as provided in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria section 305, all other powers bestowed on the governor of the state are suspended, which also translate to the fact that, the Federal Government is the only entity solely responsible for all security situation in the state and as such, the stakeholders should stop passing blame and face the task of securing the release of the abducted female students.

While answering questions from journalists, the students also said that they are not quoting section 305 which suspends all powers bestowed on the governor as a means of calling on the Presidency to replace the governor with a military administrator, but that, they are appealing to the presidency to ensure that, it uses the military powers at its disposal under the emergency rule to check the activities of insurgents as well as ensure the release of the Chibok girls in the custody of Boko Haram Insurgents.

The students who also commended the efforts of the civilian JTF towards ensuring return of peace in the state capital also called on youths in the state to be law abiding and embrace peaceful means in addressing their grievances.

They also said that, in the view of the fore going, they are mobilizing their fellow students from all schools across Borno State on May 7, 2014, which according to them, would be a lecture free day for them to sympathize with themselves and families of the abducted girls and other victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the state and northeast in general.

Likewise, a protest letter signed by Mohammed Bashir Shuwa, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kashim Shettima on ICT and Alhaji Aliyu Biu, a retired secretary in the state civil service  which was made available to newsmen says they have reservations over the “degrading manner in which Borno state government officials were chastised and reduced to nothing by the presidency.”

It would be recalled that last Friday, 2nd May, 2014, President Jonathan had invited some government officials to the presidency. Governor Shettima, the state commissioner of Education, Alhaji Inuwa Kubo, some security officials, the Principal of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, the Chairman Chibok Local Government Council and the Divisional Police Officer of Chibok as well as the Chief Security Officer of the school went.

According to the protest letter, “Upon their arrival at the presidential villa on Saturday May, 3rd 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan personally interrogated these key officials from 9pm to 2 am as if all the official information relayed to him by his security apparatus in Borno were meaningless, unreliable and suspicious. At the end of the interrogation, President Goodluck Jonathan (with the exception of Shettima) handed over these officials to the Inspector General of Police with the clear instructions to do his job. These officials were driven to the Force Headquarters where they were detained and made to make written statements on how the girls were abducted and later released on bail on self recognition as if they were directly or indirectly responsible for the abduction of their own children.

“The following Sunday May, 5th, 2014, they were again taken to the villa at 5pm for further interrogation and this time by the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan. While at the villa, they remained standing for four hours after which they were ushered in into the First Lady’s chambers where they were treated to verbal assaults as to the veracity of their claims on how the school girls were abducted to the admiration of her cheer leaders including the president of market women association and Ms Onyeka Onwenu as well as some members of the northern governors wives association present.

Abuja : Former Nigerian Education Minister and Vice-President of the World Bank's Africa division (3r L) Obiageli leads a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom in Abuja on April 30, 2014.

Abuja : Former Nigerian Education Minister and Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division (3r L) Obiageli leads a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom in Abuja on April 30, 2014.

“One would have expected that the first lady would have sympathized with these government officials for the traumatic event they went through but unfortunately, they were subjected to all sorts of
embarrassing humiliation.

“The sum total of the first lady’s vituperation appeared to be directed toward negativity and substituting facts with fiction in order to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Also attempts made to play on religious sentiments failed woefully having realized that the girls abducted came from various religious groups.

“As if that was not enough, the first lady made a number of threatening remarks including the order to security officials to arrest some women protesters and shouting down on the state director of State Security Service and other officials whom she allegedly libelled as a Boko Haram sympathizer. She also ordered all the officials to resign their appointments forthwith on their return to their respective duty posts.

“This is highly unfortunate and totally unacceptable because the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has not mentioned or given any clearly defined responsibility, role or power to first ladies to issue such directives or exercise the powers of the state chief executive directly or indirectly or otherwise. The first ladies are enjoying the current privileges, courtesy of their husband’s position.

“This official highhandedness exhibited by Dame Patience Jonathan is primitive and unconstitutional and therefore totally unacceptable. Similarly the president also needs to clarify the grounds on which he
ordered for the detention and interrogation of the key government officials from Borno State who were equally victims of the insurgency in Borno State.“In view of the foregoing, we call on the International Community to ask President Goodluck Jonathan to explain to the world why he appeared to have doubts as the security information sent to him by his own security apparatus and decided to descend on Borno State Government Officials.

“If he has any doubt on such reports, are the Borno State Government Officials who did not write these official security reports going to be held responsible and asked to clarify what they have not written
and reported? To us, the sum total action of the presidency is tantamount to blaming the victim, hence the purpose of our protest,” the letter said.

 

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