By LAIDE AKINBOADE
ABUJA— The #Bring Back Our Girls campaign group that has been leading protest for the release of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State, yesterday, denied an allegation by the Department of State Services, DSS, that the group had turned into a franchise.
In a statement by the Coordinators, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman, in Abuja yesterday, the group said it was just a protest group and accused security agencies of harassment, vilification, innuendoes and threats.
It will be recalled that, Tuesday, the spokesperson for DSS, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, accused the BringBackOurGirls campaigners of turning the protest into a franchise.
However, the statement of the group read in part: “For over two months, security agencies have harassed and sought to intimidate our movement incessantly. The latest was the statement on Tuesday credited to the Deputy Director of Department of State Services, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar who described the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as a franchise.
“This is a dangerous and unprecedented attack because as is well known in security circles, the term ‘franchise’ is used to refer to inter related terrorist cells.
“She is reported to have said that if indeed our movement ‘was a protest group it would not need to force members to register and wear tags’.
“There is a clear attempt to smear our work with a link to Chibok and Sambisa forest. It is clear from these comments that the security agencies are setting up the movement for a crackdown based on trumped up accusations.
“Our activities are open and our meetings are in a public space, the Unity Fountain. There is no compulsion to membership and our symbols such as the red T shirts, face caps and pins are donated voluntarily be members. We are motivated by empathy and the need to search and rescue these girls.”