BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI, HENRY UMORU, IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—National protests which started in Lagos last week over inability of security agents to secure release of 234 female students abducted in Borno by Boko Haram terrorists two weeks ago, spread to Kano and Abuja, yesterday, just as Senate President, David Mark will lead 21 other senators to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan this evening to push for full scale military action to rescue the girls.
In Kano, various women and civil society groups staged a protest to Government House in Kano, demanding the immediate release of the girls.
In Abuja, women from various civil society organisations (CSOs) defied a downpour to protest the delay in securing the release of the 234 abducted schoolgirls by insurgents.
The women were also at the National Assembly to seek intervention from the lawmakers in the efforts to rescue the girls.
The women, who wept inconsolably, before the Senate President, David Mark, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioha, appealed to the Federal Government to deploy everything necessary in its military arsenal to rescue the innocent girls.
Former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesilli, one of the protest leaders and a former World Bank Vice-President, urged the government to respond pro-actively by making sure the girls were released from their captors safe in no time.
Ezekwesili, who regretted government’s inability to secure the release of the girls two weeks after their abduction, said Nigerian women have been sleepless since the abduction, insisting that government must not fail the citizens in releasing all the girls immediately.
She described the continued delay in securing their release as unbearable, saying they would not continue to tolerate further delay just as she reminded government at all levels of their primary responsibility to citizens, which she noted included welfare and security.
Ezekwesili appealed to the Federal Government to intensify efforts to immediately rescue the girls.
“There must be concerted efforts to bring back our girls. We are frustrated that 234 girls are lost and there are no adequate information about their whereabouts.
“Our leaders must show concern over the situation. We want to compel the right momentum for the search, and our activities are basically about bringing back our girls.
“These young girls are our daughters, sisters, tomorrow’s women and mothers. Those directly affected grieve, and we as Nigerians and human beings join them in their anguish and distress,” Ezekwesili said.
Also speaking, Hajia Hadiza Usman, the Co-ordinator, Women for Justice and Peace, urged all concerned citizens, irrespective of religion and ethnic background to rise up against insurgency in the country.
Usman said the abduction incident would discourage many mothers from sending their girl-children to school.
“No country will accept the missing of 234 girls, especially as government has not given enough information about the search for them,” she said.
Senate President David Mark, while receiving the protesters, said the lawmakers shared in their pain and would work with them for the rescue of the girls.
“Government is doing its best to address the situation. I therefore urge you all to collaborate with government to ensure we rescue the girls as soon as possible,” he said.
He added: “Our hearts are with you at this critical moment. The Senators and members of the House of Representatives wept over this abduction. We have reached an unbearable stage. We can no longer tolerate this.
“We are drenched, totally soaked in the rain. It is better to be beaten by the rain and get our children freed from their captors. If it means standing in the rain until the girls are freed we are prepared to do so.
“We have lost words. We can only apologize that it is taking this long to get these girls released. We are not going to rest until the last of the girls is freed. All the security formations, all of us must get involved in this battle. There is no mistaking the fact that we are in a state of war. With God on our side, we shall triumph over evil”.
Release names, pictures of abducted girls
Meanwhile, Christian and Muslim women of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, urged the Principal and management of Government Girls’ Secondary School, GGSS, Chibok, Borno State to release the names and pictures of the girls kidnapped by members of the Boko Haram 17 days ago.
The women who held a prayer session in view of the current security challenges facing the nation, focusing on the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, described the moment as very solemn. They stressed that their hearts bled and were broken as mothers.
Speaking, yesterday, the Convener of the prayer session and PDP National Woman Leader, Chief Kema Chikwe who decried the rate of kidnapping, terrorism, armed robbery and rape, however, appealed to God to expose those behind the heinous trend, just as they also prayed for victims of the Nyanya bomb blast.
Chikwe who explained that the programme was designed for PDP women to pray for a peaceful and a united Nigeria said, “Please God, send the Chibok schoolgirls to their parents for the sake of mothers, set the abducted Chibok schoolgirls free. We plead with the school authorities to release their names and their pictures. Let God touch the hearts of those who know and have perpetrated this heinous act.“
FG appears helpless, says NBA
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, expressed doubt at the Federal Government’s capacity to effectively halt the over four year insurgency waged against the nation by the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram.
Speaking at a valedictory court session in honour of a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Christopher Mitchell Chukwuma-Eneh in Abuja, the National President of the body, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, observed that the Federal Government has only been reacting to attacks by the violent group, rather than being proactive.
The allegation was made both before the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN.
“The pity of it all is that government appears helpless on how to stop these attacks, being reactionary all the time and not proactive”, the National President of the body, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, who read the speech, added.
Mark leads 21 senators to Jonathan
•Helicopters dropping personnel, weapons to insurgents in Taraba
Senate President, David Mark and 21 other senators are to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan this evening to push for full scale military action in the troubled North East, with a view to releasing the abducted girls.
The delegation, according to Senator Mark, who announced this during yesterday’s plenary, included all senators from the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The senators are expected to convey Tuesday’s resolution of the Senate calling for declaration of full scale war against insurgents in the North East to the president.
Mark confirmed this in his announcement as he said the meeting is solely aimed at finding means of rescuing the abducted girls and end insurgency as a whole in the country.
He called on all invited senators to meet in his residence in the evening for onward movement to Aso Rock Villa for the meeting which he said, would hold at 10 p.m.
Recall that the Senate had, during its Tuesday’s plenary, passed a resolution calling on the president to move all military might and strength to the troubled states, given the dimension at which insurgency in the areas has gone.
The Red Chamber equally asked the president to seek the assistance of ECOWAS and the United Nations to provide technological measure towards rescuing the abducted girls safely.