By Tony Edike, Ben Agande CALEB AYANSINA, LAIDE AKINBOADE & MONSURU OLOWOOPEJO
Nigerian children, yesterday, celebrated this year’s Children’s Day in grief and tears as they embarked on prayers for divine intervention to bring back the over 200 schoolgirls of Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted 44 days ago by Boko Haram terrorists.
The children, who held prayer sessions across the states in the country, also wrote two letters: one for Boko Haram and another for President Goodluck Jonathan on the abduction of the girls.
Enugu school children weep
In Enugu, thousands of primary and secondary school children wept openly, while praying for the safety and speedy release of the abducted female students.
The children roused the audience at the Michael Okpara Square venue of the event with the passionate words of prayer they voiced while raising their hands towards an imagined direction of Sambisa forest (where the Chibok girls are believed to be held) beseeching God to send His angels there to rescue the schoolgirls.
They also carried placards denouncing the abduction of the school girls and called for their immediate release, demanding an end to the harassment of school children and their teachers in the northern part of the country.
Led in the prayers by the state Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Rev. Godwin Madu, and the state Secretary of Christian Association Nigeria, Rev. Emeka Ejim, the children emphasised that there was no need for celebrations of this year’s event since their abducted colleagues were still going through the horror of captivity in the custody of the terrorists.
‘God’s angels watch over them’
Amidst tears, Miss Precious Ede, who prayed on behalf of the children said: “We did not come here to celebrate. Rather we came to express our anguish at the continued plight of our mates in the hands of the Boko Haram people.
“We came to seek God’s intervention so that they can be freed because just like us, they committed no crime by going to school.
“We are confident that God will answer us because even as we are praying, we know that His angels are already at work in Sambisa Forest or wherever our mates are being held.”
The traditional march past by schools in the state, however, took place after the prayers.
Presenting the address of President Jonathan on the occasion, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State denounced the abduction of school children and the rampant bombing and burning of schools leading to the closure of some schools and colleges in the North-Eastern part of the country.
Children pray in Abuja
Children from different schools in the nation’s capital, Abuja, embarked on prayers for divine intervention to bring back the abducted girls.
In an interview with some of the students at the unity fountain in Abuja, they told Vanguard that it was only God that could fight for the country.
Gloria Timothy, from Junior Secondary School Galadimawa, Abuja, said that they gathered to say no to Boko Haram and fight against terror through prayers.
She said: “We are praying to God to bring back our girls and let the Boko Baram change and live a good life so that Nigeria will live in unity.”
Also speaking at the prayer session, the Convener and the Secretary General of Grand Alliance Against Terrorism, GAAT, Ariyo Atoye, urged Nigerians to unite against terrorism.
Letters to Boko Haram, Jonathan
The children also submitted two letters: one for the Boko Haram sect and another for President Goodluck Jonathan.
The contents of the two letters, which were presented to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan were not made public though she promised to deliver the President’s letter to him.
The First Lady, who hosted children at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, enjoined Nigerians to stop abusing President Jonathan but to join him in the fight against the Boko Haram sect.
She said: “Let me thank the children that gave me letter to give to Boko Haram. I have received your letter, but I am not the one to give it to Boko Haram because I do not know Boko Haram and I have never seen Boko Haram.
“But I will give it to the National Security Adviser or Chief of Defence Staff who will submit your letter accordingly.
“To my children parliament, thank you for your letter. Thank you for your deliberation. I have received what you gave to me. I will make sure I pass it to the President because it is addressed to him.”
In Lagos, Governor Babatunde Fashola appealed to the sect to safely release the schoolgirls, saying it was unfair for the group to continue to hold the girls captive for agitations they knew nothing about and for demands they could not meet.
This year’s Children‘s Day celebration was held at the Police College Ground, Ikeja, which was devoid of its usual fanfare.
The pupils, rather than wear their uniforms, were dressed in red T shirts with the inscription ‘Bring Back Our Friends Alive’.