By OUR REPORTERS
Protests swept through most state capitals in the country including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, as teachers, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, protested the death of 173 colleagues killed during the Boko Haram attacks in Borno and Yobe states.
The protest was also part of global Bring Back Our Girls campaign, demanding immediate release of the more than 200 abducted girls of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, over a month ago.
National Leadership of NUT had declared yesterday a day of national protest to mourn the dead colleagues killed by insurgents and the continued abduction of Chibok schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorists.
The protesting teachers called on government and security agencies to ensure the abducted girls were brought back ‘safe and alive’.
In Lagos, most public primary and secondary schools were shut because of the protest. When Vanguard visited some primary and secondary schools, they were under lock and key, which signifies a massive compliance with the directive.
Secondary schools at the Tolu Complex, Ajegunle, with over 15 schools, also complied with the directive.
When Vanguard visited Awodi-Ora Secondary School, the students and their teachers were in school. However, at 11 a.m. the school authorities directed the students to go home.
In a letter addressed to Governor Babatunde Fashola, the teachers demanded for the release of the girls, pointing out that they had been thrown into sorrow since the abduction on April 14.
The Chairman, Lagos NUT, Mr. Adesegun Raheem in the letter said: “It is pertinent at this time to call on Nigerian government to bring back our girls safe and alive by demonstrating enough social responsibility and concern to guarantee security of lives and property in the land, which is the primary responsibility of any government.
In Ogun, leading the protesters to the governor’s office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the state Chairman of NUT, Dare Ilekoya, described the abduction of the girls as a stumbling block to the realisation of making education available to all by the year 2015.
The NUT, which had shut down all the schools in the state, marched to the governor’s office where they presented a speech delivered by Ilekoya.
Ilekoya said the union felt burdened and depressed just like the parents of the Chibok schoolgirls.
He said teachers in the troubled areas were living under constant fears of attack with their social condition further plummeting. He urged the government to give their plight immediate national priority.
Similarly, in Ondo State, the protesting teachers led by their Chairman, Ojo Fanimokun, displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Boko Haram is evil,” “Bring an end to Boko Haram insurgence,” “Western education is a means to civilization.”
Fanimokun urged the Federal Government to demonstrate enough social responsibility and concern to guarantee security of lives and property in the country, saying “as teachers, now living under constant fears of attack with their social condition further plummeting, a national concern for our plight must take immediate national importance.”
In Ibadan, scores of women and secondary school girls trooped to major streets calling for more proactive steps that would lead to the release of the abducted Chibok girls.
This came as National Association of Women Academics, NAWACS; Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso branch, described the continued incarceration of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls as ungodly.
Speaking during a rally to protest the incident in Ogbomoso, yesterday, the President of the group, Professor Akin Akintunde, said the continued incarceration was “a blow” to the promotion of girl-child education in the country.
Akintunde said that the abduction was in conflict with the holy books which recommended the protection of women.
She also said that the action of the abductors negated the dictates of morality through perversion of values.
She said: “We in NAWACS feel so bad that our future mothers are being inhumanly treated and subjected to dehumanising conditions.”
Also in the FCT, the NUT Chairman, Hassan Jibril, said the rally was in solidarity with the families of the abducted girls in Chibok.
Jibril said: “All teachers in Nigeria today (yesterday) in solidarity to the families of the abducted Chibok girls are demonstrating and protesting their feelings through this rally to show our concern as people who are directly affected and who have been under direct attacks of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian teachers are demanding from the Federal Government that they should ensure safe release of the abducted girls. We do not want a situation whereby the rescue operations may be exchanging gunfire and probably get anyone killed.
“We say no to this. We want them back into the classroom safe and alive so that we can continue to teach them their curriculum and they perfectly seat for the conclusion of their examinations.”
In Port Harcourt, Rivers State branch of NUT, led by the state Chairman, Mr. Godfrey Nwogu, matched on a portion of Aba Road in Port Harcourt, calling for the unconditional release of the kidnapped Chibok girls.
He said: “We are praying God to touch the minds of the kidnappers to release the girls unconditionally. Government should also provide security around schools to protect everyone.”
The teachers, who described the kidnap of the female students as shameful and barbaric, also called for payment of compensation to families of teachers that have been killed by the dreaded Islamist sect, Boko Haram.
They further appealed to government to secure schools round the country.
Also in Asaba, Chairman of NUT, Delta State wing, Jonathan Jerieyigbe, in an address he presented to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, observed that education remained the bedrock of the society, stressing that the abduction of the Chibok girls and killing of teachers is a direct attack on the educational system.
He said: “In abducting the Chibok girls, Boko Haram is attempting at stopping our girls from what they are and inhibiting them from what they want to become through education and this is playing God. On this, we say bring back our girls safe and alive.”
In Bauchi, Chairman of NUT, Danjuma Sale, while leading the protesters who marched on Bauchi streets to the Government House, said: “We demand that the Federal and all the respective state governments in the country exhibit true concern for the affected families of the 173 teachers in Borno and Yobe states, who lost their lives to the barbaric, uncivilised and wicked act of terrorism by paying them adequate compensation to soothe their misery.
“We are pleading with the Federal Government to do all it can to bring back our abducted girls safe and alive.
The government should also demonstrate a sense of social responsibility and concern by guaranteeing the security of lives and property in the land which is the primary priority of any responsible government.”