Special Report

September 7, 2016

No Retreat, No Surrender — Ezekwesili

No Retreat, No Surrender — Ezekwesili

‎Oby Ezekwesili with parents of Dorcas Yakubu (mother in green), the girl who addressed concerned parents in the video released by Boko Haram

Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili, Co-convener of the BBOG spoke to Vanguard yesterday evening on the sidelines of the sit-in of the group at the Unity Fountain.

On the warning by the IG.

He should ask for the files that recorded our advocacy between 2015 and 2015 May when the previous administration used all kinds of tactics similar to this one to try to violate our constitutional liberty.

Not only did the constitution uphold our rights, the courts also upheld our rights and so, he should just read these files and he would be able to find what he needs in order to educate himself properly about democracy and citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly. As you know, this movement has been a very peaceful movement.

As you know, we operate on core values that nobody violates. We have never been associated with unruly behaviour. This is two years, four months of our advocacy and so we are not going to be changing anything. There is no retreat, no surrender. #AreOurGirlsBack? That is our hashtag now, in addition to #BringBackOurGirls. If the government says that we are unreasonable in demanding for our Chibok girls in the way that we have been demanding from them since 2014, they need to show the evidence that counters our stand.

On the counter protest by the pro-Buhari group,

PROTEST: From left, Dr Oby Ezekwesili; British High Commissioner, Amb. Paul Arkwright, and Hajia Fatima Abba Kaka during their protest at the British High Commission in Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

PROTEST: From left, Dr Oby Ezekwesili; British High Commissioner, Amb. Paul Arkwright, and Hajia Fatima Abba Kaka during their protest at the British High Commission in Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

As far as we are concerned, we are advocating for our Chibok Girls and we do not know what any other group is agitating for. I mean, it is legitimate for anybody to have any advocacy they choose to and we must uphold everybody’s liberty at all times. We do not know what they are advocating, but we are advocating for the rescue of our girls.

For us as a movement, the release of the plea-for-rescue video of August 14 was an incredible opening and opportunity for our government to really convey a message to the world. You as journalists can determine whether what came out from our government…the incoherent statements and attitude towards the matter that is still very important for an entire nation that the entire world has followed. You have to then surmise yourselves, whether that was what we expected.

On the ban on protests

The Federal Government, whether the police, military or DSS have absolutely zero right to determine what we do or not do as citizens. It would be in absolute violation of constitutional liberty if they tried it and they cannot do that. Our marches in the last few weeks were driven by the fact that there was something very material; a material development in the release of the video where a young woman was saying that she has been suffering with her colleagues for two years, which means it was a tape not in the distant past. And the young woman was identified by the mother that gave birth to her. What did you expect your government to do when it watches such a thing? Have you seen it? That was what drove us to this rachetting up of our marches every 72 hours. It’s our programme and we determine how long it will last, not because anybody is threatening us.

Nobody can threaten us. We are bona fide citizens of this country and the constitution guarantees us our rights. The government should deploy all its efforts to finding our Chibok girls and bringing them back to their parents. We came out on the basis of shared humanity and the understanding of our social contract with our nation-state.

“Let no one pretend as if this issue is going to go away because it is an issue that we have placed our absolute dedication because we believe that no longer should we as a people just move on. 219 girls taken from their school and then the country thinks it is okay to just move on? No, we