100 Days After: Activists Hold Rallies For Chibok Girls
One hundred days after over 200 secondary school girls were abducted by Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram, hundreds of activists, religious leaders held a rally in Lagos today to demand for their release. The girls were abducted on 14 April in Chibok, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria.
The rally, organised by Women Arise Initiative and other activist groups, was held at the Event Garden, opposite Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, with everyone unanimously agreeing that 100 days in captivity by the young girls was a bad omen for the nation, especially the Federal Government’s failure to rescue the girls.
At the rally, Christian and Muslim clerics offered prayers for the safe return of the girls from Boko Haram’s den.
On 14 April, 2014, Boko Haram terrorists stormed Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State and kidnapped at least 275 girls preparing to write their West African School Certificate Examinations.
At the rally, activists and children carried placards, some of which read: “Punish the criminals,” “Fish out the beast,” “Stone age gone,” “Stop the killing,” “Chibok girls are human beings not numbers,” among others.
Speaking at the rally, President, Women Arise Initiative and Campaign for Democracy, CD, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin said: “we wish to register our keenness and undying desire to have the girls back. We have not lost steam in this regard, and we shall not until the innocent girls are brought home.
“We want to impress it on all Nigerians, across partisan divides, that this responsibility is a collective one. We should not even think of dumping this at the doorstep of security alone. We should be careful of tapping political mileage out of this crucial quest. Or, at least, the politicians could be left to play their game while the rest of us bond to work from the points of reasonable pressure on government, the point of prayer, information, and any other positive force we could bring to bear on this unfortunate situation.”
•Women activists led by Joe Okei-Odumakin during a rally to mark the 100 days that Chibok girls have been in Boko Haram captivity
Okei-Odumakin said that in truth, “all of us alive today, and free, are responsible for those hapless girls in captivity. There would be no partisan labels on the lashes of history. The eye of time would judge this generation, not this government alone. We were the ones who filed those girls on the school route. We, the parents, were the ones who told them it was the thing to do. If a culture which we approved for them, and even used the cane to entrench in them would be uprooted by savages, we, as parents must essentially see our roles in this, as cut-out for us as possible.”
According to her, pressure should be mounted on government to get the girls released, while also acknowledging the efforts of the troops so far to get the girls released, adding that “if we know nothing else, we are aware that some young soldiers we put in harm’s way in the North-East did not return alive. It would be most inhuman to keep the song of derision against this fighting force.
“The idea is not to lose more lives before we secure the release of these girls, yet, a soldier must do what he has to do. The least we could do is show compassion and appreciation for those who lay their lives on the line in the cause of freeing these girls.”
Okei-Odumakin stated that the government had a duty to inform the generality of Nigerians what was going on about the girls, saying that in as much as Nigerians understood that some of the information sought could be classified, but that there must be a way to update the people in a way that they could be convinced that the work of securing their freedom was a priority.
She opined that it only served government to do its utmost best, because, apart from the girls themselves and their parents, it would appear that government stood to benefit most from their release.
“We, of this generation, could also breathe easier, and begin to face other tasks of nation-building from our little ends. But everything must stop for this. We cannot move on without the girls. This nation is stuck without those girls. This is how the government, too must see the situation.
“No election is complete without them. Nothing really happens until they return. We do not make these statements as ones who seek appointments or political leverage. We say these as women, mothers, Nigerians who would do whatever is required of us to have the girls back. We wish to know that which could be safely told us. We want to know the guiding policy towards their release operations. We have heard that they would be home soon. We want to hope strongly that it was not just a political statement,” she stated.
Thanking the international community so far for their support, Okei-Odumakin stressed that those girls were not alone in captivity and that it would not be very smart to consider it so, saying that “we are all captives in the long stretch. Whatever targets young girls essentially targets the future of the land. Anything which disturbs or truncates the education of the young, already has a knife to the throat of that land.
“Every time we say bring back our girls, we are saying it to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because of the enormous powers reposed in his office. We say it to the security because of the trust and ability we invest in them. Most importantly, we say it to ourselves, because we are responsible for our generation and what happens in our time, under our watch. We are neither irresponsible in this nor helpless.
“It is a hundred days today, and we are counting, but we do not want to count indefinitely. The Ramadan fast is almost over, and it would be a great gift indeed, if the girls could be home in time for the sallah, in the warm embrace of all of us who yearn for their return. We shed our optimism abroad, and we hope it submerges the pessimism which is beginning to sprout. We refuse totally to entertain any thought which negates this professed position and stance,” she said.
Activist, Ayo Obe lamented that 100 days after, the girls were still being held in captivity, calling on the Federal Government to do everything possible to secure their release so that the trauma their parents and siblings were going through right now could abate.
Also, activist, Comrade Femi Aborishade said for the girls to still be in captivity 100 days after showed that the government had failed woefully and should resign if it could not fulfil its responsibility to protect the people.
“It shows that there is governmental failure for the girls to still be held captive 100 days after. This is because under the United Nations Convention of Rights of the Child, it is the duty of the government to protect the child against abduction.
“Under the Nigerian Rights Act, there is a similar provision made. Under section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution, the welfare of the people shall be the responsibility of the government. This shows that the government has failed. If you fail to provide such rights to the people, you have lost the right to be in power, we call on Nigerians to demand performance from the government or the government should resign,” he stated.
Popular Yoruba actor, Saheed Balogun said he was optimistic that the girls would be rescued, saying that people should stop heaping the blame on the government because
“we all constitute the government. God shall rescue these children. Government is doing its best to rescue the children, we should leave the military to do their job.”