A large number of women and men under the auspices of Women Arise and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Monday protested in Lagos, calling for action on the part of the Federal Government to free the over 200 girls abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
Led by President Women Arise, Dr. Joe Oke-Odumakin, the group marched from the Lagos State Television premises through Awolowo Way, Ikeja to the State House, where they delivered a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, through the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
Armed with placards such as “Bring back our girls, “NLC Women Committee says bring back our girls,” “NLC Women Committee says Enough of Boko Haram; Federal Government must act now on Boko Haram and Our girls must return back to us safe and alive,” the protesters were not happy that the girls are still detained by the sect.
Afrobeat singer, Femi Kuti, who is one of the protesters said there was the need to put pressure on the federal government to get the girls released, saying it was sad that it took government about three weeks to come to term that 234 girls had been kidnapped.
“It is sad that our government took three weeks to act. The government failed. This is why we have government to deal with this kind of issue. I am here to support Women Arise in this protest. “The president should stop corruption and act fast to bring back these girls and if he cannot do it, he should step down. Boko Haram is a monster that is becoming uncontrollable. Jonathan has to let the nation know what is happening in Borno State,” he said.
Yoruba actor, Jide Kosoko said it is sad that 234 girls had been kidnapped in the country and appealed to the sect to release the children. “They should release the children now if actually they believe in God. If government is serious about this, they should have devised ways to stop this act. We need to pray for the release of the girls,” he stated.
Spokesperson of the protesters and President, Women Arise Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin said it was alarming, stressing that the wicked act took place despite the state of emergency in Borno State.
“It is equally horrifying that this wickedness was carried out for hour without interruption by security forces. And it is appalling to read the alleged statement credited to Amnesty International that intelligence reports were given to the security forces four hours before the incident,’ she said in the letter to the president.
“Mr. President, as mothers, sisters, fathers and brothers, we are pained that these children have remained at the mercy of terrorists with our security forces appearing hapless in the face of this grievous harm being done to our polity. We believe this is a moment for decisive leadership.
“In your last media chat, you made reference to the fact that these are trying times, not just for Nigeria, also for the world. However, we need to see you in action and not just talk the talk as demonstrated by strong and compassionate leadership in other climes,” Okei-Odumakin said.
Okei-Odumakin demnded that the government must ensure that every one of the kidnapped girls is rescued and make adequate efforts to compensate them and their families for the emotional and physical trauma this incident had caused them and the nation.
“The Government of Nigeria must facilitate the completion of their West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) which they were writing at the time of their capture and government must recognize them as heroines of the struggle against global terrorism and award them full scholarship to complete their education to serve as inspiration and encouragement to millions of young girls in the northern part and elsewhere in the country who are not enrolled in school or are contemplating ending their education having been terrified by this dastardly act, when they are released.
“The Government of Nigeria must bring to book the masterminds of this and every other act of terrorism in the nation. We refuse to accept that there are no security reports on the sponsors of terror in the land,” she said. The protesters also demanded that Jonathan must demonstrate a strong sense of leadership and wield out the bad eggs in the nation’s security echelon who were not on top of their game probably because they have sympathy for or have totally imbibed the ideology of the terrorists, adding that government must work assiduously to secure the nation’s borders and collaborate with the Presidents of Chad, Niger and Cameroon to arrest the influx of terrorists into Nigeria.