Women to join search for ab­ducted girls

Soldiers on the heel of kid­nap­pers, says FG

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From Ya­haya Ibrahim (Maiduguri), Isi­aka Wak­ili, Tu­raki A. Has­san & Ron­ald Mu­tum (Abuja)

Women in Borno State yes­ter­day stated their will­ing­ness to go into the Sam­bisa For­est in search of school­girls ab­ducted from the Govern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School Chi­bok two weeks ago.

The women, who ap­peared in black dresses and sobbed over the in­ci­dent, spoke to jour­nal­ists in Maiduguri, where they urged for the re­lease of the fe­male stu­dents.

Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve that at least 234 of the school­girls are still miss­ing, af­ter some of them es­caped from their Boko Haram kid­nap­pers.

Prof Hauwa Abdu Biu, who spoke on be­half of the con­cerned women yes­ter­day, called on

the sect to re­lease the girls, say­ing the ab­duc­tion was in­hu­man.

“We are ready to go into the bush to search for them if we could get some­body who will led us. These girls are in­no­cent and no harm should be­fall them,” she said, sob­bing.

“The ab­duc­tion of in­no­cents’ girls vi­o­lates their hu­man rights, is a crime against hu­man­ity and is pro­hib­ited un­der the in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.

“Women in Borno State con­demn in its to­tal­ity such acts of vi­o­lence as at­tacks on schools deny chil­dren their rights to learn in a safe en­vi­ron­ment, thereby jeop­ar­dis­ing their fu­ture.”

Prof Biu added: “We also con­demn all other at­tacks in the form of bomb blasts and se­rial killings all over the coun­try in its en­tirety and com­mis­er­ate with the fam­i­lies of all those that lost their lives dur­ing the un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dences.

“While call­ing on the sect mem­bers to please re­lease all those in their cus­tody with­out harm­ing them and as a mat­ter of ur­gency, lay down their arms and em­brace di­a­logue, we wish to as­sure them of our moth­erly sup­port to­wards re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing them when the need arises.”

She com­mended the ef­forts of au­thor­i­ties to­wards con­tain­ing the in­sur­gency but ap­pealed for ad­e­quate se­cu­rity to schools for a safe learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Our cor­re­spon­dent re­ports that the women were from dif­fer­ent non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, who came to­gether to call for the re­lease of the school­girls.

It was not clear how they in­tended to join the search in the for­est, as male par­ents of the ab­ducted school­girls had tried un­suc­cess­fully in the days af­ter the kid­nap­ping.

One of the par­ents told jour­nal­ists last week that they went deep into the for­est but had to give up be­cause they were warned of dan­gers of pro­ceed­ing fur­ther.

Re­ports had also quoted some of the par­ents as say­ing even troops had backed out of the search.

How­ever, spokesman for the De­fence Head­quar­ters in Abuja, Ma­jor-Gen­eral Chris Oluko­lade, said in a state­ment yes­ter­day “the search for the ab­ducted stu­dents of Govern­ment Girls’ Sec­ondary School, Chi­bok is also be­ing in­ten­si­fied.” He did not give fur­ther de­tails.

‘A na­tional tragedy’

The Federal Govern­ment also said ef­forts were still on to find the girls, and that soldiers were on the heels of the kid­nap­pers.

In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Labaran Maku, who fielded ques­tions from jour­nal­ists af­ter yes­ter­day’s Federal Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) meet­ing, said: “The se­cu­rity forces are still on the heels of these kid­nap­pers, and all ef­forts are be­ing de­ployed.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we are not fight­ing a stand­ing army. The work of de­feat­ing ter­ror is to be united. And for us, cit­i­zens, who have in­for­ma­tion that can lead to fish­ing out these girls and the crim­i­nals in the sys­tem, let us give that in­for­ma­tion. So, a lot of work is go­ing on, and no­body is rest­ing.”

He added: “The ab­duc­tion of the girls is a na­tional tragedy. That young girls of school age could be ab­ducted in our coun­try in 2014 is unimag­in­able.

“No­body, even in our wildest imag­i­na­tion, ex­pected that a group of people un­der what­ever guise would take hostage of young girls who were just in the school to write ex­ams.

“This is, in­deed, very painful. From the pres­i­dent to all of us, we have been go­ing through a lot of an­guish. It is al­most like a story out of this world. It goes to show the level of de­prav­ity and sheer cur­rent lack of hu­man feel­ing that is go­ing on in this crime of ter­ror in this coun­try.”

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Se­na­tor David Mark also yes­ter­day spoke on the ab­duc­tion, say­ing it was sac­ri­le­gious.

He pleaded with the ab­duc­tors to lis­ten to the voices of rea­son and free the teenagers, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by his spokesman Paul Mumeh.

Mark said no ra­tio­nal hu­man be­ing can jus­tify the ab­duc­tion of the girls, whose only of­fence is that they chose to go to school to con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try.

He urged for syn­ergy among se­cu­rity agencies to do all that is needed to res­cue the girls, say­ing the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion is mak­ing a mock­ery of the na­tion.

“This un­abat­ing show of ras­cal­ity and dis­re­gards for rule of law by the in­sur­gents is an af­front on the Nige­rian people,” he said.

PHOTO Ya­haya Ibrahim

Borno women ap­peal­ing for the re­lease of over 200 school girls ab­ducted by sus­pected in­sur­gents, in Maiduguri yes­ter­day.

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