Women to join search for abducted girls
Soldiers on the heel of kidnappers, says FG
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.
Borno women appealing for the release of over 200 school girls abducted by suspected insurgents, in Maiduguri yesterday.