Girls’ ab­duc­tion: BBOG threat­ens to sue FG, Reps be­gin probe

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - John Ameh and Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

AN ad hoc com­mit­tee of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives be­gan pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the ab­duc­tion of 110 girls from the Gov­ern­ment Girls Sci­ence and Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, Dapchi, by the Boko Haram in­sur­gents on Fe­bru­ary 19.

The com­mit­tee, which is chaired by Mr. Buba Yusuf-yakub, said the lat­est ab­duc­tion again raised the ques­tion on ris­ing se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the coun­try.

“It sug­gests that our se­cu­rity chal­lenges as a na­tion have be­come nas­tier and fright­en­ingly com­pre­hen­sive to such an ex­tent that life in Nige­ria has be­come short and brutish.”

Yusuf-yakub, who spoke with re­porters at the Na­tional Assem­bly, said the com­mit­tee’s modus operandi would in­clude meet­ing with mil­i­tary com­man­ders, the par­ents of the girls, the po­lice, the school au­thor­i­ties and the state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments’ of­fi­cials to get first-hand in­for­ma­tion.

He also said the com­mit­tee would find out whether se­cu­rity agen­cies were com­plicit and whether there was dere­lic­tion of duty.

The chair­man added, “The com­mit­tee will at the end of this im­por­tant na­tional as­sign­ment, ex­press its opin­ion, ap­por­tion blame where nec­es­sary and make rec­om­men­da­tions.”

Mean­while, the Bring back our girls group says it will sue the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment next week for the ab­duc­tion of school­girls in Chi­bok and Dapchi in the North-east if it fails to pro­vide an­swers to 14 ques­tions raised over the ab­duc­tion of the girls.

The Co-con­vener of the BBOG and a for­mer Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Oby Ezek­we­sili, said this dur­ing a ‘sit-out’ in Abuja on Tues­day.

Ezek­we­sili, who was flanked by other BBOG mem­bers and hu­man rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the gov­ern­ment would be sued for gross neg­li­gence.

While pos­ing 14 ques­tions to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, Ezek­we­sili said it was un­for­tu­nate that a gov­ern­ment that had been boast­ing of de­feat­ing Boko Haram still al­lowed in­no­cent school­girls to be ab­ducted.

She asked the gov­ern­ment to ex­plain the claims and counter-claims by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment that the girls had been res­cued thereby caus­ing con­fu­sion.

The ex-min­is­ter also asked the gov­ern­ment to ex­plain what hap­pened to the Safe School Ini­tia­tive that was signed by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in 2014 and to which it com­mit­ted $10m along­side other do­na­tions by the sev­eral donors, in­clud­ing the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

She won­dered why sol­diers were with­drawn from Dapchi shortly be­fore the at­tack thereby mak­ing it easy for the ter­ror­ists to at­tack the school and abduct the school­girls.

Ezek­we­sili added, “The key point is that within seven days of our de­mand­ing the re­sponse to our 14 ques­tions we shall be su­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of Nige­ria for gross neg­li­gence that led to the ab­duc­tion of the girls.

“Our lawyers, Femi Falana and Co, will be rep­re­sent­ing us in the suit against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of Nige­ria. We hereby serve the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment a no­tice that in the next seven days, we need all the an­swers to our ques­tions.”

Also speak­ing, Falana said the gov­ern­ment had failed to pro­tect lives and prop­erty which re­mains its pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Falana said it was based on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to ful­fil its pri­mary con­sti­tu­tional man­date that the BBOG would be go­ing to court.

The se­nior ad­vo­cate said, “Sec­tion 14 (2) of the con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides that the se­cu­rity and wel­fare of every cit­i­zen of Nige­ria shall be the pri­mary pur­pose of gov­ern­ment. Se­condly, Sec­tion 35 of the con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees the right to per­sonal lib­erty.

“In other words, no cit­i­zen of Nige­ria can be ab­ducted or de­tained il­le­gally with­out a re­ac­tion from the gov­ern­ment.

“So, that duty has been breached in the case of Chi­bok and Dapchi girls and why it is worse in this case is that hav­ing re­gard to the facts and cir­cum­stances of the de­vel­op­ments in that part of the coun­try, it is in­tol­er­a­ble and un­ac­cept­able that the same man­ner of ab­duc­tion took place. Are we be­ing told that there was no se­cu­rity for those schools in the North-east geopo­lit­i­cal zone?”

Photo: Se­gun Bakare

•L-R: Chair­man, Geum Macro­phyl­lum Project, Mr. Akeem Apatira; Di­rec­tor of Ac­counts, Of­fice of Es­tab­lish­ments & Train­ing, Mr. Deji Koko; La­gos State Com­mis­sioner for Es­tab­lish­ments, Train­ing and Pen­sions, Dr. Ak­in­tola Oke; and Chair­man, House Com­mit­tee on Es­tab­lish­ments, Train­ing, Pen­sion and Pub­lic Ser­vice, Ade­dayo Fa­mak­inwa, dur­ing a two-day train­ing on build­ing val­ues and sound hu­man re­la­tions skills for La­gos State work­ers in La­gos...on Tues­day.

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