•CAN demands rescue of other Chibok girls
•Buhari insists on their safe return
From Molly Kilete, Juliana Taiwo-
Obalonye, Abuja and Gyang Bere, Jos
There was pandemonium yesterday at the Unity fountain, Abuja venue of the regular meeting point of the Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG), when policemen from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command tried to prevent the group from embarking on their protest march to mark the 1000th day of the kidnapped Chibok girls.
The girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, were abducted by Boko Haram from their hostel in April, 2014.
The BBOG, had on January 3, intimated the public of its intention to resume its peaceful protest yesterday and to mark the 1000th day of the girls in captivity and demand their speedy and unconditional release. It said the Buhari-led government was not doing enough to rescue the girls alive.
However, members of the group, who stormed the Unity Fountain as early as ahead of the 3pm scheduled time, were shocked to find that the whole place had been invaded by stern-looking mobile policemen and women.
As the group gathered to embark on the peaceful march, they met the resistance of the police, who formed a barricade to prevent them from leaving the area.
The group, however, rebuffed police intimidation as they charged through the human barricade and went ahead with their peaceful march.
Seeing that the group was adamant and had overpowered them, the police team rushed to the entrance of the Presidential Villa, ahead of the protesters and barricaded it with Amoured Personnel Carrier (APC), water tank, among other equipment to prevent the group from gaining access to the Villa, where they intended to present a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
To ensure that the group does not force its way into the Villa, the police also deployed their female mobile police personnel as shield in addition to the APC and other equipment used to barricade the entrance.
Briefing journalists, the group said: “We shall carry out a series of activities for a period of one week, using our 24-hourly marches to compel our Federal Government to accelerate the decision and actions necessary to bring back the rest of our Chibok girls to their grossly disappointed parents”.
It also called for a better and improved welfare for troops at the frontlines as well as state-of-the-art equipment for soldiers to effectively stop the terrorists.
The group frowned at the situation where some soldiers were unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment for mutiny/treason for declining to fight without arms.
When contacted on why the police prevented the group from embarking on their peaceful march, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in charge of the FCT Command, Anjuri Mamza, said, “the police did not prevent the group and that they were there on routine duty.
Anjuri, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, said, “we are just there for normal routine duty, there is no undertone attached to it. The police are not out for any group or persons, we are just there to perform our normal routine duty, that is the situation”, the PPRO said.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has restated his commitment to securing the release of the remaining Chibok girls.
He said as a parent,he identifies with the plight of the parents of the girls, watching and waiting as days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, months turned to years, and now, it is 1,000 days, adding that the tears never dry, but hope remains alive.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, quoted Buhari as saying, “we are grateful to God that on this landmark day, we are not completely in the depths of despair, but buoyed with hope that our daughters will yet rejoin their families and loved ones. Three of them have been recovered by our diligent military, while the freedom of 21 others was secured through engagement with their captors. We are hopeful that many more will still return as soon as practicable,” he said.
President Buhari reiterated his pledge that government would not spare any effort to reunite the girls with their families.
Buhari particularly commended all who have been in the vanguard for the recovery of the girls, both nationally and internationally this past 1,000 days, stressing:
“Someday soon, we will all rejoice together. Our intelligence and security forces are unrelenting, and whatever it takes, we remain resolute. Chibok community, Nigeria, and, indeed, the world, will yet rise in brotherhood, to welcome our remaining girls back home. We trust God for that eventuality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Northern Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Yakubu Pam, said their joy will never be complete until the Federal Government rescues all Chibok girls.
Rev. Pam stated this yesterday during an interview with journalists in Jos, Plateau State where he hailed the Army for rescuing another Chibok girl, Rakiya Abubakar, with her baby.
“We are happy that another Chibok girl who was abducted in April, 2014 has been found, but our joy cannot be complete if all the girls are not rescued as promise by the Federal Government. These girls live a horror and terrible life; they couldn’t say no to anything their abductors asked them to do, the recent girl was found with a baby after two years of anguish,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to engage the rescued Chibok girls into trauma healing and offer the girls and their children scholarship, asking the government to carry out a thorough medical examination of Rakiya and her baby to ascertain their HIV/AIDS status and other related diseases.