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Published On: Fri, May 23rd, 2014

Jonathan evades #BringBackOurGirls protesters

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jonathan-sadBy Umar Muhammad Puma, Abuja & Ayodele Samuel Lagos

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday tactically avoided facing members of the #BringBackOurGirls group who had sought to meet him and inquire about his administration’s efforts to return the over 200 missing Chibok school girls to ther parents.

The group, which has been campaigning for the rescue of the abducted schoolgirls by Boko Haram, had declared its resolve to march on the Aso Rock Villa yesterday to take its message to President Jonathan, despite repeated warning by the police that it should shelve such plan.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, who had refused to receive previous notification letters for the group’s protests, had summoned some leaders to intimate them that the team will not be allowed to march to the Villa.

Mr. Mbu, according to one of the protesters, said the team will not be allowed to march beyond the Federal Secretariat, and suggested that the group meets with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, instead of the president.

But members of the protest group rebuffed the police chief’s proposition and insisted on marching into the Villa.

A statement issued earlier by Coordinator of the group, Hadiza Bala Usman, said the planned procession to Aso Rock was sequel to similar marches to the National Assembly, the Defence headquarters and the Borno state Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.

“Therefore, as the President and Chief Security Officer of the country, this movement deemed it necessary to take its cry and demand to His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan,” the statement said.

But the hundreds of protesters seeking to pressure the federal government to act and rescue the remaining 233 schoolgirls kidnapped, were yesterday denied entry into the Presidential Villa.

The #BringBackOurGirls protesters met stiff resistance from the heavily armed special security forces stationed at every strategic position leading to the Villa, as they were told that only workers or invited guests were allowed access into that area.

Unable to access Aso Rock, the protesters agreed to be received at the federal secretariat by a delegation led by Anyim, the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, Special Adviser to the President on Media, Reuben Abati and Senior Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, among others.

“We went out of our way that we must have this meeting with Mr. President. And the answers we have received is inadequate,” one of the leaders of the group, Oby Ezekwesili said.

“Please let Mr. President know that the answers we received is not enough. Tell him also that he also missed a colossal opportunity to address his citizens on a crucial issue.

“Our proposal is: that we will demand of Mr. President another opportunity of addressing the issues that the citizens have put before him as the commander-in -chief. We also want the delegates to tell the president that we hold the office of the president in very high esteem,” she said.

Meanwhile, protesting students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) yesterday detained the convoy of President Jonathan in Ile-Ife, Osun state.

The convoy, led by a Toyota bullet proof SUV with ‘Presidency’ inscription and registration number, FG902-B02, tried to drive through the students who were protesting an increase in fees by the university management.

The university management was sad to have increased the fees from about N17,000 to over N100,000.

Security details attached to the convoy allegedly shot to disperse the crowd and were said to have injured two of the protesting students in the process.

The students alleged that the convoy was escorting an ex- Niger Delta militant, High Chief Okubo Robert.

They said one of the soldiers identified as Idris Ajisesin with number 448318 shot four students.

The protesting students said that Robert, who was being driven in a jeep with registration number, PRESIDENCY FG902B02, angered the students when he ordered that the soldiers shoot tackle the students.

Our correspondent learnt that the students nearly lynched the soldier who fired the shots, but for the intervention of some residents.


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