In their large numbers, indigenes of Chibok local area council of Borno state living in Lagos, yesterday stormed the office of Governor, Babatunde Fashola , to protest the abduction of 234 female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in their community by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Dressed in black, the aggrieved protesters, mostly youths, expressed their concern over the abduction of the girls while calling on the Federal Government, state governors and the military agencies in the country to end the insurgency immediately.
The protesters, under the aegis of Kibaku Youth Association of Nigeria (KYAN) lamented over the attitude of the Federal Government and the security agencies to rescue abducted girls, saying “it is worrisome that the Federal Government and its agencies are not worried but relaxed in ensuring that these innocent girls are found, unharmed and freed quickly to reunite with their respective families”.
Armed with placards with inscriptions: “Education is not a crime, we want our girls back; Bring our sisters”; “Where are our sisters; Bring back our girls”; “Hear our cries; we love our siblings”; “234 innocent lives is too much to ignore”; “Rescue the 234 Chibok girls now” and others.
The leader of the youths, Mr. Moses Zakwa, said “though we are in Lagos enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of the state, however, our hearts bleeds over this tragedy that has befallen these innocent young girls, whom are our sisters, cousins, mothers of the un-born generations and future leaders of the country”.
Zakwa added that they came to the seat of power in the state to seek the state governor’s intervention to ensure that the central government and its security agencies expedite action on the release of the girls.
Also speaking, Mr. Mindia Chiwar lamented that 14 days after the abduction of the girls, the security agencies were yet to ascertain the state of the girls or to ensure that these innocent secondary school girls are released.
Responding to the protesters, Fashola said, “Your coming here today showed a sense of brotherhood and passion for your fellow human being, especially children; and the Lagos state government is also concerned about the abduction of these girls.
“We are really shocked as to the resort to the abduction of innocent young children in our country. Whatever grievances the abductors have, hostage taking is de-humanizing.
“One can imagine the kind of horror and grief that the parent of the girls must be feeling. I am a parent myself and I understand it. For instance, when my children are ill, I know the kind of fear that I go through; and so, the kind indescribable emotion that the parent of these children are going through at the moment.
“Even the girls themselves, it must be a very traumatic experience for the girls that were directly involved. For those that weren’t directly involved one can see their sense of empathy.
“We have to reach out to the victims of this circumstance. We can only continue encourage the parents not to give up and to salute those of you who have stood up to complain over the continuous abduction of the girls.
The governor assured the protesters of immediate handling over of the letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, saying “I will inform him of your concern over abduction of the girls.”
Explaining the effort of the Borno state government, Fashola said “I know that Governor Kashim Shettima has shown a lot of courage and commitment. And since these crisis escalated, he hasn’t been able to attend any of our meetings and he has decided to stay at home and address the issue. That is the kind of leadership courage that one need from a leader at the time of crisis.”
While appealing to the protesters, the governor said “At the moment, we must continue to be hopeful and keep the issue alive to ensure that the children are freed.
He noted that no government in the country wishes to have cases of abduction at its disposal, saying “If this continues, it will have extreme consequences; it could result into violence and therefore, it suggests to me that there is no greater time to seek peace than now.”