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Speed up release of Chibok girls, BBOG tells Jonathan, Buhari

By The Citizen
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As part of events marking the one year of the abduction of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls, hundreds of protesters yesterday took to Abuja streets, calling on the government to expedite action on their release. A year ago, Boko Haram stormed Government Girls' Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State and abducted about 290 students who were writing their West African Examination Council (WAEC) tests.

Similarly, Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) has called on the Federal Government to make the safe return of the abducted girls the top agenda of the transition between the present and the incoming governments.

Briefing journalists in Abuja yesterday, one of the leaders of BBOG, Maureen Kabrik, who read out a statement which was signed by the leader of the group, former Education Minister, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, however, urged the President-elect, General Mohammed Buhari, to do everything within his power to bring back the girls if they did not come back before May 29.

'We thank Nigeria's President-elect for his kind and soothing words on the occasion of this one-year commemoration; wherein he promised to do everything he could to Bring Back Our Girls when he becomes the president, if they are still alive,' she stated.

Expressing sadness that one year after the girls' abduction, they were still in the hands of their captors, she thanked everyone who had been identified with the group in its effort to make the voice of the missing girls not to be forgotten. 'The citizens across Nigeria and around the world have participated in several solidarity activities for our Chibok girls in the last one year.

We must acknowledge empathetic people all over the world, who have raised their voices for our girls; from the one million women in Mexico, who marched for their cause, to the hundreds of thousands, who have stood for this cause from Mexico, to South Africa, to the UK, to Afghanistan; New Zealand to Syria, to Japan, the US and so on. Rich, poor; male, female; the young and the older; across all walks and perceived divides; all bound in a shared humanity demanding Bring Back Our Girls Now and alive! We stand in solidarity with you today as you mark this day.

'Among the special commemoration activities today will be the lighting of the Empire State building in New York City with the colours, red and purple. Red being specifically for our Chibok girls, purple for violence against women generally. 'Likewise, we express profound gratitude for the continued efforts of some friends of our girls, who have stayed committed to their cause all through the past year.

Friends of our Chibok girls like the First Lady of the United States- Michelle Obama, youngest Noble Peace Prize winner- Malala Yousafzai and global music icon— Alicia Keys, as well as the media are notable in their efforts. 'Our Chibok girls are the global symbol for the defence of the dignity and sanctity of human life; of the girl child, women, for all those oppressed, repressed, disadvantaged, hurting, unsafe persons everywhere. As long as they stay missing, it means nothing is as yet working.

We must all prioritise their safe return,' she noted The group urged the United Nations (UN) to deploy instruments in ensuring the prompt rescue of the girls and other abductees, as well as improve the security situation in the country.

The group also held a candlelight procession in commemoration of the one year abduction of the girls. Meanwhile, young girls, aged 10 to 18, who were picked as the Chibok Girls Ambassadors, stormed the Federal Ministry of Education yesterday to mark the one year abduction of the students.

The girls who spoke in tears, expressed outrage that for a year, the abducted girls have not been found, adding that they see themselves in the girls whose dreams were dashed overnight by the insurgents. Speaking on behalf of the ambassadors, Maryam Ahmed, expressed sadness that many students in northern parts of Nigeria are scared to go to school for fear of being abducted like the Chibok girls and demanded that government gives clear details of what is being done to bring the girls back.

While stating their disappointment of being locked out of the ministry when they arrived, the girls urged government to show strong commitment and concern about the abduction of the missing girls. Responding, Mohammed Bello Umar, Director of Human Resources Management in the ministry, who represented the Minister, Ibrahim Shekarau, stated that he will send the girls' presentation to him (minister), while stating that government was doing everything for their safe return.