Bbog Group Tasks Soldiers For Preventing Chibok Parents From Traveling To Abuja
SAN FRANCISCO, January 13, (THEWILL) – The advocacy group for the release of the abducted Chibok girls, Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, has accused Nigerian soldiers of preventing parents of the abducted schoolgirls from travelling to Abuja to join in their march to Aso Rock this Thursday to re-engage with President Muhammadu Buhari on efforts made to rescue the abductees.
Noting that the over 120 parents in their determination used their meagre income to pay the bus fare from Chibok, Borno State to Abuja, the group claimed that soldiers mounting checkpoints at Chibok held back two of the bus load of parents while another check point officers stopped three buses conveying the parents from embarking on the journey.
While acknowledging that the top hierarchy of the military has already apologized and has blamed the stoppage on the fragile security context which could have exposed such a large contingent of the parents to risks, BBOG demanded, “a public apology to parent for this avoidable and unfortunate episode, and a public commitment that the military will transport them out to Abuja tomorrow to enable them lead the march to meet with the president on Thursday.”
This was the crux of a statement forwarded to THEWILL by a Strategic Team Member of the group, Jeff Okoroafor. The statement reads in full:
Towards our earlier announced march together with the parents of our abducted Chibok girls and the Chibok community to re-engage with the president on the matter of their rescue this Thursday 14 January, a delegation of parents left Chibok this morning Tuesday 12 January for a 2-day journey to Abuja. Despite their meagre income, the over 120 parents were determined and paid the bus fare from Chibok to enable them to partake in the march to re-engage with the president after the first meeting of 8 July 2015.
At about 8 am, we received information that they had been barred from proceeding by soldiers. We wondered if this was perhaps a random solitary act of some overzealous checkpoint leader or an action directed from the military high-command. Not wanting to speculate and escalate without establishing the facts behind the episode, we reached out to the administration through Pastor Tunde Bakare — a well-respected citizen and co-advocate of the cause of our Chibok girls.
We were subsequently informed the buses carrying our Chibok girls’ parents had been allowed to proceed on the journey to Abuja. However, only this evening, we were again informed that the checkpoint officers in Askira had allowed only 4 of the bus load of parents and held back 3 but we can factually confirm that 5 buses in all were held back — 2 in Chibok and 3 in Askira.
Tonight, the top echelon of the military and security team reached out apologising for the uncalled for and regrettable incident. Reasons adduced were that the fragile security context could have exposed such a large contingent of the parents to risks. Whilst we appreciate the legitimate safety concerns, we are convinced however that it could have been better handled with dignified treatment of parents who have been heartbroken over the last 638 days of their daughters’ captivity.
We therefore demanded:
I. a public apology to parent for this avoidable and unfortunate episode, and
II. a public commitment that the military will transport them out to Abuja tomorrow to enable them lead the march to meet with the president on Thursday.
The military has accepted and confirmed to us that it will fully handle the movement of the remaining remaining parents to Abuja tomorrow Wednesday 13 January. The parents are all set to re-embark on their botched journey while we await the arrival of the set that successfully left Chibok earlier today for Abuja.
We now await the public apology to the parents and the Chibok community.