Several organisations stormed the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, southwest Nigeria on Tuesday, 27th May, 2014, to register their dismay over the inability of the Federal Government to rescue the over 200 secondary school girls abducted in Chibok area of Bornu state in April.
The organizations came in with large number of people carrying placards with emotional messages, and others lamenting the attendant failure of government to arrest the situation.
They include Center for Global Peace Initiative (CGPI), The Young Muslims Association (TYMA), Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), Al-Mu’minaat Social Advocacy Project (SAP), Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, League of Muslim schools’ Proprietors (LEAMPS) and Pure Heart Foundation (PHF).
After hours of chanting various slogans and singing different songs to seek the unconditional release of the abducted girls, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Ibirogba, came over from another function to receive their protest letters on behalf of the state governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN.
CGPI Convener, Shakiru Yekinni lamented the attendant cluelessness and lackluster performance of the Nigerian government in bringing Boko Haram activities to an end.
He said: “We as a collective of Muslim organizations condemn in the strongest term this heinous crime, and also express our disappointment at the manner in which the issue was previously handled by the Federal Government until recent external intervention. We say with every emphasis that acts of abduction, killing, kidnapping, wanton destruction and terrorism are all alien to Islam both in letter and spirit. We affirm that these acts constitute not only crimes against humanity, but also crimes against Allah and His religion, for Allah Has ordained that to kill a soul is likeable to killing the entire humanity. We say likewise that Boko Haram and its ideology of forceful conversion of people away from their religion runs counter to the dictate of Islam which affirms that ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion, for truth is clear and distinct from error…’. We also reiterate that Islam forbids spreading evil and corruption in the land and recommends appropriate punishments for harbingers of evil and destruction like the Boko Haram sect.”
The group expressed sadness over the incessant loss of lives and the destruction of properties on a scale unprecedented in the country.
“This,” he said, “as you are aware is already portraying us as a nation where life has no value in the comity of nations. In other climes, governments would deploy all resources and attention to rescue one individual, but in our own case the loss of hundreds of lives in a single week and the abduction of over 200 school girls did not deter our leaders from dancing to ‘Azonto’ music at a political rally. We stand here today to query the allocations running into billions of naira as security votes and the corresponding increase in the spate of loss of lives and heightened insecurity in the nation. Our leaders claimed to be committed to education as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), yet they are unperturbed at the kidnap of over 200 secondary school girls in a region where education is the least of considerations until international outcry forced the hands of our government to necessary action. The invitation of multi- national force to help handle the insurgency despite the global acclaim of our military in similar operations in other countries- shows how rudderless we have become as a nation.”
TYMA National Coordinator, AbdulAzeez Ajala, said the abduction explained the long time neglect and hyper-insensitiveness of successive governments to the plight of the child.
According to him, “It is the child of neglect and destitution, completely bereft of morals that can be easily bought, as an adult, to wage war against the society he belongs. It is shameful that this kind of crime occurs in a country endowed with abundant human and material resources. If the government of Nigeria values the lives and wellbeing of her citizens, it would have put security apparatus in place to nib insurgency at the bud ab initio. Why would it require, the intervention of any foreign country to search for the girls? Where are the forces and the Police? Should government blame an individual or group for its ineffectiveness? The leader of South Korea who resigned because of the lives lost in a shipwreck is a shining example of a sincere leader. The love of power and affluence by our leaders has helped in hardening their conscience while hiding under sectionalism such as religion and ethnicity.”
Ajala said Boko Haram neither represent Islam nor the Muslims in Nigeria.
“We believe that the aggravation of its devilish activities in the recent time is the handiwork of some elements who have selfish agenda to gain in a war torn Nigeri. If not, when has Nigerians fed so fat (out of poverty) that they could afford to buy hi-tech weapons such as bombs. We fervently pray Allah to expose and shame all the perpetrators of the devilish act.
“We implore politicians and those who are aspiring for public offices to redirect their attention to the purpose of governance – providing basic welfare and security for its citizenry. As elections are drawing nearer, we advise politicians to be sincere with Nigerians and shun all forms of violence and destructive tendencies. If seeking election is to serve the people, then it should not and it must not be a do-or-die affair,” he said.
AFED President, Mrs Esther Dada urged government to stop playing politics with the lives of the abducted children.
Mrs Dada said it is high time government account for trillions on naira budgeted for security over the years with nothing to show for it.
The girls, she said, must be unconditionally release without payment of any ransom.
Mrs Dada appealed to Nigerians to keep praying fir the return of the girls alive and safe.
SAP Coordinator, Mrs Sherifah Yusuf-Ajibade, said the abduction of girls seeking education and the inability of government to secure their release send shivering fear down the spine of both mothers and girl-children.
She said the act can negatively impact on the girl-child education which is a prerequisite for attainment of a number of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“This goal will be attained once we are able to ‘Eliminate Gender disparity in Primary and Secondary education, and in all levels of education no later than 2015’. Particularly, in Northern Nigeria where education has not been given the necessary attention. Thus, the sustenance of whatever success in girl-child education we may have been building over the years is hinged on the rescue of the Chibok girls,” she said.
Mrs Yusuf-Ajibade urged President Goodluck Jonathan and his team to act urgently.
“The position of Islam is not obscure on education for both males and females. Islam is pro-education and not anti-education. We emphatically say that ‘Education is Halal while terror is haram’. Boko Haram is not Islam and Boko Haram does not represent Islam or Muslims. We as women and mothers will not stop at street protests to demand for action, we will mobilize, organize and fight for the protection of the rights of the girl-child in Nigeria. We will in this instance, not relent until this government does what is expected of it: to apprehend the perpetrators and rescue the girls,” she said.