The wife of Nigeria’s President-elect, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has called for international assistance for Nigeria to enable the immediate release and rehabilitation of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari made the call at the opening session of the Global Conference on Women and Social Inclusion, holding in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where women from around the world have gathered to mark the 20th anniversary of the Beijing action.
Addressing the congregation of women during one of the sessions, Mrs. Buhari revealed that the release of the Chibok schoolgirls and all the women seized by Boko Haram is one of the immediate priorities of her husband when he assumes office on May 29, 2015.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari who led the delegation of Nigerian women, including, Mrs. Mairo Al-makura, Nkechi Okorocha and Abike Dabiri, made a compelling case for international assistance for Nigeria to overcome Boko Haram.
She also spoke on the need to build confidence in both the parents and schoolgirls to ensure they continue their education.
Just as the violence against the Chibok schoolgirls attracted global attention, some of the participants at the conference also called for legislation that protect the working condition of women.
The gathering was also aimed at speeding up action on the 1995 Beijing resolution on gender equality for women and UNDP Representative, Helen Clark, said that although the level of women participation increased significantly to 22.1% in the last 20 years, more can still be done to attain the 35% affirmative action.
Top among those at the conference were the Director-General of the United Nations Women for Africa, Phumzile Miambo, former Malawian President, Mrs. Joyce Banda and right activists
The conference is providing Mrs. Aisha Buhari and the Nigerian delegation with gainful insight on how to address the challenges facing Nigerian women when her husband assume office later this month.
Events are being held globally to mark one year since more than 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria’s north-east region.
Starting from Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, a procession is to be held with 219 girls taking part to represent each missing girl. Similar marches are planned worldwide, including in London and Washington.
The abduction of the girls in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria sparked global outrage, with nations such as the U.S. and China promising to help find them.
There have been reported sightings of the girls, but none has been found. Boko Haram say the girls have converted to Islam and been married off. It has been a whole year of agony for the relatives of the missing 219 Chibok girls.
High-profile figures such as Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Malala Yousafzai and U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, were among those who drew attention to their plight on Twitter last year under the #bringbackourgirls hashtag.
The campaigners for the rescue of the Chibok girls say the federal government has allowed an open wound on the conscience of the nation by its inability to free the students after 364 days.
During their march across the nation’s capital, leader of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, maintained that the government had the opportunity to rescue the girls in the early days of their abduction but failed in its responsibility.
The group then called on the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari not to give any excuse on the matter as Nigerians are already in high expectations.
Campaigners calling for the rescue of over 200 girls abducted in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, have taken to the streets of Abuja as part of their week long activities to mark one year of the abduction of the schoolgirls.
Members of the group expressed worries over what they call sheer reluctance by government to rescue the girls who were abducted on April 14, 2014.
They marched on the streets of Abuja, distributing pamphlets and adorning trees and poles to remind Nigerians that 219 girls are still missing.
Convener of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, said that the group was surprised that the nation could move on without the girls for almost a year.
They asked several questions; how could the girls be forgotten for this long by those in authority? Why haven’t the military authorities ensured the safe return of the girls?
Nevertheless, members of the Bring Back Our Girls group expressed optimism that the girls can still be rescued before the May 29.
Former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has urged terrorist group, Boko Haram to release the more than 200 girls it abducted from Chibok, Borno State about 10 months ago.
Brown made the plea via a statement released on Friday, February 20 after the sect released 158 hostages.
“Now they have released some hostages, they should release them all,” Brown said.
“Boko Haram are piling cruelty upon cruelty by failing to free the girls,” Brown, who is now the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education, added.
The abduction of schoolgirls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014 sparked global outrage, offers of international assistance and a worldwide social media campaign with the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
He said there would be no let up in the campaign to find and free the girls, adding that if they are not released by the first anniversary of their captivity a vigil will be held at the United Nations in New York on April 14.
A Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe, on Monday, said “President Jonathan is like Jesus Christ, who the Christian faithful call the saviour of the world”, because the manner in which he (Jonathan) bears the burden of Nigerians is the same way Jesus Christ bore the burden of the world.
“People do not understand the burden this president is bearing. He’s like Jesus Christ. He’s bearing the burden of everybody,” Okupe said while commenting on the state of the nation on Sunrise Daily.
According to him, the efforts of the government in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency as well as in power were being hindered by external factors, even as the nation gears up for the 2015 elections, which Okupe said would be impossible for Jonathan to lose.
“I can’t see GEJ losing this election; It’s not possible.”
On managing serious challenges in Nigeria and also campaigning for a second term in government, Okupe noted that “the beauty of executive is being able to multitask,” which he said was one quality the President had.
However, there have been complaints concerning two major issues – security and power.
On electricity, Okupe explained that Nigeria has been “under-powered” for many years, noting that in Ikeja, Lagos State, the electrical infrastructure on ground is about 35 years old.
He admitted that “power is a problem”, which was why the government was working to improve generation and distribution, through the power reform.
He also noted that the equipment were expensive which had caused the private owners to borrow billions of dollars. “We are not there yet but we are certainly on an irreversible road to better power supply,” he further insisted.
Asked why the government did not first work on changing equipment before increasing generation, which also costs money, Okupe said that there was a limit the government could do as power was controlled 100% by the private sector.
“In the power situation, we are not there yet. We are definitely on a road that cannot change,” he emphasised, hinting that the government is working on huge dam projects to allow the private owners work effectively on distribution.
He also claimed that government efforts were being sabotaged by politicians who sponsor vandals to attack gas pipelines.
“We noted that there were 10 NIPP projects which were performing below 50 per cent”, he disclosed, alleging that some persons were making sure they underperformed so as to make the government appear incompetent.
He, however, added that the rate of sabotage had reduced in the past year.
On the state of security in Nigeria’s North East region, Okupe commended the government’s efforts, noting that all aspects of the war against terror, including funding, administration were being worked upon.
“Today, the Nigerian Army is in total and perfect control,” of North East, he added.
On the recent comments made by Governor of Borno State, Okupe said the governor “never fails to amaze me”, adding that majority of problems of insurgency was situated in his state but he was travelling to Lagos, London and other nations, to discuss insurgency but failed to meet the President on the matter.
Okupe argued that Boko Haram was a “multinational, international insurgency arrangement in Nigeria” as the group had links with ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other international terrorist groups.
He also said he did not know about the identity of the sponsors as he was not working with security.
He also claimed that there were huge political considerations in the fight against Boko Haram, making an example of General Buhari, who Okupe said had polled over 12 million votes in the North in the last election.
Okupe alleged that Buhari had said any attack on Boko Haram was an attack on the North and that Buhari’s recent condemnation of Boko Haram was as a result of his fourth bid to become Nigeria’s president.
#BringBackOurGirls Not Time Bound
Speaking about the 219 schoolgirls in Boko Haram captivity, Okupe said “the issue of Chibok girls was (an) emotion(al) tragedy but it is a tragedy that we must bear with fortitude,” noting that issues such as rape, murder and other atrocities were common in war.
“Chibok girls are a major thorn in the flesh of the administration,” he explained, stating that “If it was possible to get them yesterday I know that this government would have done it”.
He also called for caution in the rescue mission, noting that “any mistake will lead to their death” and that there’s no time limit for returning the girls alive.
The National Council of State in Nigeria has asked security agents to ‘add more venom’ to the fight against terrorism, stressing the need to end the attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group on villages and towns in the north-east.
The call was made by the National Council of State members on Tuesday after they were briefed of the security efforts of the agencies to end the over five years terrorism that has claimed thousands of lives in the north-east.
The Council of State meeting was held at the Presidential Villa and it was presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
In attendance were four former Heads of State – Generel Yakubu Gowon, Mr Shehu Shagari, Mr Ernest Shonekan and Mr Olusegun Obasanjo.
After a briefing by the National Security Adviser, the Council of State members observed that the government was doing everything possible to ensure that the schoolgirls abducted from their school’s dormitory by members of the Boko Haram sect in April were released safe and sound.
The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to securing the release of the girls.
It stressed the need for the security agents to add more venom to the fight against the Boko Haram sect that had continued to attack villages and towns in the north-east days after the Nigerian government said it had reached a ceasefire agreement with the Islamic sect.
The National Council of State is the highest policy making body in Nigeria and all past leaders are expected to attend the council meeting.
At the last count at the meeting venue, only four of them were in attendance.
The meeting was also briefed on Nigeria’s Ebola-free status by Governor Akpabio.
The council also reviewed the report by a committee set up to investigate reports of discriminations against persons that were infected but now free of the virus across the states and mandated the committee to beef up the recommendations of sanctions against anyone that is working against the unity of the country in any guise.
Renowned lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, in a letter to the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba Esq., accused the Force of being partisan regarding political and national issues in the country, describing the act as an “Illegal Policing Of The Republic”.
In the letter made available to Channels Television, Falana further cited major cases including the arrest of leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the Osun State governorship election, the ban on #BringBackOurGirls rallies and the recent withdrawal of Aminu Tambuwal’s aides, following his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC,
“Since you were appointed the Acting Inspector-General of Police by the President of the Republic on July 31, 2014 the Nigeria Police Force has been involved in partisan politics to the detriment of law and order in the country. Permit me to draw your attention to three glaring cases of political bias recently displayed by the Police under your leadership” the letter read.
Falana accused him of overstepping his boundaries, noting that “you decided to usurp the judicial powers of the federation which are exclusively vested in the courts by section 6 of the Constitution when you claimed that the Speaker had lost his office and seat as a federal legislator having contravened section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution”.
Buttressing his argument about the action taken against Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Falana said the Actinng IGPs “ations and utterances in the circumstance have exposed the Police to unwarranted ridicule”.
“Nigerians are not unaware of the fact that when the Ondo State legislators elected on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) decamped to the PDP last month your office did not declare their seats vacant. In particular, you did not withdraw the security details of Honourable Jumoke Akindele, the Speaker who led her colleagues to dump the LP for the PDP. In the same vein, Honourable Ahmadu Fintiri, the Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly and his colleagues who decamped from the PDP to the APC and have since returned to PDP. You did not have cause to declare their seats vacant. Neither have you withdrawn the security details of the Honourable Fintiri.”
He urged Abba to withdraw his pronouncement on the office and seat of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal and “advise the ruling party to seek redress in the Federal High Court on the constitutional implications of the defection”.
An Abuja High Court has ruled that the Police lack the powers to prevent protests against government’s handling of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls of the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.
Delivering judgement in the suit filed by members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group, Justice Ebenezer Aladetoyinbo declared that the Public Order Act, cap. 382, Laws of Nigeria, 1990, which the Police relied on, does not authorise the Police to disrupt rallies or processions on the abducted Chibok girls.
It all began as an attempt to put pressure on the Federal Government to rescue the 200 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in Borno State on April 14, 2014. Some Nigerians began a daily sit out at the Unity Fountain in Abuja.
However, the sit out by members of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign soon attracted attention which led to a former Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, banning the protests on June 2, 2014.
The #BringBackOurGirls activists responded to the ban with a court action which led to the judgement.
While the lawyer to the activists applauded the verdict of the court, the lawyer to the Police said that the judgement would be studied.
Peaceful street demonstrations in Abuja have become a regular feature of the campaign to put pressure on the government and keep the issue in the public domain.
All Progressives Congress chieftain, Audu Ogbeh, has apologized to the leadership of ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners over his comments about the group which has continued to generate reactions.
In a personal letter sent to the group in Abuja, the former National Chairman of the PDP said that his statement at an APC function was not intended to paint the group as an APC sub-group, especially because less than 2% of the group are members of the APC.
A portion of the apology letter from the former Minister of Communications reads: “If my statement caused you discomfort, I do apologize, but reiterate that I have nothing but respect and admiration for you for keeping a six month vigil and telling the world that the Nigerian conscience is not entirely dead.
“This world is watching us and making judgements. I wish you God’s blessings and protection.”
Reactions have trailed Audu Ogbeh’s statement that Nigeria’s major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, was behind the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign group.
The APC chieftain had made the claim in Abuja while addressing party faithful during the official declaration of General Muhamadu Buhari as the party’s presidential aspirant.
According to Audu Ogbeh, the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign group is led by members of the APC.
Activities of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners has long been discredited by some as politically motivated, even though they have kept the issue of the abducted schoolgirls burning locally and internationally.