Ninety-eight days after the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in a Federal Government School in Chibok, Borno State, northeast, Nigeria, a lawyer, Chris Akiri has accused the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners of politicising the issue, being on the payroll of politicians opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan and misdirecting their protests.
“The Chibok girls matter is very serious, leaves a very sour taste in the mouths of most right thinking people”, Akiri said, stressing, however, that although the girls have not been rescued since they were taken on April 14, the issue “has been overly politised”.
He alleged that “one could see almost with half an eye, that some of the members of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign are on the pay-roll of politicians”.
Akiri, who said the initial protest by the group was expected and okay, insisted that subsequent protests had been politicised. He further questioned the direction of the group’s demand, asking if the agitation was towards the President, the Borno Governor or the kidnappers.
“When the group went to Abuja, they wanted to break into the Presidential Villa and one was wondering if the President was the one who ordered the abduction of the girls?” he said.
He pointed out the protests held in the U.S and the U.K were not directed at the President but at the perpetrators.
“Don’t carp at anybody. Don’t find fault unnecessarily with anybody who is faultless, or almost faultless.”
He further argued that the Nigerian Army was not prepared to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency unconventionally, as guerrilla warfare was a new thing in the country and that the insurgents would have been exterminated otherwise.
He noted the persistence of the problem despite the presence of supporters from America, United Kingdom, Israel and Germany, insisting that the situation was difficult to solve.
Asked why it took Malala’s visit to get the President to meet the parents of the Chibok Girls, Akiri said desired result would not be gotten if things were done the wrong way. “She’s an international ambassador,” he stressed.
He urged that Nigerians “should rise up in unison against the perpetrators of the crime… just like it was done in America during the 9/11 bombing,” noting that the Americans had teamed up behind their President.
Bond By Shared Humanity
Reacting to allegations made by Mr Akiri, the Coordinator of the daily sit-outs by #BringBackOurGirls campaigners in Abuja, Bukky Shonibare, said she was “utterly disappointed” by the comments made, noting that “Nigerians need to come to that point where they realise that there are people who care for this country”.
She further discarded Akiri’s accusations as a “distraction”, noting that the campaigners are people who are bond by shared humanity.
She defended the group’s continued demand on the Federal Government to ensure the girls’ rescue, nothing that “when we were voting, we did not vote for Boko Haram”.
“We are simply civilians, we do not have authority to go to Sambisa and go to bring back our girls,” she added.
She noted that the Group had identified and engaged relevant stakeholders in strategic ways that are peaceful enough as enshrined in the Constitution.
“We developed a document called the Citizens’ Solution To End Terrorism, a 10 point paper advising the government on how to deal with insurgency,” the campaigner said.