And it's curious that the Doyin Okupe, an advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan could go on international media to say with a straight face, that Nigeria is winning the battle against Boko Haram.
Nigeria 'not losing Boko Haram battle,' says president's adviser
If so, where are our girls?
The #BringBackOurGirls Abuja family is taking the right step by bringing a lawsuit that challenges this infringement on the democratic rights of these noble citizens of Nigeria.
Here is a statement from the group:
In light of the ban of all Chibok Girls protest issued by CP Mbu, we wish to inform you that our lawyers, Femi Falana SAN of Falana Chambers will be filling a suit today to challenge the legality of the action.
Our sit -out for today shall not hold as we shall all convey at the court to accompany our lawyer to file the suit.
Below is our press statement issued out this morning on the purported ban.
And since Nigeria is 6 hours ahead of EST, the lawsuit should now be ongoing. Members of the #BringBackOurGirls are asked to converge @ FCT High Court, Maitama #BringBackOurGirls
Dear Wonderful People,
We would be converging at the FCT High Court, Maitama for the filling of a suit to challenge the legality of the action of Police ban of protests in Abuja [#BringBackOurGirls campaign].
Time: 12 noon
Dress Code: Red T-Shirt with #BringBackOurGirls Now and Alive inscription, OR any Red apparel.
Hence, the visit to the court would now serve as our sit-out.
The Chibok Girls deserved all the legitimate sacrifice we can muster at this time.
We refused to be distracted from our singular demand: #BringBackOurGirls - Now and Alive!
We shall not fail Our Girls in ensuring that they are brought back home to their families- Now & Alive!
Please inform others.
Re: Purported Ban on All Protests on the Chibok Girls in FCT by Police Commissioner
We are members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, a citizens movement advocating for the speedy rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from Chibok Secondary School, Borno state. Ours has been a single-issue campaign for the safe return of the abducted girls. In the last 34 days we have done so through peaceful daily sit-outs, and some marches to key governmental actors urging them to act swiftly to rescue the girls from the terrorists.
Earlier today we received with shock the statement credited to the FCT Commissioner of Police Joseph Mbu that "...All Protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect…"
We wish to remind the Commissioner of Police Mbu that he cannot take any action that violates our Constitutionally guaranteed rights as citizens, particularly our rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, amongst others as enshrined in Chapter Four (Section 40) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
We are puzzled about the inconsistencies in the communication emanating from the Nigerian Police. We recall that on 12th May, 2014, the Nigeria Police Force on its website published a news item with the title: "Police Not Against Peaceful Assemblies" in which the Inspector-General of Police, M.D. Abubakar restated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens.
Over the last 34 days, we have been widely acknowledged, including by the Police and the Federal Government delegation, which represented President Jonathan at one of our meetings for the peaceful, disciplined, and decorous manner we have always conducted the activities of our movement. In consonance with our approach, we shall tomorrow be in court with our lawyers, Femi Falana SAN to file a suit challenging this purported ban by C.P. Mbu.
In the interim, we shall not hold our sit-out tomorrow 3rd June, because we shall be accompanying our lawyers to the Court where we hope to obtain an immediate restraint on this unconstitutional, undemocratic and repressive act. Our Movement is legitimate and lawful and cannot be arrested by the police whose responsibility is to enforce, not betray the law.
We, the members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, remain resolute and will persist in using all lawful means to sustain our peaceful advocacy for the safe rescue of the Chibok Girls. We therefore encourage all those in Nigeria and other Nations that have similarly taken a stand for the cause of the girls to continue to do so with the clarion call: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, NOW AND ALIVE!!!
Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman
For the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family
And here below is a piece done by Maryam Uwais
Chibok, the Coalition and the Federal Government of Nigeria
When, on the morning of 15th of April 2014, an obviously very distressed guard from Chibok approached me, to inform me of the abduction of almost 300 girls from the Government Secondary School in his hometown, I looked at him in utter disbelief. How do almost 300 girls get carted into trucks and taken away, in one fell swoop?
Over the next few days, however, my dread and apprehension slowly manifested into inescapable reality. To this date, our girls still remain in captivity, almost two months after that awful morning. In the period, the BringBackOurGirls Coalition, beginning with one tweet and several protest marches in many State capitals of Nigeria, has succeeded in drawing the attention of the entire world to the plight of these 273 Nigerian girls, who were driven away into the Sambisa forest, without a trace. As a consequence, several countries have offered to support Nigeria in it’s efforts at rescuing them, while protests continue and prayers are being offered, all over the world, for their safety and swift return.
Terror knows no boundaries; everyone is affected by the bombings and killings, without exception. For once, Nigerians from all walks of life, irrespective of ethnicity or faith, are united on this singular effort and message. Our citizens have risen in an unprecedented show of unity, to demand that the girls’ be rescued, while the international community has been galvanized, in an awesome demonstration of human solidarity, to join Nigerians in this quest.
For me, as each day passes, and especially when the sun begins to fade, sobriety overwhelms me. I try to imagine what it must be like for those little girls in the Sambisa forest. I think of the descending dark of night enveloping them; slithering poisonous snakes; wonder how they can keep clean, eat and drink clean water. I imagine them holding onto each other, crying and struggling earnestly to give each other courage. Then I remember those evil men, and my mind draws a blank. I cannot think any further. This must be every mother’s worst nightmare; that her child is kidnapped by armed men, to a place beyond her reach, for days unending. I shudder with the thoughts of how the parents and that community must feel; the suspense and the anguish they must be going through.
I resolve again and again that I must do all that I can to keep the issue on the front burner of the Nigerian discourse. I cannot sit at home and lament about the situation so helplessly; I must remain engaged and involved. I must find creative ways of collectively and constructively engaging our citizens on security concerns, and our leaders on how we can support them, to make our country a safer and more peaceful place to live in. We cannot allow that the girls be forgotten or sidelined by other ‘breaking news’, for that would amount to abandoning them (and their families) to a fate worse than death.
So I have committed to the BringBackOurGirls campaign. The BringBackOurGirls Coalition has become, for me, a place of solace and hope; where Nigerians from all walks of life and irrespective of religion and ethnicity, come together as one, completely shutting out the divisive cacophony of voices in our public sphere, who continue to use these superficial dissimilarities to garner selective advantage. We, as a Coalition, have tried to engage our leaders, elected and appointed, who swore on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to protect and secure our lives and our welfare. These include the leadership of the National Assembly, the Office of the National Security Advisor, The Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Governor of Borno State and finally, the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Our meetings with the National Assembly and the Office of the National Security Advisor were constructive and reassuring, but the response from the President, as read out by the Minister of State of the Federal Capital Territory, was disappointing, as it displayed a defensiveness that was unfounded and totally unnecessary. Paradoxically, even though the content of his letter warned against politicizing the Chibok incident, the message from the Executive continues to attribute politics to the discourse, in a matter that is so plainly about safeguarding the lives of vulnerable Nigerian citizens.
The narrative that has since emerged from our engagement with the President’s representatives suggests that Nigerians should direct their message to Boko Haram, to ‘release the girls’, as the message, ‘bring back our girls’, appears to place the blame on government for the incident. As far as the Federal Government is concerned, since it is not in custody of the girls, the demand should be directed at Boko Haram. Ever since then, our peaceful protests (as a Coalition) have been characterized by intimidation. Government buses, loaded with women, have been brought to the precise location where we meet, to sing and dance around the Coalition, in an effort to drown out our voices.
Thugs have been unleashed on one of our meetings, to disrupt our peaceful discussions, snatch bags, phones and break chairs, without provocation. A Government Minister has accused us of being partisan, inferring that we are opposition. We are locked out of parks when we relocate to other public spaces. Determined to remain focused on our singular campaign to bring back our girls, however, we have not reacted or allowed ourselves to be provoked into violence. We have continued to meet wherever we can, notwithstanding these distractions. Precisely because our girls are still out there, somewhere unknown and in danger, and our purpose for meeting remains unfinished.
We are accused of being opposition, merely because we have dared to ask our elected leaders to be accountable to the people that voted them in. I, personally, have never subscribed to any political party and have striven, all my working life, to assist, wherever I can, to making my country a better place. Our 1999 Constitution guarantees me the freedom to assemble, associate and express myself. I ask myself why Government should be so nervous and react so negatively to the demand that it lives up to it’s responsibilities; why should they insist that I direct my questions to Boko Haram? I do not know what the membership of Boko Haram consists of, where they are or how they operate. But I do know my leaders and firmly believe they are in office to serve Nigerians and Nigeria. A responsible leadership should take steps to assuage and allay its citizen’s fears by being receptive and approachable. This is what we see obtains all over the world; should I not remind our own leaders that they are in office for the purpose of service? Most importantly, Government should not alienate it’s own people by intimidating and labeling us enemies of State, especially when all we seek to do is to peacefully exercise our constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.
Moreover, every Nigerian has the right to demand for answers from their leadership, even if politics is our particular vocation in life. Indeed, as Nigerians, we are each, individually bigger than the components (of the identities) of the faiths we profess; greater than our vocations (as politicians), roles or professions; larger than our sundry ethnic groups. We are human beings. Is it so difficult to comprehend that when we confront our leaders with our security concerns, we do not recall what ethnic group or culture they belong to, what language they speak or faith they subscribe to? We do not remember what party platform they utilized to attain office. Can our leaders just please trust that all we want are results and an outcome that is reassuring to us, as citizens?
Yesterday evening, in an inexplicable admission of his incapacity (or unwillingness) to ‘protect citizens from terror’ (his ostensible justification) within the FCT jurisdiction, the FCT Commissioner of Police ‘banned’ the BringBackOurGirls Coalition from holding protests in public places. In a democratic dispensation! We, as law-abiding citizens, have decided to challenge this violation of our constitutionally guaranteed rights, in a court of law. Perhaps we have been under Military rule for too long, and this is why the leadership should feel a sense of outrage, that citizens should dare to remind them that they have responsibilities towards them.
I had hoped and prayed that when the girls are finally rescued, ALL Nigerians, including our President and members of the Coalition would be able to stand together, on the same platform, to welcome them, rejoicing ecstatically. Sadly, members of the Executive in our Government, by their recent tactics, demonstrate a paranoia that renders this scenario mere wishful thinking, on my part.
All we want and continue to demand for is that our girls to be brought back, safe and alive. This singular message has been consistent, loud and clear and cannot be different from what the Government would want to happen. Government just needs to accept that not everyone is the enemy. Not everyone is interested in politics or holding public office. Not everyone is out to disparage, blame or denigrate the other. On the contrary, most Nigerians are more interested in living in peace and harmony. We yearn to be assured of security and protection. We crave a leadership that is responsive, accountable, empathetic and result-oriented.
And all we are asking for now is for those in positions of leadership to ensure that our girls are brought back, now and alive!
1st June 2014