On Thursday August 25, Members of the Bring Back Our Girls (#BringBackOurGirls) campaign in Nigeria rallied in front of the presidential villa in Abuja to continue their protest against the abduction of over 200 school girls as promised. Nigerianreporter.com reported on August 19 that the group originally wanted to march towards the villa because of what they feel is the Nigerian president’s continued failure to lead the Chibok school girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram over two years ago, to safety.
The protest was to pressurize the government to improve its efforts to rescue the over 200 Chibok school girls kidnapped from Borno State by Boko Haram militants. On August 14, 2016, Aljazeera Television reported that the terrorist organization released video of the girls in their custody and demanded the Nigerian government to release their kingpins if they want to see the girls alive. The released video led Bring Back Our Girls campaigners, who claim that 230 girls are still missing, to further their efforts to bring awareness to this tragedy.
According to Sahara Reporters, on Monday August 25, 2016, demonstrations began at around 8:30 a.m. at the Unity Fountain in Abuja. Protesters attempted to enter the presidential villa but were stopped by police officers at the gate. The group issued a statement jointly signed by its leaders, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, which was read during the protest march. The group implored President Buhari to swiftly make a firm decision for the girls immediate rescue, based on available options, which include military operation, negotiation with the terrorists, or a combination of both.
The campaigners also demanded that President Buhari should immediately constitute a Chibok Girls Rescue Operation Monitoring Team made up of representatives of the federal government, parents of the Chibok girls, KADA (the Chibok community), as well as members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.
In what many described as bowing to the group’s pressure, on August 28, the president while on an official trip to Kenya, announced his administration’s readiness to negotiate the release of the abducted Chibok girls including exchanging them with Boko Haram detainees. President Buhari’s administration would only enter into discussions with authentic leaders of the sect who are free to contact the federal government through internationally recognized Non-Governmental Organizations.
The President made his decision known while granting press interviews on the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development holding in Nairobi, Kenya.
With the federal government’s recent stand to exchange detained militants with the girls, it’s now left to see if Boko Haram leaders will respond to the president’s offer so that the innocent girls will return to their families in peace.
Although, despite the President’s comments on the possibility of exchanging the girls for detained militants, the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners continue with their daily rallies in Abuja at the time of this report.
In contract, the group expressed happiness that some of the girls are still alive in the custody of their abductors as shown in the video released by the militants, but this is not enough, until all regain their freedom.