Nigerian government stops public protest for missing girls

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Young women who are not too much older than the girl student who were abducted protest on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria's capital city.
Young women who are not too much older than the girl student who were abducted protest on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s capital city.

(WNN) Abuja, NIGERIA, WESTERN AFRICA: After weeks of frustration Nigerian parents, along with advocates, of the abducted Chibok school girls are now being told they can no longer protest in the streets of the capital city of Abuja, or in other regions throughout Nigeria.

With rising tensions in the region, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, has now banned all public protests connected to the abduction of over 200 girls from a local christian secondary (high) school that was attacked and burned as girls present at school were kidnapped from the town of Chibok on April 14.

“Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive(s) aimed at embarrassing the government. Accordingly protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect,” said the Commissioner to the press on Monday.

As tensions persist throughout the country, male attorney John Oloyede is asking for Nigeria’s government to step in and conduct a hostages-for-prisoners trade deal with Boko Haram, the Nigerian extremist group responsible for the girls’ abductions in the northeastern Borno State of Nigeria.

Nigeria should not find it difficult to negotiate with the Boko Haram sect for the sake of the 200 Chibok girls, the attorney said on Monday June 2 on Nigeria’s Channels Television network show ‘Sunrise Daily’.

Now unable to voice their concerns in the form of street protest, some of the mothers of the abducted girls are speaking out on television as they share the impact and pain they personally feel under anxiety and worry in the continuation of what is thought to be hard conditions for their missing daughters, who have been taken as hostages by Boko Haram.

“I miss her very much,”  said one mother who was interviewed live on the Monday news coverage on Channels TV broadcasting from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. “What I pray is that one day the almighty will open heaven… and send his glory upon them… and one day maybe I will see her by the grace of God.” the mother continued.

“I just feel like killing myself or just disappearing from the world,” added the mother who took time to meet with television journalists to share her frustration as the situation for the abducted girls enters its seventh week this week.

As the situation continues to be unresolved discussions about religious tension between Christian and Muslims in the northeastern region is on the plate as some believe the attacks by Boko Haram are not based purely on religion alone.

But others do not agree.

“In the Sahel, home to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and to the jihadists who until recently controlled northern Mali, Boko Haram has emerged as the nastiest of a nasty new breed. Calling for, among other things, an Islamic government, a war on Christians, and the death of Muslims it sees as traitors, the group has been connected with upwards of 4,700 deaths in Nigeria since 2009,” said National Geographic reporter James Verini in his coverage on the continuing conflict in northern Nigeria.

In a public outcry on Twitter, activists worldwide have been using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to organize and communicate action campaigns and the latest news coming from Nigeria on the plight of what is now guessed to be approximately 200 missing abducted girl students.

After parents with missing teenage daughters positively identified 83 of 137 girls shown in a recent Boko Haram video that was released on May 19, actions to save the girls does not seem to be getting any closer. Numerous parents have also given photographs of their daughters to the police for identification purposes.

The Boko Haram counterinsurgency group is feared throughout the region and, according to Amnesty International, is responsible for over 1,500 deaths to date in Nigeria.

With relatively little action by Nigerian authorities, some parents have begun to take rescue attempts into their own hands. Growing anger from a stalled government response has also caused many of the parents and others in Borno State to intensify their demands for swift action for the girls’ rescue.

But the attempt to rescue is a complicated one. The forest region where the girls are thought to have been taken has become a strong-hold for Boko Haram. The forest region known as the Sambisa wildlife reserve spans, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) World Bank data, a wide 51,800 hectares (200+ square miles) over some regions that include dense forests, a diverse wildlife population and specific swamp areas during Nigeria’s rainy season.

“It actually took the intelligence services a long time to discover that the game reserve had become a hideout for the sect,” said an unnamed Nigerian intelligence agent to The Nation, Nigeria’s daily newspaper.  “They waited three years until several lives had been lost before acting reluctantly on the intelligence advises,” the agent outlined.

“As a matter of fact, Sambisa is not the only hideout of the insurgents,” he continued.

As an experienced rebel army Boko Haram is hard to pin down. Nigerian army officials know the terrorist group migrates often and uses nighttime tactics to fulfill their operations.

“The girls will be moved tactically from one base to another mostly in the night so that they cannot recognise where they were. They will finally end up in Sambisa or Algoni, the two most dreaded bases remaining for the managers of the nation’s security to bring down,” the Nigerian intelligence agent added.

Many parents, as well as activists and other concerned Nigerians, fear that the girls will end up being used by the rebel army as sex-slaves, or a source of money if they are sold into international human trafficking networks. This knowledge is intensifying demands by mothers of the girls, and many others, for the Nigerian government to step up and act swiftly to find the girls.

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Channels Television broadcasts from Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja on Monday June 2, 2014, as they interview mothers of some of the missing girls who have been abducted by religious extremist group Boko Haram. The issue of religious strife in Nigeria between Islamic fundamentalists and Christians has been on the discussion table in the region for some time as some agree and others do not agree that religion is a major contributor to the violent actions conducted by Boko Haram.

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