Friday, May 23, 2014

Chibok: Teachers’ Protest Paralyses Schools
Nigerian women grieve of the abductions of school girls.
by Our Correspondents on May 23, 2014
Nigerian National Mirror

Academic activities were suspended in public schools across the country yesterday as members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, took to the streets to demand the release of the over 200 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, abducted by the Boko Haram sect.

The union also said that it was protesting the killing of 173 teachers by militants in Borno and Yobe states.

The NUT had on Wednesday ordered all public schools to be shut yesterday to allow the teachers protest the abduction and demand the release of the school girls.

In Lagos, all public schools were shut as pupils and students who went to school were sent back in compliance with the NUT directive.

The teachers marched to the Lagos State Governor’s Office demanding that the government to bring back the girls.

Some of the placards carried by the protesters read: “Girl child slavery is Haram, bring back our girls,” “All the girls must be released now,” “We want our girls back,” and “Pray for our girls to return home.”

The teachers were received by the Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, who told the protesters that the abduction of the girls was condemnable and that the entire world was worried about the situation. In a letter addressed to Governor Babatunde Fashola, the teachers said saying they had been depressed ever since the students were kidnapped over one month ago.

In Ekiti State, the NUT Chairman, Kayode Akosile, who led the teachers on a protest march through major streets in Ado-Ekiti.

The teachers, who took off from NUT State Secretariat along Iyin Road, took a copy of their protest letter to the police headquarters and later assembled at popular Fajuyi Park.

Akosile told the gathering that it was unacceptable that nobody had a clue on the whereabouts of the girls who had been kidnapped for over five weeks.

The state NUT chairman also called on the Federal Government to expedite steps to secure the release of the girls safely and reunite them with their families.

A similar protest was staged in Akure, the Ondo State capital, where hundreds of teachers took to the streets as early as 8am before heading for the Governor’s Office at Alagbaka, Akure, to ask the Federal Government to exhibit strong political will to fight terrorism for peace to return to the country.

The Chairman of the union, Ojo Fanimokun, who led the protest, urged the Federal Government to demonstrate enough social responsibility and concern to guarantee security of lives and property in the country.

Fanimokun described the abduction of the schoolgirls and burning of schools as barbaric and an assault to humanity, an attack to teaching profession and education system in the country.

In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, the NUT Chairman, Musa Abubakar, who led the teachers in the protest to the Government House, regretted the killing of 173 teachers by the insurgents.

Abubakar said the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls was absurd and an assault on humanity as well as the teaching profession.

In Ogun State, NUT members and their leaders converged on their state secretariat in Abeokuta from where they commenced a solidarity protest and moved round the major streets of the capital, demanding the unconditional release of the girls.

Addressing the gathering, the Chairman, Dare Ilekoya, described the abduction and the killing of teachers as abnormal.

The protesters later moved to the Governor’s office in Oke Mosan where the leaders submitted their protest letter to Governor Ibikunle Amosun.

Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu said this year’s Children’s and Democracy Days would not be celebrated with the usual pomp as a mark of respect to those affected by security challenges currently facing the nation.

The Commissioner of Information, Communications and Strategy, Mr. Danladi Ndayebo, said that instead, both occasions would be marked with prayers for the nation.

He explained that the Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development would on Children’s Day mobilise children all over the state to pray for the release of the abducted girls.

In Awka, NUT, Anambra State chapter, also joined their colleagues to stage a peaceful protest.

During the protest which took place in front of the Government House, the teachers, drawn from the 21 local government areas, carried placards most of which condemned the harsh conditions facing teachers in Nigeria.

The protesting teachers, led by the NUT State Chairman, Ifeanyi Ofodile, asked the Federal Government to intensify efforts to stop the Boko Haram insurgency and get the Chibok girls released.

Simlarly, thousands of Imo State teachers stormed the streets of Owerri, the capital, to protest the abduction.

This is even as Governor Rochas Okorocha regretted that the country’s leaders had failed in their constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property.

The teachers’ procession, which blocked the major roads, caused a gridlock.

Addressing the teachers at the Government House, Owerri, Okorocha said that Nigerians must unite, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliation, and act quickly to bring the children back.

Imo State NUT Chairman, Cletus Okeke, who spoke on behalf of the group, lamented the activities of Boko Haram, describing it as an assault to humanity and attack on teaching profession.

In Adamawa State, the teachers, joined by sympathetic parents, appealed to the government to expedite action towards the release of the abducted girls.

The state Chairman of NUT, Dauda Maina, told Governor Murtala Nyako that they hoped that the perpetrators would soon be tracked down by security agencies to wipe away the tears of parents, the lamentations of the nation, and the disappointment of civil society organisations and the cry of the abused.

“We prayed that the reality of this inhuman, callous and bestial treatment of the innocent girls, obviously the future of the nation, will be put to an end. “Therefore the NUT joins the world to call on the insurgents and their collaborators to bring back our girls safe and alive,” he said.

In Bauchi, hundreds of teachers took to the street in a solidarity protest, demanding the immediate release of the abducted girls immediately.

The protest, which commenced at the NUT House, attracted large turnout of teachers, causing gridlock in major streets with armed policemen leading the peaceful protest.

Addressing the gathering at the Government House, the state NUT Chairman, Danjuma Sale, said their decision to embark on the solidarity streets protest was to express the teachers’ dismay over the abduction of the schoolgirls.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday assured that the abducted girls would soon return safe and sound to their parents.

Jonathan was addressing the “BringBackOur Girls” campaigners who had proceeded on protest march towards the Presidential Villa but were made to stop at the Federal Secretariat near the Eagle Square before they could get close to the entrance gate of the State House.

They were received by a high- powered government delegation led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, ministers, senior government officials and presidential aides.

The President, who spoke through Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, told the campaigners that he felt the pain of the abduction of the girls like every other Nigerians.

Jonathan said: “From the very first day, this kidnapping occurred, the Federal Government took action, directing our security services to go after the abductors.

“Government has mobilised all resources, military and diplomatic, in the search for our girls who have suffered so much trauma in captivity by agents of terror.”

Leader of the “Bring- BackOurGirls” campaign and former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, and other members of the group, demanded that the Federal Government must ensure the release of the schoolgirls.

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