Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chibok Girls: Police Stop Protesters in Abuja
Demonstration in Abuja on Dec. 25, 2014 calling for attention to
the continued abduction of over 200 school girls from Chibok.
DECEMBER 26, 2014
Nigeria Punch

Policemen on Thursday cut short a street protest by members of the #BringBackOurGirls movement as they walked along the Shehu Shagari Way,Abuja, distributing fliers to motorists and passers-by to remind them of the plight of the over 200 Chibok girls abducted 256 days ago by Boko Haram insurgents.

The protest coincided with the release of a video indicating that more of the escaped girls were set to resume school in the United States.

The policemen, numbering about 20, barricaded the road with their vehicles at the junction to the Presidential Villa, a move that enraged the activists who shouted in anger.

The protesters raised questions about the billions of naira raised for the victims of terrorism in the country through the Victims’ Support Fund, noting that the money was not being used to ameliorate the sufferings of the Internally Displaced Persons and other victims of insurgency.

The BBOG members, who took off from their regular meeting point, the Unity Fountain, Maitama, after a short session, initially walked to the National Assembly gate where they flayed lawmakers for proceeding on Christmas holidays while the abducted girls languished in the bush.

The National Coordinator of the group, Oby Ezekwesili, said the lawmakers should be “ashamed of themselves for going on break while the Chibok girls are with wicked men in the bush.”

A police patrol team which had been following the group from the Unity Fountain,   called for reinforcement and policemen in three vehicles quickly drove to the area and shut the NASS gate.

A   senior security officer was overheard by one of our correspondents telling   his boss on a     hand – held radio that “the protest is being led by a former Education minister.”

After spending a few minutes, the BBOG members left and as they walked towards the Presidential Villa junction, policemen in four vehicles   drove to the junction and blocked it to prevent the protesters from entering the Villa.

This infuriated the #BBOG members who railed against the operatives, but they were not deterred as they massed at the junction and shared   more fliers to motorists.

A member, Bukky Shonibare, who just returned from delivering relief materials to IDPs in Yola, Adamawa State, noted that 98 per cent of the people were not living in camps but with private families.

She explained that the displaced persons were suffering, adding that most of them lacked food, shelter, clothing and other basic needs.

Shonibare said, “Only 6,500 IDPs are living in government camps, the rest, about 500,000 people are staying with private families in Yola and they are really suffering. We took relief materials to them and they were just crying, they have no clothes, no blankets, some of them sleep on bare ground.

“What happened to the billions raised for the Victims’ Support Fund?”

Meanwhile, a video report by the British Broadcasting Corporation seen by one of our correspondents on Thursday showed more of the escaped schoolgirls arriving at their host’s residence in Virginia, United States.

Some of them had earlier been moved to the USA to continue their studies.

An unnamed Nigerian Christian missionary couple resident near Chibok, Borno State, had rallied round to find the pupils some private donors who mobilised funds and offered them scholarship for a two-year high school studies in the US.

When asked about their relocation to the US,   they all chorused, “It is beautiful.”

One of the girls said, “Last Christmas in Nigeria, we were afraid to stay in church for too long because we were afraid Boko Haram might come and attack us and we didn’t go around visiting people like we usually do. This Christmas, I am really happy.”

As they spend the Yuletide with their host family in   Virginia, the pupils remembered their colleagues still in Boko Haram custody as they took with them vests with the inscription, “Please help rescue 219 abducted Chibok girls.”

Also, another 18-year-old escapee, now studying at a boarding school in Canyonville, Oregon, Mercy Paul, had told the NBC News how she escaped when the sect attacked their school.

She prayed that the Islamic militants would turn to God and renounce their violent ways.

“In the Bible, God says that He can talk to people, even in their dreams. I pray that they find that God is forgiving and merciful and that they stop doing what it is that they’re doing,” she said.

Recalling the attack, Paul noted that the militants set their school on fire, before forcing them onto trucks and driving into the forest.

“I jumped,” Paul said, “not knowing if I would be able to walk or whether I would die.”

Some of the girls are being sponsored by a non-governmental organisation, Educate After Escape.

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