Women to march on Abuja over 234 abducted girls

Women are set to mount a massive protest for the release of the 234 girls abducted by Book Haram insurgents on April 15.
An all-red attired women will march on Abuja on Wednesday to press for the release of the girls kidnapped from their hostel at the Government Secondary School, Chibok.
Prof. Hauwa Abdu Biu hinted yesterday of the planned protest in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, during an emergency meeting convened by the wife of the governor, Hajiya Nana Kashim Shettima.
The meeting was on the way forward for the release of the school girls.
Prof. Biu, speaking last week on behalf of the Coalition of Borno Women, said women were ready to storm the Sambisa forest where the girls are believed to be held, to secure their freedom.
Yesterday, she told the meeting that the march, which will be tagged “Free our girls”, will involve women all over the country. She urged the wife of the governor to mobilise women to Abuja for the rally.
“The last time we were in black, but this time around, the colour for the Abuja rally is red. So we should all be prepared and mobilised for the rally,” she added.
Hajia Shettima urged wives of the service chiefs in the state and at the federal level to mount pressure on their husbands to intensify efforts towards rescuing the girls.
“I want to seek this opportunity to appeal to women of security chiefs at the national and state levels to mount pressure on your spouses to intensify effort to rescue our dear children. However, I feel it is necessary to call on all women in Borno to come up with their resolutions and harmonise them.
“Let us all put our differences aside, irrespective of our faith and ethnic group. Let us all join hands to rescue these girls. I know that we can do it. Almighty Allah is with us. He knows our intention,” she said, sobbing.
The governor’s wife recalled that she received a call from First Lady Patience Jonathan two days ago and “I believe she is also with us”.
Other women urged the Federal Government and the security agencies to intensify efforts towards rescuing the girls.
But Mrs Aisha Wakil, a member of the defunct Lemu panel on Boko Haram and other insurgents, called for restraint.
According to her, the use of force in rescuing the girls might not achieve the objective.
Wives of military chiefs in the state, officials of non- governmental organisations, representatives of Federation of Muslims Women Associations (FOMWAN), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other categories of women attended the meeting.
However, there were strong indications last night that troops night have gained access to a part of the Sambisa Forest.
Also, many volunteers have been feeding the military with information on how to locate the abducted girls, according to sources.
Some of the clues confirmed intelligence report that the girls were being spread across camps and cells by the insurgents to serve as shields.
A military source said: “There is progress in the search for the girls. The troops have been able to gain access to a part of Sambisa Forest even though it is a difficult terrain. This development will help in penetrating the forest not only for rescuing the girls but for the entire operation in Borno State.
“In the next few days, we will be able to confirm whether the girls were still holed up in the Forest or elsewhere. But so far, many informants have been assisting the military with clues.
“We are taking advantage of the clues to coordinate operations in the area and movement of troops.”
Defence Information Director Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade said “the search for the girls is still ongoing.”
Also yesterday, The Nation learnt that the ongoing probe into the Nyanya, Abuja bomb explosion, has led to the recovery of some vital components of the Improvised Explosive Devices used by the suicide members.
Another source added: “The investigative team briefed some security chiefs on Friday. They have been able to recover some items used for the IEDs.
“These items are being analysed to find out if they have bearing with the types being used by Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, the Taliban or Al-Sabab. It will also assist the government if these items were locally assembled.
“The outcome of the forensic analysis can provide clues on how to trace the perpetrators whether they are in clusters or just individuals.”
Also yesterday, members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State vowed to support the military to end terrorism and bring back peace to the state.
Two members of the youth vigilance group made the promise on Sunday in Maiduguri in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Mr Abubakar Mamuda, the chairman of the group in Gomari-Airport Area of Maiduguri, said they were compelled to join the military to fight the insurgents because Borno was their state.
He said they decided to support the security agencies to ensure Borno was safe for their parents and relations since they had no other place to call their own.
“We are trying to protect our heritage and our state since we have no other place to call our own.
“Nobody forced us, we just volunteered to do it, we started some months ago and people ran away and left us hoping that members of Boko Haram will kill us.
“Members of the group that started the operation were few because the people were scared of Boko Haram; there is a lot of improvement now and we are happy,’’ he said.
Mamuda praised the Federal Government for deploying the military to Borno, adding that the group had gained a lot of experience working with the military.
Another member, Mallam Hassan Mohammed, said the group was doing the job because it desired that peace should return to Borno.
“We want peace to return to Borno as our parents, brothers and sisters live here in Maiduguri and we are not happy as we were being killed unjustly.
“So, we decided to assist the security agencies to curb the security challenges,” Mohammed said.

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