IN READINESS FOR THE RETURN OF OUR GIRLS
A PRESS STATEMENT ON THE MISSING CHIBOK SCHOOL GIRLS BY THE #CHOICE4LIFE ADVOCATES DATED MAY 5, 2014
Since Monday, April 14, 2014, more than 200 girls, mostly teenagers, were reportedly abducted by heavily armed men from their school in Chibok, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. The news of this event sent ripples across the nation, and many are yet to recover from the shock of such a catastrophe. While some of the abducted girls have escaped and returned home, the exact whereabouts of the others remain unknown.
Reports regarding this event, are increasingly dominating the media, especially the new media with the launch of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Also, Nigerians, especially women and some parents of the abducted girls have taken to the streets in different states and countries around the world. They all show solidarity through protests pressurizing government to swiftly and continuously take necessary actions to ensure the girls are returned home alive.
Apparently, incessant kidnappings have recently being on the increase in Nigeria. Victims suffer untold traumatic physical, psychological and emotional consequences. In this particular case, it is imperative to note that these girls are at high risk of sexual violence. While we earnestly anticipate their quick return in order to stop the continuous abuse they may be going through, it is imperative that we consider our readiness, especially our legal and health systems, to ensure that the victims immediately commence the process of full recovery upon their return.
We recognize the challenges of handling insurgencies such as this, as we unreservedly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of our military, para-military and other security personnel towards ensuring that peace, order, and security of lives and properties is restored in Nigeria.
We commend all the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians who have toiled over the last couple of weeks, to raise awareness about the kidnapped girls, and who have worked to pressure the government to go the extra mile towards bringing our girls home.
We appreciate the support from non-Nigerians, global leaders and the international media to the campaign for government to rescue our girls and bring them back alive.
We commiserate with the families and relatives of all the kidnapped girls, assuring them that Nigerians stand as one with them through these trying times.
To this end, we, the #Choice4Life Advocates, a group of young Nigerians from diverse ethno-religious and social background across Nigeria, who uses social media to advocate for non-violence and promulgation of relevant policies needed to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights of women; therefore demands that;
1. The Federal Government and the Borno State Government, through relevant security agencies, intensify and strengthen all current efforts being made towards the quick release of the girls.
2. Given the fact that our current laws on violence against persons, especially women, is insufficient in ensuring justice for the abducted girls upon their much-anticipated return, we request the National Assembly pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (#VAPPbill) without further delay so as to guarantee a robust legal framework needed to seek justice for the girls. The swift passage of the VAPP Bill will also, among others, boost the confidence of the citizens in the polity as well as serve as a legal protection of citizens against all forms of violence regardless of sex, age, culture, tribe or religion.
3. A policy on the right of every Nigerian to education should be formulated and included in our National Constitution and/or relevant documents so as to protect and guarantee the right of citizens to education regardless of cultural and religious beliefs. This is expected to take preeminence over any local, cultural, and/or religious policies, which are against right of citizens to education.
4. The education and empowerment of women should be given the adequate priority and urgent attention it requires.
5. All necessary structures and actions should be put in place immediately to forestall a repeat of this and similar incident in any part of Nigeria.
We do look forward to the earnest return of all the girls unharmed. It is time to #BringbackOurGirls Alive! Thank you.
1. Dr Laz Ude Eze
2. Mr Francis Anyaegbu
3. Mrs. Bukky Shonibare
4. Dr Chijioke Kaduru
5. Mr. Alkasim Abdulkadir
6. Pharm. Tolu Ogunlesi
7. Dr Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
8. Ms Busolami Tunwase
9. Mr. Akachukwu Okafor
10. Mr Kolo Kenneth Kadiri
11. Ms Oluwabusayo Sotunde
12. Mr Uche Briggs
13. Barr. Gabriel Okoro
14. Mr. Moses Nwokedi (Big Mo)
15. Dr Ugochi Nnaji
16. Mr. ‘Fisayo Soyombo
17. Dr Isa Jiddah Mohammed
18. Ms Joy Odiete (J’odie)
19. Mr. Ayodele Fanida
20. Mr. Stephen Oguntoyinbo
21. Dr Chioma Enyi
22. Engr. Stanley Azuakola
23. Mr. Kamil Alebiosu
24. Mr. Franklin C. Uzor
25. Dr Patrick Ezie
26. Mr. David Nnaji
27. Mr. Jeremiah Agenyi
28. Mr. Stanley Achonu
29. Ms Tosin Ajibade
30. Dr Hamid Adediran
31. Mazi Moses Idika
32. Mr. Uche Njoku