NOBEL Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to ensure the release of 230 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Professor Soyinka made the call on a day a coalition of women's rights in Borno expressed their readiness to mobilise thousands of women to embark on a voluntary search and rescue mission into the notorious Sambisa forest, to ensure the release of the abducted students.
Senate President, David Mark, on his part described the abduction of the girls as sacrilegious.
Meanwhile, members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, have threatened to kill the abducted students, should the search to recover them continue.
Soyinka tasks FG
Professor Soyinka, who gave the keynote address in Port Harcourt at the opening ceremony of declaration of Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014, said the focus of the event was for the Federal Government to ensure the safe release of the students.
He said he had expected President Goodluck Jonathan to convene an emergency security meeting over the ugly development in the school after the abduction of the students.
He noted that the ongoing book fair in Port Harcourt was a national rejection of Boko Haram, adding that the Islamic sect does not reflect the teachings and values of Islam.
Minutes after his address, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and the Project Director, Rainbow Book Club, Mrs Koko Kalango led the gathering to make a collective demand for the girls' release.
Storming Sambisa forest
The Borno women, under the auspices of BAOBAB Women's Right, have said they were ready to storm the major hide out of the insurgents in Sambisa forest, where the abducted girls were believed to be held.
Spokesperson for the group, Professor Hauwa Biu, told newsmen that they resolved to embark on the rescue mission when it was evident that no reasonable progress was being achieved in the rescue efforts.
Biu said: "We are ready to go into the forest and search for the girls. In fact, we are prepared to risk our lives and get up to Boko Haram camp and appeal to them to release the children to us so that they can re unite with their parents.
"There is nothing extraordinary in our quest to enter the dangerous forest. We learnt that some men in Chibok had earlier embarked on such mission, which later turned out to be fruitless.
"We felt that as mothers, we are in a better position to have the sympathy and concern over the fate of the missing girls.
"Our target is not to fight the abductors, but we want to beg them to release the girls in the name of the God that we all worship."
The group urged security forces to expedite action in their search and rescue mission of the students so that their parents can have rest of mind.
Biu appealed to security agents to make use of sophisticated weapons in detecting the location of the abductors for easy rescue operation.
She described the abduction of the school girls as inhuman, abuse of human rights, capable of scuttling efforts for enhanced girl child education in the state and the country at large.
She said: "The abduction of the innocent girls violates their human rights, and it is a crime against humanity and prohibited under international humanitarian law.
"Women in Borno strongly condemn this act in its totality as it deprives children their right to learn in a safe environment, thereby jeopardising their future."
Biu also appealed to the insurgents to lay down their arms and hold dialogue with the government.
She said: "We wish to appeal to the insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue. We assure them of our motherly support toward rehabilitating them when the need arises
"We condemn all other attacks in form of bomb blasts and serial killings all over the country and commiserate with the families of those who lost their relations during the unfortunate incidents.
"We commend the efforts of Borno and Federal governments as well as youths and vigilantes in addressing the current insurgency in the country.
"However, bearing in mind the continuous attacks on schools, we appeal for the provision of adequate security to all schools so as to have a safe learning environment for our children."
Meanwhile, Senate President, Senator David Mark has described as sacrilegious the abduction of the female students and called for their release.
The Senate President, in a statement by his Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, in Abuja, yesterday, said the abduction was embarrassing and that no nation that had the desire to develop would indulge in such dastardly act.
He pleaded with the captors to listen to the voices of reason and release the teenagers.
According to the statement, "Senator Mark imagined the harrowing experience the students had been subjected to by their captors and the mental and psychological torture parents and guardians of the students had faced."
He said no nation could justify the abduction of the children whose only offence was that they chose to go to school to better their lots and contribute to the socio economic and political development of their fatherland.
Mark said: "It is a sad commentary and a terrible assault on our psyche as a people. In the good old days of Nigeria this was a taboo and unarguably unheard of."
The Senate President canvassed for synergy between and among security agencies, especially in the area of information gathering and sharing to facilitate their rescue, stressing that the deteriorating situation was making a mockery of the nation.