Abuja — Senators took turn in Abuja on Tuesday to express anger over the fate of the 234 abducted female students of the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Chibok, Borno State, still in custody of suspected Boko Haram insurgents since two weeks ago.
The Senators, who were practically in tears, accused neighbouring countries of Cameroun, Niger and Chad of aiding and abetting the current insurgency in Nigeria.
They spoke at plenary while debating a motion sponsored by Senate Leader, Victor Noma-Egba, and 108 others on the abduction of the schoolgirls.
Some of the Senators further alleged internal sabotage within the security agencies deployed to the North East state to fight the Boko Haram terrorists.
They lamented that the security operatives had failed to achieve the purpose for which they were deployed.
Following from the motion, the Senate urged the Federal Government and all security agencies to intensify efforts to immediately rescue the students from the grip of the insurgents.
It also urged the Federal Government and the security agencies to seek the cooperation and aids of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Organisation (UNO) to deploy advanced technological means, including dialogue, towards rescuing the children safely.
The Senators, who were highly emotional on the matter, further implored government at all levels to provide adequate security to schools in their areas. They also prayed for the safe release of all the children.
Presenting the motion, Ndoma-Egba said: "The Senate notes with grief the inhuman abduction of secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State, by alleged Boko Haram terrorists.
"Senate also notes that, just when the country was nursing its grief caused by the rush hour bombing of a bus park in the nation's capital, Abuja, which killed over 75 people and wounded dozens more, the country was struck yet with another devastating blow: the abduction of about 234 girls from their school in Chibok on 15th April, 2014.
"Senate notes that on the 15th April, 2014, the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, was attacked when militants broke into the school, shooting the guards and abducting a large number of students in trucks into the Sambisa forest, a known hideout for the Boko Haram sect.
"The Senate is disappointed that two weeks after their disappearance, the girls' whereabouts are still unknown. And about 44 escaped by jumping from the back of the truck used to ferry them away or by sneaking out of the abductors' camp deep inside the Sambisa forest.
"The Senate is hopeful that the offer of assistance by Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom to rescue the students would come with all the required technology, including the deployment of the drones, which the United States had used to great positive effect to tracking/fighting terrorism elsewhere."
Contributing to the motion, Ahmad Zannah representing Borno Central, informed the Senate that the insurgents had moved the girls to Cameroun and Chad, expressing pessimism on the ability of the security operatives to rescue the girls from their captors.
Zannah, who gave a graphic detail of the movement of the insurgents with the abducted girls, said it was lack of willingness on the part of the military operatives to combat the insurgency that led to the escalation of the menace.
He told the Senate that he constantly furnished the security with information on the itinerary of the Boko Haram insurgents to enable the armed forces track them down, but they never acted on his information.
"I rise to adopt this motion passionately, based on the ages of the girls that were involved and the human lives that have suffered as a result of this unfortunate development. Since the beginning of this saga, I kept mute on this issue as far as press releases and press interviews are concerned.
"I have been constantly in touch with the security agencies, telling them the developments, the movement of the girls from one place to the other and then the splitting of the girls and eventually the marriage of these girls by the insurgents. "What bothers me most is that whenever I inform them where these girls are, after two to three days, they will be moved from that place to another and still, I will go back and inform them that see, this is what is happening.
"I lost hope two days ago, when I found out that some of them were moved to Chad and Cameroon. Actually, some of them moved through the Mandara Mountain, that is in Gwoza and some of them are just a stone's throw from their barracks.
"It all depends on their willingness. If the state of emergency was extended, I was interviewed by the press on whether the military would succeed and I said yes, if there was willingness, they will. "Their number is not all that much as being touted and without cooperation form certain groups of people within the security agencies, there is no way these people will survive like this.
"But when we talk, they will say we are against them; we are exposing them, we are demoralising their troops. These are the facts. "So, unless there is spirit of seriousness on the part of our military, we have no hope of getting those girls. Even if we are going to get them, we are going to get them in trickles; maybe getting two, three, four, and five. "They are now scattered. So it is not possible for us to get 50, 60,100 in one particular position. This is the position as at today," Zannah narrated.
Also, contributing, Maina Lawan representing Borno North, said: "We have to face the reality; the truth is that we are not doing enough".
He called for cooperation among all Nigerians and the security agencies in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the country.
"Everybody must cooperate so that we confront this evil. The atrocity is getting over the roof. This issue has to be confronted with everything. "Nigerian military is the only military we have; something is lacking in our military. We must stop pointing fingers and fight the Boko Haram. This madness must stop," he pleaded.
Mohammed Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South on his part observed that the security operatives were doing their best, but pointed out that their weapons were inferior to the sophisticated equipment of the insurgents.
He also said the military personnel were not motivated enough to prosecute the war against the terrorists in the North East region, adding that their allowances were not paid, while their equipment were obsolete to face the insurgents.
Enyinnaya Abaribe, in his position, expressed concern over the allegation that the security agencies deployed to fight the insurgents were not acting on intelligence information available to them, alleging that there must be act of sabotage among the operatives.
"If people are giving information and nothing is done, then there is near national sabotage. There is no doubt about it," he said.
Also, Ayogu Eze, Kabiru Gaya, Ahmed Lawan, Nenadi Usman, Ganyiu Solomon, Mohammed Magoro and Ehigie Uzamere all expressed concern on the matter, calling on government and the security agencies to put more effort in the raging battle against terrorism in the land.
In the same vein, the House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned all the heads of military high command to appear and brief it on efforts so far made to the rescue the girls from their captors.
Adopting a motion under Matters of Urgent Public Importance by Peter Biye Gumtha on the abduction saga, the House also urged the relevant security agencies to expedite actions on their rescue mission.
While calling on government to seek foreign assistance in the effort to rescue the girls, the House also called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide relief materials to those whose houses and shops were burnt down during the operation.
Gumtha who represents the Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency of Borno State had while moving the motion expressed concern that the traumatised parents were yet to receive any reliable information on the whereabouts of their children, adding that rescue efforts may have been slow due to the poor condition of the Mbalala-Chibok-Damboa federal road, spanning about 50 kilometres across the affected area.
Members unanimously condemned the incident during debate which took a better part of the House's plenary on resumption from the Easter recess.
Another angle to the frustration of Nigerians over the fate of the schoolgirls was the demonstration by mothers numbering about 200 at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
They were protesting what they described as lack lustre attitude of government to rescuing the girls.
The protesting mothers demanded urgent intervention of Senate President, David Mark, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, in the efforts at getting the Presidency to buckle up in facilitating the release of the children.
The women who were carried placards with various inscriptions such as, 'Mr President Rescue Our Daughters'; 'A Vacuum Has Been Created'; 'Nigeria Come to our Rescue'; 'Save Our Daughters'; 'Our Girls Are in Captivity'; among others, blocked the entrance to the Assembly complex at about 12.00 noon.
Under the leadership an activist lawyer and human rights crusader, Ahmodu Daniel Wadai, and a female leader, Naomi Mutah, the group insisted they must see the Senate President, Speaker of the House and other principal officers of the National Assembly to register their protest against the current state of affair.
They also requested to see members of the National Assembly representing the constituency where the abduction took place.
According to Wadai, there was no federal presence in Chibok, the host town to the Government Girls Secondary School where the abduction took place.
"I am a lawyer, I 've already put down my wig and gown to die for this course," he stated.
Mrs Naomi Mutah also said: "We are here to express our angst against the abduction. Our grievance is that we are not aware of the whereabouts of these girls. Our daughters have been distributed to theses hoodlums in the forests".
The Senate President had while welcoming Senator back from the Easter recess advocated the use of maximum military action to flush out the terrorists who have unleashed violence on the country.
He said that Nigeria was already at war, and that the country's enemies had clearly served the nation notice of its vile intentions to subject its citizenry to socio-economic and psychological torments.
Accordingly, he advocated a decisive military response from the government beyond the imposition of a state of emergency, which, according to him, has not yielded the desired result in the North Eastern part of the country, where the terrorists use as their operational base.
He drew attention to the fact that the country was indeed contending with insurgents and well funded nihilist, who were determined to violently trample upon the secularity of the Nigerian state and destroy the country.
"There is no doubt that our nation is at war. The enemy has clearly and unequivocally served the nation notice of its vile intentions. Therefore, a clear, unambiguous and decisive military response from the Government, beyond the imposition of a state of emergency, is urgently required in this circumstance. This is an option we must consider now.
"It is obvious that we are dealing with insurgents and well funded nihilists who are determined to violently trample upon the secularity of the Nigerian State and destroy the country. A modern, vibrant, progressive, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Nigeria is an anathema to them. "Because they are fired by zealotry and extremism, they are not likely to be swayed by overtures of any kind. We must henceforth shift from fighting terrorism to fighting insurgency," Mark remarked.