Abuja — Scores of Nigerian women, and a few men, defied the heavy Abuja rain Wednesday to protest and demand the release of over 200 girls kidnapped on April 14 by insurgents believed to be members of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
The girls were kidnapped from the their hostel at the Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State.
The protest began at about 3:15 p.m. at the Unity Fountain in the Abuja city centre, with many of the women wearing red to demonstrate anger and outrage at the abduction of the girls.
The women, including some mothers from the troubled Chibok community, carried banners and placards demanding that the Nigerian government do more to free the girls.
Some men, including human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, also joined the female protesters.
One of the Chibok women in obvious anguish, cried uncontrollably, demanding the whereabouts of her daughter.
A former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili, one of the most known figures at the protest, announced the demands of the protesters.
"We are here to protest for the release of our girls that were abducted by Boko Haram, we are calling on the relevant authorities to act now and bring back our girls.
"We shall march from here to the National Assembly were we will deliver our letters of call to action to the Senate Present and the Speaker of the House of Representatives," the former minister said.
The protesters did make good their threat in the presence of security operatives including the Abuja police commissioner, Joseph Mbu, who is reputed for violently aborting peaceful protests in the nation's capital.
Before the protesters reached the National Assembly, the rains began to pour heavily. But the women were not deterred. They trudged on, ignoring the rain, and determined to see their mission to the end.
At the National Assembly, the Senate President, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, were on hand to receive the protesters.
The senate president addressed the women, promising that the National Assembly would do all it can to see that the girls are rescued.
"We have been in several meetings and consultations among ourselves here at the National Assembly and the relevant security operatives about this issue and surely we are not going to relent in making sure the menace of Boko Haram become a thing of the past in this country," Mr. Mark said.
He assured the women that both the National Assembly and the Executive are working tirelessly to see that the missing schoolgirls return to their parents.
The lawmakers also defied the rain to address the protesters, commending them for the peaceful conduct of the rally.
After the speech by the senate president, the women walked back to the unity fountain to address journalists.
Ms. Ezekwesili, in tears said the protest would continue untill the girls are rescued.
At least 230 girls are still believed to be with the Boko Haram after about 273 were kidnapped on April 14. Forty-three others have been reunited with their parents with many of those escaping from their abductors.