8 May 2014

Liberia: Ensure Return of Schoolgirls to Parents


When The Director designate of the presidential elite security guard, the Executive Protection Service (EPS) Frank Nyekan revealed in early March this year that Liberia is being used as a hideout for leaders of the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, most people disputed the information, arguing that it wasn't possible for some leaders of the notorious group to visit here.

Although There's No evidence to prove his assertion, however, speaking before a senate hearing on March 4, 2014, Mr. Nyekan said "terrorism is spreading now. Nobody needs to tell you that Boko Haram is next door in Nigeria. Some are using Liberia as a sleep-out where they come and sleep after doing their thing. They come as Nigerian businessmen to sleep after a period of time; they lost and returned to Nigeria. They commit the act, when they are being searched for, they run to Liberia. From Liberia to Nigeria is not far. You have to look at it critically because election is coming; you need protection here and at home. There is a need for some kind of legislation that will protect Legislators."

Nyekan's Statement Didn't ring a bell presumably because there hasn't been any incident as yet to warrant attention. While his comment may sound ambiguous [considering Liberia from geopolitical, cultural and religious contest], it still does not negate the reality that the visits of the Boko Haram leaders could be that Liberia may not only be a hide-out for them, but also our country could be used as a strategic ground to plan evil in Nigeria or elsewhere.

Our Concern About Boko Haram is being prompted by media reports that the group has adopted over 200 girls from a boarding school. This development has attracted international attention with the United States and Britain offering assistance in the process.

Parents of these children have been stunned and remained silent about the fate of their daughters, suggesting that the government is doing little or nothing about the situation. These girls were kidnapped more than three weeks ago by Islamist Boko Haram militants from their boarding school in the north-eastern state of Borno. Last Sunday, additional eight other girls were taken after two villages were attacked.

What's Happening In Nigeria might be far from us in Liberia; however, we believe this issue should draw the attention of our government and ECOWAS nations to develop an international approach that would lead to the freedom of the innocent children.

Obviously, We Believe military approach [to this crisis for now] is not the appropriate thing to do because the terrorists are not frightened by military hardware. This matter is bigger than Nigeria and it requires a well coordinated global involvement of nations including the United States, Britain, France and other countries that have had experiences in dealing with matter of such magnitude.

In Africa, Most nations do not have the counter terrorism approach neither do they have the intelligence capabilities to handle such an extremely precarious situation that could end up in futility; we hope not.

For Us, We urge the Nigerian government and nations partnering with it to explore every available means to have the over 200 children, whose future are ahead of them, returned to their parents. This must be the mission.

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