9 May 2014

Africa: #bringbackourgirls Abuja Protest Ground Sealed

BringBackOurGirls campaigners putting pressure on authorities to step up effort to rescue the over 200 girls kidnapped from Government Secondary School Chibok were yesterday locked out of Maitama Amusement Park in Abuja where they had wanted to stage their sit-in protest for the day.

The protesters then decided to hold the sit-in on the pavement in front of the park where they arranged plastic chairs for sitting.

They had been holding the sit-in at the Unity Fountain near Transcorp Hilton Hotel, but decided to change the venue to the Maitama park because of the World Economic Forum being hosted in Abuja.

"We came here to conduct our usual meeting at the Maitama Amusement Park. But when we got here, we discovered that the gate closed with a padlock. We don't know who closed it or why it was closed," coordinator of the group Hadiza Bala Usman said.

"But we know that a part of this park is a public park. We as citizens have the right to access it. A part of it is concessioned, but there is a part that we can use.

"We decided to hold our sit-in outside the gate and just conduct our activities as usual. We've done that. We have finished and tomorrow we shall convene here."

Former World bank Vice president for Africa, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, said the group will engage Borno State government over allegation that it has not been cooperating with the Federal Government in the rescue efforts.

"We have had engagement with the National Security Adviser as a team. We have had engagement with the Chief of Defense Staff and what we keep hearing is the lack of cooperation between the Borno State and the Federal Government led-effort," she said.

"For us as citizens we really don't want our leaders to telling us that because that's not an excuse. What we want is the kind of collaboration that delivers our girls.

"So, we just want to make it very clear that whatever it takes for our leaders to understand that petty quarrels will not serve the purpose of this nation. What the citizens are expecting our leaders to do at the Federal level, at the state level and at the local level is to define a common enemy. The common enemy is anyone who terrorises any one of us in our country," she added.

When contacted the spokesperson for the FCT police command, DSP Altine Daniel, said because of a Federal Government directive over the ongoing World Economic Forum, Many roads and areas in Abuja were barricaded to ensure security during the event.


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