This Day (Lagos)

24 July 2014

Nigeria: Chibok - 'Rented' Crowd Fights Over Money

The allegation that a group of protesters demanding the return of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls are being sponsored may have been confirmed yesterday as some of its members after gathering in Abuja yesterday, engaged in a free-for-all over money they were promised for participating in the protest.

The group, all youths, clad in white T-shirts as against the red T-shirts of the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) protesters also gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to mark the 100 days of the abduction of the girls. The group, however, gathered before the 3p.m. schedule of the planned sit-out by the BBOG, with T-shirts and banners with the inscriptions "Boko Haram, Return Our Girls Now."

At the end of the meeting, THISDAY observed that some of them were fighting and struggling among themselves, complaining that someone had absconded with the money meant for them to share.

THISDAY also gathered that the group enjoyed a live coverage from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as the crew were observed packing their equipment and Mikano generator used for the live transmission.

The NTA crew however did not cover the BBOG group even though it already started proceedings to mark the 100 days.

It was also gathered that the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ms. Jumoke Akinjide, addressed the group in white shirts. This indicated government's backing, to draw attention away from the Dr. Oby Ezekwesili's group.

Meanwhile the BBOG group marking the 100 day of the abduction of the Chibok girls, lamented that no concrete result had been achieved. Assembled at a sit-out in Abuja, the protesters called for more concerted efforts to ensure the safe release of the girls from the hands of their abductors, the Boko Haram sect.

The former Vice-President of the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, while addressing journalists on the sidelines of the sit-out at the Unity Fountain, said the group did not expect that the girls would still be in captivity till now.

Speaking on the Tuesday meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the parents of the abducted girls, Ezekwesili said it was an important one.

"...From when it happened, we had expected that there should have been an outreach to the parents; that did not happen, but let bygones be bygones," she said. The former minister however noted that the outcome of the meeting would be measured by results, which would mean the safe rescue of the girls. Ezekwesili added that although terrorism was a global challenge, all countries collaborating on the rescue of the Chibok girls are looking to the Nigerian government to provide the needed leadership towards getting results.

She also insisted that the #BringBackOurGirls group which had sat out consistently for 86 days now, would not relent until the girls are rescued. "The protest is as effective as it can be. We do not control the apparatus that makes a country secure. We are the voice of the girls, in order to compel the appropriate actions to be taken. The end action is to compel the entity that holds the power to act, to act," she added.

Addressing the youths who had converged on Kolo Town, Ogbia to elect officers for Ogbia branch of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the Special Adviser to the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Youth Matters and Conflict Resolution, Mr. George Turnah, commended the youths for taking their destiny in their own hands by electing their leaders themselves and for the votes of confidence passed on Jonathan and Dickson.

Turnah, who charged the newly inaugurated Ijaw Youths' Congress (IYC) clan executives and parliamentarians to live above board, assured them of his moral and financial support at all times.

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