ABUJA, NIGERIA (APRIL 14, 2016) (REUTERS) – Protesters marched towards Nigeria’s presidential Villa in the capital Abuja on Thursday (April 14) to put pressure on the government and shame the international community into doing more to rescue dozens of teenage girls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014.
The message was clearly displayed by a young girl leading the #BringBackOurGirls movement march who walked ahead of a banner reading ‘Would you be silent if your daughter went missing for 2 years?”.
The group’s coordinator Aisha Yesufu said the international community achieved nothing after pledging to support Nigerian authorities to find the Chibok children. At the time, the mass kidnapping hit all the international headlines and led the US President’s wife, Michelle Obama, to tweet a picture of herself holding a piece of paper with #BringBackOurGirls on it.
“Our world press conference is to remind the leaders of the free world that our Chibok girls are still not back and their attention is needed here in Nigeria to support our government with all the military and intelligence capabilities that can help achieve success. We want to specifically ask leaders of countries like the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, Israel and China which had indicated support earlier on in 2014 without achieving any real results, to please return fully to help with the rescue operation,” Yesufu said.
Yesufu also piled the pressure on the government.
President Muhammadu Buhari was elected a year ago on a promise to crush Boko Haram and said in December the government could talk to jihadists to return the girls if credible representatives emerged. But no update has been given since then and the kidnapped girls make much less headlines in Nigeria than before.
“The symbolism of our march to the gates of the State House, the seat of power of Nigeria is to reiterate that the rescue of our Chibok girls, other victims of terrorism, resolving the humanitarian crisis in the north east of our country, tackling the grossly worrying problems of our herders attack on citizens as symbolized in Agatu, disclosing all military misdemeanours against civilians in their communities across the country, tackling the problem of endangered education of millions of children in internally displaced persons camps nationwide, are the primary duties of governments led by the federal authorities in Nigeria,” Yesufu said.
Now a new video of the girls has emerged, believed to have been filmed last December and showing 15 of the 219 kidnapped girls. The activists are urging the government to use the video for clues to find the girls.
In the video, taken in December and given to government officials by Boko Haram as proof of life for the negotiations, a person asks the 15 girls to say their names as they stand quietly in two rows, wearing head scarves.
She marched with the group towards the presidential villa where they were blocked by police and held a minute’s silence for the girls.