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Organisers of ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Campaigners have lamented over what it termed ‘harassment and intimidation’ by Nigeria’s security agencies.
The group demanding the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls led by Obiageli Ezekwesili condemns the statement credited to the Deputy Director of Department of State Security, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar who described the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as a franchise.
Ogar made the comment in Abuja while responding to questions from journalists at the press briefing of the National Information Centre (NIC). This is a dangerous and unprecedented attack because as is well known in security circles, the term “franchise” is used to refer to inter-related terrorist cells.
In a statement tuesday which reads in parts” Our activities are open and our meetings are in a public space, the Unity Fountain. There is no compulsion to membership and our symbols such as the red t-shirts, face caps and pins are donated voluntarily be members. We are motivated by empathy and the need to search and rescue these girls. We are shocked that all we get from our security agencies is harassment, vilification, innuendoes and threats. This must stop. Security agencies have the responsibility to protect rather than intimidate citizens trying to do a good turn.”
Mrs. Ogar had also affirmed “security forces know about all the activities of the group. We know that they have a bank account,” she said. “We know that they visit prominent individuals to solicit funds; we know that they have split themselves into groups; we know that they want to simulate a protest march in Abuja to make it look like they went to Chibok.”
A joint statement by Obiageli Ezekwesili and Hadiza Mohammed, it says t there are clear attempt to “smear our work with a link our work with Chibok and Sambisa forest. It is clear from these comments that the security agencies are setting up the movement for a crackdown based on trumped up accusations.”
The group also recalls that on 8th May, the Director of Defence Information of the Defence Headquarters had alleged that we distorted the report of what was for us constructive engagement with them two days previously. He claimed that we were trying to pitch public opinion against the armed forces and to project the Nigerian military in bad light and further heat-up the polity.
The group maintains that it’s objectives were and remain to engage constituted authority in Nigeria and our security agencies as allowed by our Constitution. We are simply engaged in civic action that is constructively seeking pathways towards achieving what we consider to be the collective objective of bringing back our girls.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we have always been and remain a single-issue coalition without any political, religious, ethnic or regional dimensions to our struggle. We are conscious of our rights and responsibilities as citizens and we are exercising them to remind government of their own responsibilities to provide security to citizens and rescue those in distress. We cannot be stopped from exercising our citizenship rights through intimidation. ” The statement concluded.