• House wants more efforts deployed towards Girls’ Search
Omololu Ogunmade and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate on Thursday lamented over the two years of the Chibok girls being held in captivity by terrorists and consequently summoned service chiefs and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, to explain to it the efforts they have so far made to rescue the girls.
Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the abduction of 276 girls writing their Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
However, 57 of the girls escaped, leaving 219 of them in Boko Haram’s custody.
Also, the House of Representatives called on the federal government to intensify efforts towards the search for the 219 abducted Chibok school girls.
The Senate in a statement to commemorate unfortunate incident, commended the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group for what they described as its doggedness and consistency in the campaign for the release of the girls.
The upper chamber, which said it empathised with parents of the girls, also charged security agencies to do everything humanly possible to ensure the girls are rescued. It equally just as it urged the Borno State Government to rebuild Chibok Secondary School in the interest of students in the community.
Moving a motion on the prolonged hostage of the girls, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), said the Senate was saddened by continued captivity of the girls 730 days after their abduction.
He said whereas hope was raised on October 17, 2014 that the girls would be rescued following an announcement by the Nigerian Army of a truce between the insurgents and government agents, the hope was dashed as nothing came out of it.
Melaye regretted that beyond the videos released by the terrorists, none of the girls had been seen since April 14, adding that their families had continuously been traumatised by their long absence.
Noting that the abduction had taken toll on Chibok community, he observed that 18 of the girls’ parents and four members of BBOG group had died since the abduction.
Melaye, who further said the incident had had a negative effect on “us as a people,”added that the situation had attracted international condemnation and outrage as a result of government’s slow reaction to the menace.
He also said it was disheartening to note that the girls were still at the mercy of their cruel abductors as he lamented the psychological trauma the parents go through everyday.
He also lamented that the dreams and aspirations of the girls have been turned into nightmares as he insisted that the only option available to security agencies is the rescue of the girls.
In her reaction, Senator Abiodun Olujimi (Ekiti South), said the federal government had failed the nation as she recalled how President Muhammadu Buhari promised to rescue the girls three months after capturing power.
According to her, two years is a long period for women in view of several changes they naturally experience, describing the situation as painful.
She challenged the federal government to rescue the girls immediately and present them to the nation within few months.
In his submission, Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), said he had useful information on the whereabouts of the girls.
Submitting that anytime the federal government is ready, it should call on him for his help. Senates Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, took him on, saying he did not need to be called upon before he could be helpful in a matter like this.
Akpabio also castigated members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) whom he said only exploited the plights of the girls to win elections in 2015 and thereafter do nothing. He did not mince words to describe Melaye as one of such politicians.
Meanwhile, the House had been announced the constitution of a delegation to meet with the parents of the girls.
Principal officers of the House put on red Bring Back Our Girls BBOG-branded caps while members put on red chest emblems.
The lawmakers observed a minute of silence in memory of the girls who had been killed and the parents who had died due to the trauma of their missing children.
Hon. Asabe Vilita from whose constituency the girls were abducted, lamented that despite the efforts of search and rescue, the girls are yet to be found and released.
“Two years is too long a period for them to remain in the custody of terrorists, considering the risks of untold hardship, slavery, molestation, abuse, rape, pregnancy and forced marriage in the hands of their abductors, “she said.
Vilita however commended the efforts of the military in persecuting the fight against Boko Haram.
She urged the government to assist the parents of the abducted girls who have not been able to engage in any sustainable venture but to search for their children.
The Deputy Minority Whip, Hon. Binta Bello, said the 730 days of the abduction of the girls have been days of pain and agony.
Bello called on the government to deploy all available technology towards the search for the girls, adding that even if they were dead, the parents need to know.
“While the government is doing what it can, we want it to do more. I shed tears while watching the clip on CNN, as a mother, then I imagined what their parents must be going through,” she said.
Hon Tahir Monguno (Borno APC) disclosed that intelligence available showed that the girls were not kept in one place, but have been dispersed in different places.
Hon. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu PDP) in his contribution said the abduction offends all sensibilities.
“It speaks to the haram that Boko Haram is. That activity, that abduction offends Islam, it offends Nigerians and our laws,” he said.
Okechukwu called on the government to remain focused in its determination to find the girls.
The Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, commended the BBOG group whose unrelenting efforts have kept the issue on the front burner.
“The time has come for us to insist as an institution of government, ….a sense of urgency of this tragic incident which has been described as a national shame to this country. We must insist that targets are set to ensure we work towards returning these girls to the warm embrace of their parents,” Dogara said.