A Nigerian women’s rights activist based in Germany, Ify Elueze, has collected more than 39, 612 signatures needed to petition the United Nations to seek action in securing the release of the abducted 190 pupils of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State.
Elueze, who is addressing the petition to the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said international organisations should help mount significant pressure on the Nigerian government to ensure the safe release of the schoolgirls.
She collected the signatures for the petition titled “Over 200 girls are missing in Nigeria – Please find them!” on change.org, a go-to site for web protests. Some international organisations, such as the Amnesty International and the Humane Society, have at one time or the other hosted their petitions on the same website.
Urging more people to sign the petition in order to fast-track its formal presentation, Elueze said, “The world must wake up to the Nigerian schoolgirls’ kidnap. The abducted young girls are affected by a conflict they did not create and their voices need to be heard.
“It can only be imagined what they have undergone in these past weeks or what they are being subjected to at hand. Please sign this petition so that these 234 girls would be found and returned to the safety of their families and homes.”
The petition has so far attracted reactions from Nigerians resident at home and in the Diaspora, as well as foreigners who have described the abduction as heartbreaking and unacceptable.
A Polish citizen, Dominika Rozenbajgier, who joined Nigerians and other foreign nationals in signing the petition, wished that the kidnapped school children could regain their freedom as soon as possible.
“I’m signing this petition because of freedom and equality. As far as you don’t hurt anybody, you have the right to make free choices. Out there, people are suffering. They should support each other in difficult situations. The colour of our skin, our nationality or religion doesn’t matter. I can’t do much, but I hope this can help anyhow and I hope the families will be reunited soon,” Rozenbajgier said.
An American citizen and resident of Wilmington, Delaware, Astare Gannon, said it is shameful that the Nigerian authorities have yet to rescue the schoolgirls.
“It’s a shame that the Nigerian government has not deployed all its armed forces in the search for these girls. Shame on the government for not bringing those responsible for the abduction to justice. I hope they are found alive after all this time. This is disgusting!” Gannon stated on the petition.
Expressing concern for the safety and welfare of the schoolgirls, a Canadian named Tracy Unazoi, who lives in North Bay, noted that it was unfortunate that after over 15 days the search for the pupils has not been successful.
“These are our daughters, sisters and friends. They have been missing for over two weeks and we haven’t seen any successful attempt to rescue them,” Unazoi wrote.
But the British Government has said that it is closely monitoring the situation, adding that the thoughts and sympathy of the English people are with the family of the abducted children.
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who described the abduction as “sickening” stated that he had been communicating with his Nigerian counterpart, Ambassador Aminu Wali, over the development.
Writing on his Twitter page on Wednesday, Hague stated that his government has offered to assist the Federal Government. He did not say what form the assistance will be.
“I am following the case of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls with growing concern, and sympathy for the families. The United Kingdom is offering support and assistance . The Nigerian abduction shows the huge toll of conflict on women and girls – including sexual violence and why it is time to act and stop these crimes,” Hague wrote on his Twitter page.
Meanwhile, many Nigerians have faulted Jonathan’s decision to shelve the weekly Federal Executive Council Meeting over the death of the immediate younger brother of the Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
According to critics, it amounted to double standard for the president not to have shelved the Kano political rally which held a day after when dozens of people died in the Nyanya bomb blast.
Political blogger, Japheth Omojuwa, wrote, “When Jonathan went hoping on the stage in Kano after Nyanya bomb blast, his minions told us ‘governance must go on.’ What happened to the FEC meeting today?
“Kano rally and Ibadan party couldn’t be shelved for the death of hundreds but the FEC meeting could be canceled over the death one privileged soul? More than anything else, Nigerians need a new leadership and that urgently!” (Punch)