Bring Back Our Girls isn't a security threat, says Soyinka
Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, has berated Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and the Muhammadu Buhari presidency for the treatment handed out to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners in the last couple of weeks.
The advocacy BBOG group has been campaigning for the rescue of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by terrorists from their school dormitory in 2014.
With recent video clips indicating that some of the abducted schoolgirls are still alive, the BBOG stepped up its processions in Abuja; hitting the streets every 72 hours.
This week, however, they were confronted with police tanks and a pro-Buhari group.
Idris issued a terse statement about the BBOG group, saying they had become a threat to public peace and order and that the police “will not sit on the fence and watch such a scenario unfold.”
Soyinka, who was addressing a symposium to commence the 20th anniversary programme of Halifield Schools, Maryland, Lagos, wondered why anyone would tag the BBOG group a security threat.
“I saw a report in a national daily that demonstrations on behalf of the Chibok girls pose a threat to national security and I thought, not again. My mind flew back immediately to another governor under whose democratic leadership, parents were tear-gassed for demonstrating peacefully about losing their children in a plane crash in Port Harcourt”, Soyinka said.
“Democracy is not just about campaigning. It is exercising human rights. It is about helping to build the society. Demonstrations cannot be too much as long as those girls are missing. Demonstrations are an act of solidarity. Wherever they are today, when their mothers demonstrate on their behalf, their morale is raised.
“That is my message to security operatives who get scared of those who are agitating for a cause and fire tear gas at them. They must be treated with utmost respect and must be given their space. It is an act of solidarity for the children. Otherwise, when you stop these demonstrations, you are saying forget about the children,’’ he said.
Soyinka also had a few words for the federal government.
“We have important things like reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, among others, to worry about. Yes, those things are important but ultimately, the society is for humanity and when one of us is hurt, we must allow ourselves to protest.
“I hope we don’t get the negative effects when they bring back our girls. And when we talk about democracy to our children, it is to teach them their rights. Therefore, there has to be greater coherence from the government and its agencies. We don’t have to know one single individual among the girls. We should demonstrate democratic responsibility. Let us continue to recognise solidarity with these girls and one day, they will come back or we will get to know what has become of them,” he said.