#BringBackOurGirls decries attacks by DSS spokesperson, security agencies

Nigerian women protest

Nigerian women protest abduction of Chibok schoolgirls in Abuja

Bring back our girls protest-42

The #BringBackOurGirls movement which has been campaigning for a more urgent action on the part of government to rescue over 200 girls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno State over two months ago has decried incessant harassment by Nigeria security agencies.

In a press release issued on Thursday 10 July and signed by Dr Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman, two prominent members of the group, the Abuja arm of the movement noted that for over two months, security agencies have harassed and sought to intimidate the movement incessantly.

It noted that the latest of such intimidation was the statement yesterday credited to the Deputy Director of Department of State Security, Marilyn Ogar who described the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as a franchise.

She made the comment in Abuja while responding to questions from journalists at the press briefing of the National Information Centre (NIC).

Nigerian women protest abduction of Chibok schoolgirls in Abuja
Nigerian women protest abduction of Chibok schoolgirls in Abuja

The BringBackOurGirls movement described the statement as “dangerous and unprecedented attack because as is well known in security circles, the term ‘franchise’ is used to refer to inter-related terrorist cells.”

She is reported to have said that if indeed the movement “was a protest group it would not need to force members to register and wear tags.”

Ogar also affirmed that “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.”

The statement said: “It is clear from these comments that the security agencies are setting up the movement for a crackdown based on trumped up accusations. 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.

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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.

“It will be recalled 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.

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“The release further claimed that we were trying to drag the military into politics. The statement by Mrs. Ogar yesterday was escalating this accusation to a higher level.

“We wish to state unequivocally that our 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.

Oby Ezekwezili addresses #BringBackOurGirls protesters
Oby Ezekwezili addresses #BringBackOurGirls protesters

“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. Far from seeking to undermine the efforts of the security agencies, we seek to enhance it and make it more robust and effective. Our concerns about the lack of results so, 86 days after these girls have been abducted, are aimed at motivating the security agencies to more effective action.

“Finally, rather than see our civic action calling on the government and its security agencies to do their work as enemy action, we urge them to take action against the real enemies who are the terrorists who have abducted and kept in captivity for almost three months over two hundred innocent Nigerian girls,” the movement said.