Women in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, organizing as “Women for Peace and Justice”, are staging a peaceful protest to press the government to act swiftly to release the remaining 230 female students kidnapped from their hostel in a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.
About 243 girls, students of the Government Secondary School, GGSC, were abducted by members of the extremist Boko Haram sect on April 14. Forty-three of the girls escaped captivity and were reunited with their families. But the bulk of the students are still held by their abductors without much of a showing of tact to free the schoolgirls by the government.
The protest today is expected to push the government into showing more concern and acting seriously to free the schoolgirls.
Premium Times’ reporters are in Abuja and joining the protest and will bring you live updates as it proceeds.
The protest is largely expected to be peaceful. But recently, protests against the government in Abuja have been met with security highhandedness since the former Rivers State police commissioner, Joseph Mbu, took leadership of the Abuja police command.
Abuja is also home to special government security forces.
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The lady in purple is Sarah Ishaya. She is from Chibok. She has three sisters, ages 15 to 18, among the abducted schoolgirls. She’s traumatized and could not say a word.
— EiE Nigeria (@EiENigeria) April 30, 2014
Asa, Nigeria’s famous singer lends her voice to the protest.
— Asa(asha) (@Asa_official) April 30, 2014
— Chinenye Ugonna (@cHiNNnY) April 30, 2014
15.32The protesters have left the Unity Fountain start off venue and heading towards the Eagle Square where they are expected to turn into the National Assembly. The protest is gathering crowd as it proceeds. The protesters are closely monitored by security agents, including the Police Commissioner of Abuja Police Command, Joseph Mbu.
15.42So far, the protest is proceeding peacefully. Some parts of the trail, from the Transcorp Hilton hotel area, close to the starting point is blocked. And the sky is dark, and heavy. It may rain soon.
15.44It is raining heavily now but most of the protesters seem not deterred and marching in the rain. The Security officials are not deterred too. Protesters are now approaching the National Assembly area.
16.18The protesters, having defied the rain, are now leaving the National Assembly for the presidential villa, Aso Rock. Former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili and a senior lawyer, Femi Falana is among the protesters. The police have so far been non violent and are leading the way.
16.24"All we are saying, give us our girls... all we are saying, give us our girls..." the protesters chant as they head for the Presidential Villa.
16.28Oby Ezekwesili: All we are saying... Crowd: Give us our girls... Oby Ezekwesili: When? Crowd: NOW! The crowd chants louder as they march towards the villa.
16.32The protesters have changed their course and are returning to the start point. It is not clear why they are not going to Aso Rock anymore. We will find out why.
16.37Femi Falana, a senior Nigerian lawyer and member of the ongoing National Conference told Premium Times he joined the protest because he is "human" and a "father."
16.40The rain has let up. The the protest continues as the protesters, now all drenched, make their way back to Unity Fountain.
16.51Femi Falana addressing the protesters as they return to the Unity Fountain. His speech is followed by a series of others.
17.12The protest is coming to an end. Protesters are beginning to disperse with a promise of returning the following day of the schoolgirls are not rescued.
17.41Oby Ezekwesili thanked everyone that participated. She said the protest will continue if in 24 hours the girls are not rescued yet.