“We are also mourning the 173 lives that were lost, they were our colleagues.”
Teachers in Abuja on Thursday joined their counterparts nationwide and stayed off work to protest the kidnap of over 250 female students in Borno State.
The Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, had on Wednesday asked all its members to stay off work and to hold rallies in all the 36 states and Abuja to demand the release of the girls.
The Abuja teachers held their rally at the Education Resource Center in Abuja.
They marched from there to the NAFDAC office in Zone 7, Wuse and then back to the centre.
“We demand immediate release of our Girls,” placards carried by the teachers read.
As they marched they chorused, “All we are saying, bring back our girls alive. Now!”
Speaking at the protest venue, the chairman of the union in Abuja, Hassan Jibiri, said the objective of the protest is to bring back the girls safe and alive.
“Unfortunately everybody feels the pain and we want to demonstrate to the world that we are also in line with every international approach to see that these children are being rescued, not just rescued but safe and alive,” Mr. Jibiri said.
The union leader also called for compensation for families of the 173 teachers so far killed in the Boko Haram insurgency.
“We are also mourning the 173 lives that were lost, they were our colleagues. They have families at various homes; they were bread winners of homes.
“So at this point and we are calling on the government to make adequate compensation for the families of the lost ones,” Mr. Jibiri said.
One of the protesting teachers, Pricillia Udewaze, told PREMIUM TIMES that her hearts bleeds for the kidnapped of the girls.
“As you see me my heart is bleeding, I have been crying since I heard about the kidnap,” Mrs. Udewaze, a teacher at the Government Primary School, Gwarinpa, Abuja, said.
“All the teachers have gathered today to demand for the release of those girls from the hands of the insurgents, from the hands of Boko Haram.
“I don’t know their sponsors, I don’t know their names, but we are pleading with them to immediately release the kidnapped girls. We are begging them in the name of Jesus Christ; wherever they have kept these girls, please Boko Haram release them.
“It is a mother that gave birth to you please release those girls immediately,” Mrs. Udewaze said.
The assistant secretary of the NUT in Abuja, Margret Detru, also told PREMIUM TIMES that the protest was to let the world know that the kidnapped girls are meant to be in schools and not in the forest.
“The protest is all about the kidnap of the girls for over a month now, we want them released and that is why we have come to tell the world that the girls are meant to be in schools and not the forest,” Mrs. Detru said. “Also, we are not happy about the teachers that were killed; we also demand that the families be compensated.”
She also gave reasons why it took the union over a month since the girls were kidnapped to embark on a protest.
“Everything in Nigeria has been politicized, so we were not really sure of what was happening. But now that we are convinced, that is why we have joined our voices with people all over the world that our girls should be released,” she said.
The over 250 girls were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14.