Nigerian authorities stepped up security around the presidential villa in Abuja Tuesday, after the BringBackOurGirls campaigners announced a fresh plan to meet President Goodluck Jonathan over the continued captivity of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April.
The campaigners are pushing for the rescue of the girls kidnapped from the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.
The group plans to march to the presidential villa “to engage” with Mr. Jonathan and persuade him to act and rescue the girls held hostage by the insurgent group for six months.
A statement by the group’s media coordinator, Rotimi Olawale, Monday, said the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family will march to Presidential Villa on Tuesday to discuss and hear directly from the president, the status of efforts being made towards rescuing the over 200 abducted girls.
Mr. Olawale said the group will also demand an urgent rescue of the girls.
He said the rally is in continuation of the group’s global week of action to mark the girls’ sixth month stay with their abductors.
“We, the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja family, wish to notify the members of the public that we have requested (for) an appointment, and will be marching to meet with our President on Tuesday October 14, 2014,” Mr. Olawale said.
Mr. Olawale enjoined members of the public concerned about the girl’s abduction to join the presidential march.
The group’s first attempt to meet with Mr. Jonathan May 22 was met with resistance from security operatives at the Eagle Square where they were prevented from proceeding into the presidential villa in Aso Rock.
However, the protesters were met by a presidential delegate led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim.
The delegation’s spokesperson, the Minister of State Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide, reading from a letter addressed to the protesters by President Goodluck Jonathan, said the Federal Government is appreciative and supportive of their efforts.
Mr. Jonathan told the crowd that terrorism is a global challenge, giving instances of attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Iran.
Tuesday’s march was scheduled to begin at Unity Fountain, located close to Transcorp Hilton Hotels, Maitama, and proceed to the State House through the Federal Secretariat.
But by 8.20 a.m., the government deployed a large team of armed officers at the two major gates leading to the Villa, apparently to forestall possible breakdown of order.
At the gate approaching from the Fire Service side of Asokoro, armed policemen and soldiers were stationed at the traffic light junction before the usual security checkpoint.
The same situation played out at the federal secretariat end of the entrance.
Armed police officers and soldiers from the Brigades of Guards were stationed at a spot between the Villa Gate and the access road that leads to the National Assembly.