ABUJA – Representatives of minority ethnic groups in the North-Eastern part of the country on Wednesday appealed to Nigerians to be cautious in their agitation for the release of the abducted Chibok girls.
The representatives made the appeal at a forum organised by the Minority Interest Rights Project (MIRP) on `the Chibok girls and the situation in the North’, in Abuja.
Mr Bala Takaya, a former Secretary to the State Government of the old Gongola State, on behalf of the group said that the welfare of victims of the conflict and the protection of the communities should be paramount to the government and other stakeholders.
Takaya said that the recent agitation to stampede government into forcing the release of the girls was not in anybody’s interest, adding that it was better to secure a safe release of the girls than to take actions that could endanger their lives.
“Human beings are being held as human shield, government has the power to crush Boko Haram where ever they are lodged.
“But with your tender children in their hand, even they themselves when they know you are coming to crush them they will first kill the children.
“Do you want dead children in your hands? Certainly it’s better that these children come, even if it takes 100 days, safe and alive than to have their dead bodies on our hands.
“So, urging government the way people have been doing is not doing any good neither to the children, nor the government itself.
“Government should be encouraged, yes! Government should be reminded, but people should not insist the girls must be brought out alive by force because we will never get them alive if government forces it,“ he said.
Takaya pointed out that the soldiers had done their best in the circumstances facing them, but said that the support and cooperation of members of the community were required to end the insurgency.
According to the former SSG, the soldiers cannot be everywhere at the same time as Boko Haram chooses its targets.
He said that Boko Haram was against all peace-loving Nigerians and called for a concerted campaign that would weaken the support base of the insurgents in the North-East zone of the country.
“Boko Haram is not the brand of Islam that most Muslims practice; Boko Haram is a war of political economy, it’s a war of certain desperados to take control and leadership of this place.
[eap_ad_1] “Muslims have condemned Boko Haram because they have seen that they are not actually practicing what Islam is supposed to be doing.
“And I think that gives us a breath of fresh air from which we can now trust that our own brother Muslims will be with us when we unfold the kind of plans that we have.
“Government has its own methods; what we want to do is for the government to also reckon with the fact that they are defending us and they need our support.
“They cannot defend us without our input; on the other hand we don’t want to go on self-help without relating with the government,“ he said.
Mr Ibrahim Audu, the representative of Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA), the umbrella body for all communities in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno, appealed for more support for the victims of the insurgency.
Audu, who expressed dissatisfaction with the rescue efforts so far, called for closer collaboration between the government and the community to secure the girls’ release and end the crisis.
“The feeling is that of total sadness, trauma and agony. You need to be told something so that you can live on the hope that something is being done.
“We are not asking the government to compromise the sensitive security issues, but at least let us know that something is being done, like somebody comforting another, who is in grief,“ he said.
Audu urged the government to use whatever appropriate means it would to secure the release of the girls.
The Coordinator, Minority Interest Rights Project (MIRP), Mr Mark Lipdo, said the forum was organised to give a voice to the marginalised segments of the society.
Lipdo said that some of the victims had been frustrated and angered by the unprovoked attacks and the minimal support they were receiving from the government.