By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja – The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, called on the Federal Government to redouble its efforts toward securing the release of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.
The lawmakers also urged the government to do everything within its power to free Leah Sharibu and others from their abductors.
This followed a motion under matters of urgent public importance by Rep. Asabe Vilita-Bashir (APC-Borno) at a plenary presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Yusuff Lasun, at National Assembly, Abuja.
No fewer than 276 of the students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, were abducted by Boko Haram group on April 14, 2014. Out of the number, 57 of the girls escaped before the insurgents could transport them to their base in Sambisa Forest, four others escaped after two years while a total of 103 were released after an agreement with the government.
Moving the motion, Vilita-Bashir, who represents Chibok/Gwoza/Damboa Federal Constituency, said it is disheartening that after five years of abduction about 112 of the girls were still in the custody of the terrorists.
‘‘The house notes that the April 14 marked the 5th anniversary of the kidnapping of 219 Chibok girls by Boko Haram insurgents.
‘‘The house further notes that over 100 Dapchi schoolgirls were also abducted by the same insurgents.
‘‘The house is concerned that in spite of the local and international cries, 112 of the Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu and Alice Ngaddah are still in captivity,’’ she said.
The lawmaker, who commended the federal government for its efforts so far, said there was the need to do more toward ensuring freedom for all the abductees.
Contributing, Rep. Diri Douye (PDP-Bayelsa), said it is unfortunate that the country is still being faced with the challenge of securing the release of the remaining girls five years after.
‘‘It is heart-bleeding for us to still be talking about the release of our sisters who have been in captivity for five years. This same thing goes for Leah Sharibu.
‘‘If efforts have been intensified, I know today, we would not be raising this motion. This is a wake up call on the federal government and all of us,’’ he said.
Rep. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, (PDP-Abia), said it is sad that some of the parents died while waiting for their daughters’ return.
The lawmaker, who commended the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, said the country has failed in its responsibility of securing the lives of its citizens.
‘‘Around the world, this has been the conversation, even in the U.S.,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Rep. Ken Chikere, who commended the federal government for its effort so far, noted that government still deserved some praises so that it could do more.
Rep. Sergius Ogun, (PDP-Edo), said there is the need for the federal government to tell the abducted girls’ parents and the nation on the current status of the girls.
On his part, Rep. Toby Okechukwu, (PDP-Enugu), who said it is unimaginable the way the girls were kidnapped by the terrorists, queried why it has taken such a long time to secure their release.
‘‘Until we begin to be accountable, we may not be able to find solutions to our problems.
‘‘People in government should begin to exercise their functions with some level of responsibility,’’ he said.
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Lasun, said it is painful that after the Chibok girls’ abduction, ‘‘we still have another set of girls being captured by the insurgents.
‘‘It is painful because in my area, my people say it is better for a child to be announced dead than to be declared missing.
‘‘We just need to improve on our security architecture,’’ he said.
Lasun, however, remarked that ‘‘with the knowledge or fact that some of the girls might have died in the hands of their abductors, coupled with some of the security personnel who might have lost their lives in the course of rescuing the girls,’’ he urged the house to rise up for a minute’s silence.(NAN)