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Why govt can’t trade abducted girls with prisoners, by Falana

Lagos Lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has said the over 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State, should not be exchanged for the sect’s prisoners.

The exchange is among the demands of the sect’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a new video released yesterday to the public.

Falana said the abducted girls are not prisoners of war, adding that they were illegally abducted from their school.

The frontline lawyer addressed reporters yesterday in Abuja after a meeting with some protesting women.

He said arrangements were being made to enable parents identify the missing girls in the video.

The protest to rescue the girls will move to the home of Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima today for the governor’s answers on the abducted girls.

The campaign team is expected to meet at the Roman Catholic Church, Asokoro, at 3pm today and a procession will be led to the governor’s lodge by a former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Mr Falana and some women’s leaders.

The women said they would start a vigil, if the girls were not released before tomorrow, a month after their abduction in captive.

Falana said: “It is very disturbing that these criminals called Boko Haram members are demanding that these girls be exchanged for prisoners.

“This is terrible because our girls are not prisoners of war. They were illegally abducted and they are not Nigerian soldiers. So, there is no basis for the demand.

“On the video: what we have tried to do is to get the parents of these abducted girls to see if they can identify their daughters in the video. Arrangements are being made to do that.

“What is important is that the global pressure is paying off and that is why this cowardly organisation has come out to assure the world that the children are safe and that they have not killed them.”

The activist dismissed the need to obtain a police permit before any protest.

He assured the women of legal support in their demand to rescue the schoolgirls.

Falana said: “As far back as December 2007, we won that battle against colonial policy of asking for a police permit to protest in Nigeria and we cannot go back. So, I have come to assure the protesters that the law is behind them and on their side. But if anybody comes to disturb them, they should let me know so that we can take appropriate actions under the law. This is because their cause is just and they have been very peaceful in demanding that the criminals bring back our girls unconditionally.

“So, the pressure will have to be intensified so that the world can make a case. We can make an example of this situation so that we are not going to succumb to the intimidation of criminals. Those who have committed crimes against humanity have to be brought to book.”

So, it is illegal and immoral to use innocent children to bargain with the government of Nigeria.

“The protest has to go on all over the world and leaders have to join to protest so that these criminals can know that a violation of any child anywhere around the world is a violation of the right of the entire world. I am sure in a matter of days. These criminals will release these girls.”

AmarSim Associations Development Consultants

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