The peaceful protests by #BringBackOurGirls group, who are currently staging a sit-out at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, turned ugly yesterday as thugs invaded their gathering, damaging the chairs used in their daily meetings.
Leaders of the largely female group, who alleged they were attacked with bottles under the watchful eyes of the police, said they had notified the police authorities about the aggressive tendencies of the #ReleaseOurGirls campaigners, who had taken over their sit-out spot a day before at the fountain.
The #BringBackOurGirls protesters have been sitting-out at the fountain for about a month now with the purpose of increasing pressure on the Federal Government to redouble its efforts towards the safe rescue of over 100 school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram gunmen in Chibok, Borno state 45 day ago.
According to the leader of the #BringBackOurGirls protests in Abuja, former World Bank Vice President (Africa), Oby Ezekwesili, policemen looked on as the attack took place.
The thugs, a rival group believed to be sponsored by Federal Government sympathisers, sprung up last Monday with the argument that government should not be blamed for the abduction of the school girls, advising the protesters to instead direct their anger at the Boko Haram insurgents.
On Tuesday, the new group took over the spot used by the #BringBackOurGirls protesters and attempted to chase them away.
“They came and they beat the women. They used the chairs, broke the chairs. They broke bottles. They did all kinds of things over the heads of very, very civil women and men”, Mrs. Ezekwesili said.
She confronted a police officer, Hussaini Dodo and said: “Tell your CP (Commissioner of Police) that I have a message for him. Nigeria will not always be like this. People have to be careful what they do with the citizens of this country. We sent a letter today, acknowledged, telling you that there was rising trend of aggression towards us. And yet, you deployed police to guard the rented crowd. And the police stood. They watched it (the attack) happened.”
Coordinator of the protest Hadiza Bala Usman said “I spoke to him (CP) on the telephone. I told the CP at 12 noon that this is happening. I am submitting a letter at 1:00pm that they were attacking us, there is aggression, and there is confrontation. They watched it happened”.
But the protesters have vowed not to succumb to the latest intimidation and threats against them until the Chibok girls were found.
“Let the FG & associates know that we the women, men, youths & children of #AbujaFamily of #BringBackOurGirls are resolute to keep standing”, Ezekwesili tweeted.
It was learnt that throughout their representation to the policeman, members of the rival group, who destroyed the chairs were chanting pro-government slogans and dancing around.
According to reports by Daily Trust, the #ReleaseOurGirls campaigners were all over the fountain with mobile electronic billboards and a balloon campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo.