Renowned lawyers, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) and Femi Falana (SAN) on Thursday called for caution on the part of the government in its attempt to rescue the abducted schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State, who are being held captive by Boko Haram sect.
The Senior Advocates of Nigeria, who were reacting to the Democracy Day broadcast of President Goodluck Jonathan, counseled him against the use of force on Boko Haram while the girls are still in their custody.
However, Prof. Sagay noted that President Jonathan’s speech on Democracy Day has rekindled Nigerians hope in the fight against terrorism and the decision to rescue the abducted schoolgirls.
The President in his speech said, “It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok. I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians and I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home.
“I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism. The unity and stability of our country and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable. I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil”.
But Sagay, argued that it would be counter-productive to talk about the use of force in crushing the insurgency when the abducted girls are still being held by the terrorists.
According to him, the use of force may put the girls in harm’s way.
“I am happy the President has finally made up his mind that he is going to deal with the matter with vigour. I am only worried about the girls because there are some contradictions about the use of force and securing the safety of the girls. If the girls had been secured and had been released and he is talking about the use of force, then I will support him 100 percent.
“But with the girls still in captivity, their lives will be put on the line and this is the only reservation that I have and I want to assume that the President is aware of this fact”, he stated.
This line of argument was supported by Falana, who said: “Boko Haram militants are using the girls as shield, so we are likely to lose those girls if maximum force is employed.
“It will be dangerous to pounce on them and the essence of the rescue operations will be defeated if those girls are wasted. That is why all efforts must be made to have those girls rescued alive”.