The BringBackOurGirls Group on Thursday alleged that security agencies, who described them as a “franchise”, planned to set them up.
They said the “plot” might be the climax of incessant harassment and intimidation of the group in the last two months.
The BBOG group, however, said in spite of threats from security agencies, they would not give up the agitation for the rescue of the 219 Chibok girls, who were snatched off their dormitory on April 15 by Boko Haram insurgents.
The group, in a statement in Abuja by two of its coordinators, former World Bank Vice President (Africa) Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman, asked the military and security agencies to take action against terrorists who have abducted the girls instead of hounding its members.
The statement said: “For over two months, security agencies have harassed and sought to intimidate our movement incessantly. The latest was the statement yesterday accredited to the Deputy Director of Department of State Security, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, who described the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as a franchise.
“She made the comment in Abuja while responding to questions from journalists at the press briefing of the National Information Centre (NIC).
“This is a dangerous and unprecedented attack because as is well known in security circles, the term ‘franchise’ is used to refer to inter-related terrorist cells. She is reported to have said that if indeed our movement was a protest group, it would not need to force members to register and wear tags.
“Mrs. Ogar also affirmed ‘security forces know about all the activities of the group. We know that they have a bank account’,” the statement quoted the DSS spokeswoman as saying.
The statement quoted her further “We know that they visit prominent individuals to solicit funds; we know that they have split themselves into groups; we know that they want to simulate a protest march in Abuja to make it look like they went to Chibok”.
However, the protesters maintained that “There is a clear attempt to smear our work with a link of our work with Chibok and Sambisa forest. It is clear from these comments that the security agencies are setting up the movement for a crackdown based on trumped up accusations.
“Our activities are open and our meetings are in a public space, the Unity Fountain. There is no compulsion to membership and our symbols, such as the red t-shirts, fez caps and pins are donated voluntarily by members.
“We are motivated by empathy and the need to search and rescue these girls. We are shocked that all we get from our security agencies is harassment, vilification, innuendoes and threats. This must stop.
“Security agencies have the responsibility to protect rather than intimidate citizens trying to do a good turn.
“It will be recalled that on 8th May, the Director of Defence Information of the Defence Headquarters had alleged that we distorted the report of what was for us constructive engagement with them two days previously. He claimed that we were trying to pitch public opinion against the armed forces and to project the Nigerian military in bad light and further heat up the polity”, the group said.