The wall of missing girls around the Falomo Roundabout under the Falomo Bridge in Lagos had become significant in the crusade for the search for our missing girls. On May 8th at the roundabout, Women For Peace and Justice Bring Back our Girls Lagos after obtaining the required permission, had carefully placed placards with the profiles and names of 176 Chibok girls that had been verified by CAN (Christian Associations in Nigeria). The placards were evidence that 200+ girls were missing and were a symbol of our commitment to bring back our girls, the shared pain of the Chibok parents and the love of our nation.
Yesterday afternoon on returning from our weekly speak out Saturday, we found that our wall of missing girls was gone without a trace. On inquiring about the whereabouts of the placards, we learnt that the police around 3 am Saturday morning removed the placards. No one could tell us why and no one could tell us how and clearly no one had done anything to prevent it. As the very little known facts were presented to us, a chilling reality emerged In a cruel way, the Chibok girls’ night of horror exactly 2 months ago on 14 April had repeated itself in Lagos in a less violent yet equally shocking way. The 200+ girls had again been abducted. The nightmare was repeating itself.
We are still trying to make sense of it. What is the symbolism of this cowardly act executed in the middle of the night? Could anyone deliberately want the girls to disappear and be erased from our memories forever? Who could possibly be threatened by 176 wooden placards at a roundabout in Lagos?
When we mounted the placards several weeks ago, Lagosians from all walks of life had joined in the rally with allies from the international community including the United Nations charging the way. The busy round-about with the girls’ profiles had served as a daily reminder for all of us not to accept these acts as a way of life in Nigeria and demand that the girls be brought back safe and alive.
We should all be proud of our ability to unite to bringbackourgirls. The rallies and events should be seen as vibrant signs of a society that cares and an African democracy that allows freedom of speech. Abducting girls – whether they be living human beings or represented by wooden placards – in the middle of the night are both heinous acts but for different reasons. One directly violates the young girls from Chibok while the other violates our right to express ourselves. We remain more dedicated than ever to the efforts to #BringBackOurGirls and bring back the right for Nigerian citizens to express themselves freely as could be expected in a democratic society.
We are not going away and nor will our right to speak out and continue to do so till the girls are back – safe and alive!
Women for Peace and Justice, Lagos