Stopping BBOG protests means the girls should be forgotten – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday, said that attempts by security agencies to stop #BringBackOurGirls campaigners from protesting implies that the girls should be forgotten.

He noted that demonstrations are an act of solidarity and a morale booster.

Soyinka said this at a symposium to mark the 20th anniversary programme of Halifield Schools, Maryland, Lagos.

Soyinka who delivered the keynote address, added that peaceful demonstrations was a democratic right which could not constitute threats to national security and public order.

The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had on Wednesday, said that he had enough of the protests by BBOG which he said constituted a security threat to public peace and order.

He stated that the police “will not sit on the fence and watch such a scenario unfold.”

But Soyinka, in his reaction, said demonstrations cannot be too much as long as the girls are missing.

‘‘I saw a report in a national daily that demonstrations on behalf of the Chibok girls pose a threat to national security and I thought, not again. My mind flew back immediately to another governor under whose democratic leadership, parents were tear-gassed for demonstrating peacefully about losing their children in a plane crash in Port Harcourt.

“Democracy is not just about campaigning. It is exercising human rights. It is about helping to build the society. Demonstrations cannot be too much as long as those girls are missing. Demonstrations are an act of solidarity. Wherever they are today, when their mothers demonstrate on their behalf, their morale is raised.

“That is my message to security operatives who get scared of those who are agitating for a cause and fire tear gas at them. They must be treated with utmost respect and must be given their space. It is an act of solidarity for the children. Otherwise, when you stop these demonstrations, you are saying forget about the children,’’ he said.

Soyinka, urged the Federal Government and the security agencies to speak with one voice, as he called on them to demonstrate democratic responsibility.

“We have important things like reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, among others, to worry about. Yes, those things are important but ultimately, the society is for humanity and when one of us is hurt, we must allow ourselves to protest.

“I hope we don’t get the negative effects when they bring back our girls. And when we talk about democracy to our children, it is to teach them their rights. Therefore, there has to be greater coherence from the government and its agencies. We don’t have to know one single individual among the girls. We should demonstrate democratic responsibility. Let us continue to recognise solidarity with these girls and one day, they will come back or we will get to know what has become of them,” he said.

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