Lagos Lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday said the over 200 abducted girls should not be exchanged with Boko Haram’s prisoners as demanded in the latest video released by the sect.
He said the abducted girls are not prisoners of war, adding that they were legally abducted by the sect from their school.
Falana addressed reporters in Abuja after meeting with the protesting women.
He said arrangements were been made to assist parents identify the missing girls in the video released.
The protest to rescue the kidnapped girls will move to the residence of Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima tomorrow (today) to demand answers from the governor concerning the missing girls.
The campaign team is expected to meet at the Roman Catholic Church Asokoro by 3pm tomorrow (today) where a procession will be led to the Governors lodge by a former minister of education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, Femi Falana and other women.
The women said they will embark on a vigil if the girls were not released before Wednesday to mark one month of the girls in captive.
Falana said: “It is very disturbing that these criminals called Boko Haram sect is demanding that these girls be exchanged for prisoners.
“This is terrible because our girls are not prisoners of war, they were legally abducted, and they are not Nigerian soldiers, so there is no basis for the demand.
“The video; what we have tried to do is to get the parents of these abducted girls to see if they can identify their daughters in the video, arrangements are being made to do that.
“What is important is that the global pressure is paying off and that is why this cowardly organization has come out to assure the world that the children are safe and that they have not killed them.”
Falana, dismissed the need to obtain a police permit before any protest, assuring the women of legal support in their demands to rescue the missing girls by government.
“As far back as December 2007, we won that battle against colonial policy of asking for police permit to protest in Nigeria and we cannot go back. So, I have come to assure the protesters that the law is behind them and on their side and if there is anybody who comes to disturb them, they should let me know so that we can take appropriate action under the law because their cause is just and they have been very peaceful in demanding that that the criminals bring back our girls unconditionally.
“So the pressure will have to be intensified so that the world can make a case, we can make an example of this situation so that we are not going to succumb to the intimidation of criminals; those who have committed crimes against humanity have to be brought to book, so they cannot and it is illegal and immoral to use innocent children to bargain with the government of Nigeria.
“The protest has to go on all over the world and leaders have to join to protest so that these criminals can know that a violation of any child anywhere around the world is a violation of the right of the entire world. I am sure in a matter of days; these criminals will release these girls.”
He criticized the government over the poor handling of the girls, adding that the government needs to reassure Nigerians of safeguarding their lives and properties.
“The Nigerian government way of handling this is very disappointing particularly for the parents of the abducted girls. I can imagine the agony they must have been sentenced to in the last weeks in particular when some highly placed individuals in the society attempted to give the impression that these girls might not be missing after all and I have asked because for me, that is the unkindness of them all.
“How a gang of criminals would have collaborated with parents to have their children abducted and I ask, to make what point? So, I think the government will have to go the extra mile of assuring Nigerians that the security of lives and welfare of our citizens in line with Section 14 of the Constitution is paramount and that never again will the government of Nigeria play with the life of any individual in this country.”
Also, a former House of Representative member, Dino Malaye described police disruption of the protest as ‘brutality,’ adding that they were unstable in their behaviour.
He said: “What happened yesterday is what I call Police brutality, the police were very unstable, the gathering here is not only stable but peaceful. There have been protests in the United Kingdom, United States, and China, the first lady of America protested.
“It is very unfortunate that the police came here in the way and manner they did yesterday and I know that we cannot be intimidated, we cannot be cowed, we cannot be harassed, cause the battles to bring back this ladies is a battle of no retreat, no surrender.
“I am a father and one of them could have been my daughters, so we are here to see that we are with this people and will continue to pressurize government to do that which is needful and we will continue to see that the battle is of no retreat, no surrender and we cannot be intimidated by the police.
“I’m sure they have retraced their steps, that is why they are not here today and I want to say that what they did was against the constitution of Nigeria and even the law of the Federal Court of Appeal that says that the police has no power to stop processions, rallies and protests ones it is peaceful, so with that, I will say shame on the Nigerian police.”
One of the parents of the abducted girls, Mr. Hosea Tsambido said he had not seen the new video released by the sect.
The emotionally distraught father said he was sure he could identify his daughter when he had access to the released video.
“I have not seen the video. Arrangements are being made to make sure we have access to the video. All I want is to see my girl returned to me safe and sound.”