World Bulletin/News Desk
Nigeria's protesters on Saturday demanded the government to brief the public about the findings of the multinational search for scores of girls abducted by Boko Haram 82 days ago.
"All we demand for is the truth," former minister Oby Ezekwezili told fellow protesters at a venue just a few meters away from an army headquarters in Lagos.
"The government must tell us the truth," she said.
Hundreds of protesters braved heavy downpour in the commercial capital Lagos to continue rallies dedicated to pressing the government to ensure the girls are returned home alive.
"We want to know what is happening," said the former minister, flanked by top public figures like former Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) President Ayo Obe and former Lagos finance commissioner Wale Edun.
On April 14, Boko Haram militants abducted dozens of schoolgirls in Chibok town of Borno. Only about 54 of the girls have returned, while authorities say about 219 remain missing.
Boko Haram kingpin Abubakar Shekau had since claimed responsibility for the abduction, and offered to exchange them only with some of his fighters currently detained by the government.
Ezekwezili said the protesters are neither troublemakers nor thoughtless government antagonists.
"While we appreciate the sensitivity of security issues, we insist the government must balance such sensitivity with the need to keep the public informed," she added.
The government has said information regarding the girls' abduction - and rescue efforts - will be treated with caution.
"This is a cause we are committed to not because we want to give bad name to the government but because it could have been anyone of us," said Ezekwezili.
"Our humanity is involved as a people. So do not listen to those who have branded us with all sort of names," added the former minister.
Visit not allowed
Asked to comment on remarks by former president Olusegun Obasanjo that the girls may never return, the former minister said it is her belief that the girls would be brought back alive.
She said she would rather believe claims by the chief of defense staff that the security agencies know the girls' location but would not use force to get them out for fear of losing them in the rescue effort.
Last week, American officials openly contradicted the Nigerian military by saying - more than a month after joining the multinational search effort - it is not aware of the girls' whereabouts.
Ezekwezili also dismissed as a deliberate distraction claims by critics of her protest movement that it was being sponsored by the opposition.
She criticized the government for not allowing the protesters to visit Chibok in a show of solidarity with the girls' families.
"Seventy-six of us had signaled intention to visit the community to identify with the relatives of the girls but the National Security Adviser said no one is allowed there except they are cleared," said the former minister.
"We have since written the NSA to seek clearance for the visit but there has been no response. So we are not cleared to go," she added.
Ikechukwu Adaobi, one of the protesters, said she was attending the sit-in for the first time.
"Until now I was only following the movement on social media but I was touched by the fact that some guys have for the past weeks been leaving their personal business to gather to defend our common humanity," she told AA.Last Mod: 07 Temmuz 2014, 00:13