July 14, 2017
Professor Yemi Osinbajo
The Acting President
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Lagos State Government
AN OPEN LETTER ON THE ABDUCTED LAGOS SCHOOLBOYS
We write to commiserate and engage with the Federal as well as Lagos State Governments on the tragic abduction of six students from the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe on Wednesday May 24, 2017. We have followed with intense interest any development on the rescue effort announced by Lagos State and the Nigerian Police since the unfortunate incident. Sadly, 50 days after today, having only seen the worried parents publicly seeking information on government action for the rescue of their children, we are compelled to reach out to learn more from your two respective authorities.
As a civic movement that has advocated to the Federal Government to rescue our #ChibokGirls for 1,172 days today, who were similarly abducted from their secondary school in Borno on April 14, 2014 we are now worried at our feeling of deja vu. This is in contrast to our confidence when news of their abduction first broke. We had based on two previous swift and successful rescue of other abducted school children by the Police and the Lagos State Government believed that our six school boys would be back by now.
Regardless of the fact that rescue efforts have so far not yielded results, our Movement strongly believes that with a vigorous and sustained drive by the Federal and State authorities, the missing school children can be quickly found and brought back to their disconsolate parents
To this end, we would like to raise the two key demands:
1. We request for the latest update on the status of the rescue operation from the Federal and State Governments. We seek to know whether all options of rescue has been considered and if so, what the authorities consider are the challenges are to executing the options that can best guarantee their rescue. This way, our Movement can also help convey the right message to members of the public who keep reaching out to our Movement for such updates.
2. We advise and urge a review of the communication and feedback approach and better systems, channels and structures for closer and cooperative relationship between Government and the affected families. The spectacle of parents and families of the abducted boys crying out on the Streets for information does little to boost confidence in any ongoing efforts by the two levels of Governments. We therefore request that effective channels be immediately opened and maintained by the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Police to manage communication and collaboration between the Government, Relatives and the Public.
3. We advise that the Federal and State Governments should collaborate to systematically assure the Nigerian public of safety of schools and school children all across the country. It is crucial that the public is well informed on the safety measures being taken to avoid repeat occurrences. We therefore suggest that this is moment of opportunity for the Federal Government to consider a major relaunch of the Safe School Initiative to massively pull in communities and the civil society.
4. While the Federal Government is making plans to relaunch the Safe Schools initiative as we have proposed in item 3 above, we suggest immediate adoption and implementation of key guidelines of the “Safe Schools Initiative” (2014) and “Safe Schools Declaration” (2015). These guidelines entail a combination of (i) school-based interventions; (ii) community interventions to protect schools; and (iii) special measures for at-risk populations. In addition, we propose the implementation of strategies and governance elements that concern the development of domestic policy and operational frameworks – such as the recently signed “Kidnapping Prohibition Bill 2016” – to promote the safety of Schools in Lagos State.
5. Utilize the Verification, Authentication and Reunification System (VARS) when abducted victims are rescued: As a movement, we have designed a global best practice system of Verifying, Authenticating and Reunifying abducted citizens when rescued. The VARS is a holistic approach to the Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Resettlement of victims of abduction. We request that a similar program be developed by the Lagos State Government to manage the processes within the critical period that immediately follows a rescue. Please find our VARS attached to this letter.
We hope that the Federal and State Governments appreciate that it is our strong concern for the unacceptable state of of #EndangeredEducation in our country that compels us to demand swift action whenever our children are abducted from their schools. Our government authorities must take all the steps and measures necessary to show to our common enemies that the Nigerian state will never again allow our children to choose between safety and being alive. The most persuasive way to achieve this is to take actions that would result in immediate and safe recovery of the 6 students of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe.
We look forward to receiving the response to our letter from the two authorities to enable our Movement support the efforts for successful resolution of this tragedy.
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls
AISHA YESUFU OBIAGELI (OBY) EZEKWESILI
1. Inspector General of Police