Almost two weeks on their abduction, the ongoing disappearance of more than 200 young schoolgirls is infuriating Nigeria’s leading Muslim groups, who called for prayers and intensified efforts to release the innocent girls from Boko Haram militants.
“We sympathize with the victims and their teachers and families,” Nigeria’s top Muslim leader, Al-Haji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who is the sultan of Sokoto, was quoted by the Washington Post on Tuesday, April 22.
“We call on the authorities to put all the needed efforts to free these innocent girls and get them continue with their studies.”
Nearly 234 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the extremist militants while being at school in the Chibok area of Borno State on Monday, April 14
The abduction was widely condemned by Nigerian officials as well as religious groups.
“The total number of missing students now stands at 230,” Asabe Kwambura, the principal of the state-run Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok told Bloomberg.
The Muslim Media Watch Group has also condemned the incident, calling for a special prayer to free the girls.
“This situation has put the whole nation in serious agony, fear and sorrow as nobody knows what has happened to the innocent girls,” Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, Muslim Media Watch national coordinator, told Nigeria’s Daily Trust.
The group called on all political parties to halt all activities, “so that we can all dedicate ourselves to spiritual devotion for the innocent children to be freed unharmed”.
“Security agents should redouble their efforts to locate the whereabouts of the helpless and innocent children without further delay,’’ the Muslim Media Watch said in a statement.
“God that created us does not support evil deeds, even if it is done to avenge any perceived wrong doings earlier done to them.
“He is capable of avenging correctly any wrongdoing if those affected truly believes in Him.”
Prayers and calls to free the abducted girls were echoed by Muslim women who protested in Kwara stated on Tuesday, April 22, to show support with the victims’ families.
“Our hearts are bleeding; we are mothers and we know what it takes to lose a pregnancy not to talk of a child,” Hajiya Ummuhani Abdulrahman, of Nasrul-lahi Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), wrote in a letter to the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
“We want these children to be found because they are our future.
“They are what we depend on as mothers.”
NASFAT has also condemned the recent attacks by insurgents in the African country.
Pleadings to release the innocent students were widely shared by Nigerian Christina leaders who regretted using religion to justify terror attacks.
“The abduction is most unfortunate and uncalled for,” Catholic Archbishop Alfred Martins of Lagos said in statement cited by The Tablet.
“We are pleading with our brothers and kinsmen in the Boko Haram to… have sympathy on the innocent children, our daughters, and release them to their family,” Revd Rev. Titus Pona, an official with the Christian Association of Nigeria. told journalists in Maiduguri.
Another Christian group began a three-day prayer and fasting period on Tuesday, April 22.
“We know no religion (that) prescribes abduction or infliction of pain as a way of devotion,” Pona added.
“We are calling on them to sheathe their arms and pursue their case in dialogue with the government.”
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban.
The militant group says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
It has been blamed for a campaign of shootings and bombings against security forces and authorities in the north since 2009.
But recently, the sect has carried out attacks against Christians and Muslims alike.