Open Letter to President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari to #BringBackOurGirls

BringbackourgirlsDear President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari,

As feminist, women and girl’s rights, gender and social justice institutions and organizations, we wish to congratulate you on your election to the highest office in Nigeria. Your election is a testament that your vision was shared by much of the electorate and their hope for a new beginning in Nigeria. We acknowledge that your priorities include ensuring safety and security for your citizens, recalling your words; “I pledge myself and the government to the rule of law, in which none shall be so above the law that they are not subject to its dictates, and none shall be so below it that they are not availed of its protection.”

We appeal to you today to show your leadership to the world and most importantly to your Nigerian citizens by ensuring that the hundreds of Chibok girls who are still at the mercy of Boko Haram are immediately rescued and reunited with their families.

Your Excellency, we are horrified by reports that have come out since the abduction of the Chibok girls one year ago which indicate that the girls are being used as sex slaves, forcibly ‘married’, used as human shields and suicide bombers. The families and communities have lived in trauma and stress every single day their daughters have been away from home and continue to believe, despite the time that has lapsed, that they will return.

We urge that upon taking office you:
1. Take immediate action to locate and rescue the abducted girls
2. Provide psychosocial support services for the
their families and their communities
3. Rebuild the schools, ensure public spaces are safe spaces and reaffirm the girls’ rights to safety, security and education as a process of restoring their dignity
4. Prosecute those responsible for the girls’ abduction and exploitation and put in place measures to hold military forces accountable for human rights violations
5. In consultation with citizens, civil society and women’s rights organizations institute measures and reforms to protect the safety and human rights of women and girls throughout Nigeria, which are further endangered by the volatile political situation in conflict areas
6. Guarantee the safety and security of the communities who have been internally displaced, as a result of the ongoing conflict in the region

May your tenure be one in which Boko Haram, and any other fundamentalist and extremist groups who wreak havoc, be challenged and overcome by the collective will and commitment to ensure the safety and security of every citizen – a tenure that values the lives of its girls and boys in the North as it does in the South, its rich as its poor, its majority groups as its minority groups. We look forward to an Administration under your leadership which will act, listen and respond swiftly and effectively to the needs of its citizens.

We stand ready to work with you and your administration to make sure that the demands of countless citizens both locally and globally for the safe return of the girls is met and that such a travesty will never be repeated.