Voices calling for action from the Capitol, bring Nigerian girls home

By Emilee Bench, Deseret News

Published: Sat, May 24, 2014, 7:40 p.m. MDT

 Murtala Atta and other Nigerian Association in Utah members rally in support for a global call for the abducted girls of Chibok near the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City Saturday, May 24, 2014.

Murtala Atta and other Nigerian Association in Utah members rally in support for a global call for the abducted girls of Chibok near the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City Saturday, May 24, 2014.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A dozen people gathered in front of the Utah state Capitol Saturday waving signs, chanting and singing. Dressed in green to represent the Nigerian flag, the group sang "bring our girls back."

The members of the Nigerian Association in Utah came together in peaceful rally to add their voices to the world-wide call for action to bring the abducted girls of Chibok home.

Last month, nearly 300 girls were kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, from a school in northern Nigeria.

"What is happening in Africa is a matter of humanity," said Andy Iheanacho, president of the association. "And as part of humanity, we should go out to support.… To support education and bring awareness."

Iheanacho said though a month has passed since the kidnappings happened, he doesn't want the situation to lose attention.

"We want to be able to have the western world, especially the … United States to do what they can to assist the Nigerian government to return these girls safely."

Sola Ojo came to Utah four years ago. Although his immediate family lives in London, he said he still has extended family in Nigeria.

"But it still doesn't really matter if I have immediate family or I don't (in Nigeria)," he said. "What matters most is humanity."

Ojo hopes Utahns will stay informed on the situation in Nigeria, a situation he said is one of the biggest problems in his country.

"We want Utahns to be aware that this is a problem," Ojo said, and "do whatever they can to sensitize the federal government."

Philip Anosike said he wants to see more involvement from the United Nations and to work with surrounding countries.

"Can you imagine if a bunch of girls were taken by a bunch of men and sent to Mexico," he said. "United Nations and America would be doing all they can, exerting so much force on Mexico to do something about it."

Anosike said the world knows about the abducted school-girls, but doesn't think the world understands that they have not been released. The issue is not resolved.

"They are still in captivity."

Many at the capitol were also rallying for the right to an education.

Laetitia Odunze reflected on her own education Saturday.

She and her husband both attended the University of Missouri and the University of Oregon. She now has two daughters, one is a medical doctor the other is an accountant.

"I can't imagine life without education," Odunze said. "So I support girls having education."

Joan Effiong said education is the foundation.

"That's where leaders come from. Leaders don't come from being illiterate," she said. "Of course education is a right for everyone and good girls and boys should be educated.

On Wednesday, the United States deployed 80 military personnel to Chad in hopes of working to find the girls, according to the Associated Press.

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

1. ER in AF
Harare, Zimbabwe, 00,
May 25, 2014

We cannot do everything. We cannot save everyone. I live in Africa,I have lived elsewhere in Africa and Asia. My daughter is in India right now weighing out how best to serve and save. We cannot save everyone. They are not "our" girls. The US cannot ever hope to eradicate problems or suffering. If we do try we will only expend what breath we have and not accomplish what we can do. We should focus on the answers to questions that we can answer, and realize that other peoples and nations have responsibility to address "their" problems and needs We should not engender the response by all nations to look to us (US) to fix everything. We cannot.

2. Abdulameer
Chicago, IL,
May 25, 2014

It is misleading to characterize Boko Haram as an "Islamic extremist group". They are extremist only in the sense that they are following their Koran literally whereas most Moslems don't. The Koran specifically permits the capture and enslavement of non-Moslems, and it permits Moslems to use their captive female slaves for sex. Also, the name "Boko Haram" is only the nickname of the group, and it means "Non-Islamic education is forbidden". The Real name of the group is "The Congregation of Muhammad's Traditions, Proselytization and Jihad". They are a thoroughly Islamic group, no more "extremist" than Al Qaeda, the taliban, the Somalian Al Shabab, Hamas, Hizbullah or even The Muslim Brotherhood and many other Islamic terrorist groups in many countries too numerous to mention here.

American Moslem groups, concerned about public relations and Islam's image, will issue pro forma condemnations of Boko Haram, but they never even hint at the Islamic sacred texts which Boko Haram uses to justify its acts.

3. What in Tucket?
Provo, UT,
May 25, 2014

Someone, some people have to have permission our authority of the Nigerian Govt to go into the bush and extract the girls. Would their Muslim captors kill them and fade away? Good luck to those who try. Without US help I don['t see the Nigerians succeeding. It is a country of 178 million half are Muslims who may not care. A tough call. I applaud those keeping it in the news.

4. no fit in SG
St.George, Utah,
May 25, 2014

ER in AF,
...and if one of "those girls" were your child?

5. Rustymommy
Clovis, NM,
May 25, 2014

Reminding us that these poor girls are still missing does nothing but add to their captors sense of success. Their goal is to call attention to their radical, terrorist selves. So, congratulations to each of you who are so graciously playing into the hands of these terrorists so well. Unless somebody is planning to actually do something besides holding up signs on facebook or organizing rallies, these well meaning social activists are wasting their time. I appreciate their concern, but they change nothing. If they want to collect money to hire mercenaries to get the job done, then maybe they can accomplish something. If they want to put pressure on the appropriate government to do something, good for them. But frankly, I don't think terrorists are scared or influenced by the "save our girls" social media campaign. And if a government hasn't acted on behalf of its own citizens by now, it probably won't. I want those girls home as much as anybody, but think this is a waste of time and just a feel good ploy by the media.