NIGERIANS in London have vowed to continue protesting outside the Nigeria High Commission in central London until all the 234 girls abducted by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram are safely returned to their homes.
On Monday, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Nigerian High Commission in London again, where they chanted “Bring them back!” as well as “Not for sale!” and “African lives matter!”
Anger has been mounting in Nigeria and in the diaspora, over the lack of information about what efforts are under way to secure the girls’ release. Many contend authorities are not doing enough and have taken to social media using hashtags #BringBackOurGirls and #BringBackOurDaughters to demand more from the government, a move that appears to have ignited a global call for action.
Oshunkoya Olalekan, a London university law student and president of Nigerian Students in the Diaspora, UK chapter, played a key role in organising the action.
He said, “We think it’s important that we make noise and that we get the attention of the media and the public and foreign governments to understand that the silence of the Federal Government of Nigeria about the abduction of 234 girls in northern Nigeria is no longer acceptable. The government has to do more and collaborate with international institutions as well, to make sure these children are brought back safely to their parents.
“We know they’re doing something, but we need them to be more proactive. We want them to go the extra mile since the lives of these 234 children is something we cannot just ignore like that. It’s been more than three weeks since these children have been missing. There is no information and the army has not been able to capture or arrest a single person. The only information that we have is what we have heard from the girls who escaped who were able to tell us what had happened to them,” he explained.
The London Bank Holiday demonstration, staged in solidarity with protests in Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States, aimed to put pressure on the Nigerian government and international community to take swift action to secure the girls’ release.
Crowds from Los Angeles, Cape Town to London rallied on Saturday, carrying posters reading #BringBackOurGirls — a campaign that began on Twitter after the mass abductions.
It has been three weeks since the young women were abducted by Boko Haram gunmen while sitting their final year exams at a high school in the north eastern province of Chibok.
Reports at the time said the 17 and 18 year olds had been taken to the terror groups hideout in the Sambisa forest, but after botched rescue attempts by the Nigerian military due to last minute tip offs, it is likely the girls have been moved.
Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction , threatening to sell them as “slaves”.
“I abducted your girls,” the Islamist group’s leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the kidnapped students.
Political Power Play
Many of the demonstrators believe that the government’s handling of the crisis is being influenced by the looming presidential elections which will take place in 2015.
Protester Adesua Olunuyiwa, said the “Boko Haram problem” in Nigeria is primarily one of security and believes that the government’s response to the crisis has become politicised and suspects that there may be some politicians in President Jonathan’s administration who sympathise with the Terror group.
Olunuyiwa said, “They need to take politics out of it. They are just thinking of the 2015 election and don’t want to intervene in case they lose votes.”
Meanwhile, there have been further reports of Boko Haram abducting 8 more girls in North East Nigeria.
On Tuesday, the White House decided to send military assistance and law-enforcement personnel to assist in search and rescue of nearly 300 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls.
The UK is also mulling sending its special forces, SAS to help locate the kidnapped girls.
By Chizom Ekeh