NAN – Hundreds of Nigerians in Chicago in the U.S. on Saturday held a solidarity rally, demanding that the terror group, Boko Haram, unconditionally release the schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno.
Over 200 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok on April 14.
The Nigerians, during the rally, also demanded greater U.S. support for the Federal Government in its war against Boko Haram.
The rally titled #unitedagainstbokoHaram:#bringbackourgirls was also organised in Atlanta, Dallas, Greenville SC, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Windsor Canada and Belmopan Belize.
Participants at the rally carried placards with inscriptions such as “Nigeria needs support to fight terrorism’’ and “Stop Boko Haram’’.
Other placards read “Obama, please help stop Boko Haram’’ and “we love the girls, bring them home’’, among others.
Addressing the rally, the acting Chairperson of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in the U.S., Dr Sandra Dafiaghor, said the rallies showed a united front against the terrorist organisation.
She urged the citizens and governments of the U.S., Canada, and all NIDO host countries to support Nigeria in the global war against terrorism.
“We are grieved and touched, by the abductions and recent stories of yet another abduction of about 60 women and children.
“Nigeria needs help to combat the global menace of terrorism. We are appealing to the American people and government to assist the Nigerian people stop Boko Haram and bring back our girls.
“We must rally round the Federal Government to ensure that the activities of Boko Haram are stopped,’’ Dafiaghor said.
She called for global assistance to fight terrorism in Northern Nigeria.
“We have a responsibility to rally behind the parents, people and government of Nigeria and bring the girls back home to safety,’’ the NIDO chairperson said.
“The violation of the rights of women and girls on such a scale, no matter who they are and where they are, requires the whole world to stand up and take action.’’
Dafiaghor called on all Nigerians to unite as a people to tackle all forms of terrorism in the country.
Also speaking, one of the participants, Ms Linda Oyewopo, who said she attended a school in Nigeria, said the students deserved to have the same opportunities as she did.
She said the girls were targeted for the simple reason that they went to school.
“They were exercising their right to education; they were kidnapped by the Boko Haram,’’ she said.
Boko Haram has for the first time been included on the UN list of parties or state actors who violate the rights of children in armed conflict.
This was among the findings released in the annual report of the UN Secretary General on children and armed conflict which highlights 23 conflict situations around the world.
The document highlights conflict situations where children are recruited and used, killed and maimed or become victims of sexual violence.
It documents cases of child recruitment by seven national armies and 50 armed groups fighting wars in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria and 11 other countries.
The Secretary General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui says: “Boko Haram has increased attacks on schools, killing and maiming dozens of children, as well as other grave violations.’’
Zerrougui said the situation in Nigeria is one of many grave concerns.