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

Published: Saturday, 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.

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

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