Tens of protestors gathered in Leeds city centre earlier this week as calls to ‘Bring back our girls’ were heard from the city’s ‘frustrated’ Nigerian community.
A large protest, organised by the Leeds Nigerian Community, Angel of Youths and Leeds No Borders, was staged outside the Leeds Art Gallery, on The Headrow, on Monday 12th May.
More than 30 days have now passed since the group of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from a school in the village of Chibok, Nigeria, by the terrorist organisation, Boko Haram.
The location of the girls still remains a mystery, with military forces from the US, France, UK, Israel and Canada all now joining the Nigerian troops in the search for the children.
Leeds’ Nigerian community held the demonstration to show their support to the ‘Bring back our girls’ campaign and call o the Nigerian government to find the girls as soon as possible.
Marvina Babs-Apata, project manager at Angel of Youths, had to fight tears as she spoke passionately about her close ties with her home nation and the anger she has, seeing schoolgirls treated in such a way.
She said: “Women are not a bargaining chip and they shouldn’t be used as a pawn in the political anguish of some terrorists in anyway.
“I have a daughter and a son and just thinking that someone could take my kids because I send them to school is unacceptable. We have a lot of support and I’m just speechless in the way that we don’t appreciate what we have in this country.
“We can send our children to school and they can achieve whatever they want but back home, it’s like a fight to just send your children to get a higher education.
“We just want the opportunity to let Leeds know the pain that we as Nigerians are going through.”
Marvina was just one of the many campaigners who had ties with the African country and a ‘personal connection’.
Olu Taiwo, national organiser for the Alternative Workers Congress, has visited the area surrounding Chibok on a number of occasions in the past. He said that the area is predominantly run in accordance with a more Western culture and any attempt to turn the area into an Islamic state would just prove to be futile.
“The people of Borno State have lived by western culture for centuries,” he said. “If this Boko Haram group think they can turn the 190million population into an Islamic state it just isn’t going to happen.
“I want to ask Abubakar Shekau (Boko Haram leader) how he would feel if his children were kidnapped. I want him to think seriously about what is happening and exactly how he, or the mother of that child, would react.
“Return these girls now. They have nothing to do with what you are fighting over and we just want peace to rise again in our country.
“This is not what Islam teaches and the sooner we find these children the faster we can get peace.”