#BringBackOurGirls Belfast protest by Nigerian Association of Northern Ireland
by Allan Leonard for Forum for Cities in Transition
17 May 2014
Members of Northern Ireland’s Nigerian community held a #BringBackOurGirls protest in Belfast on Saturday morning, 17th May, to express their concern for the abducted schoolgirls still missing in their home country.
More than 200 Nigerian teens, all female, were taken from the village of Chibok in Nigeria by Islamist terror group Boko Haram last month.
A crowd or around 30 people, made up mainly of members of the African and Caribbean diaspora, stood outside the City Hall with placards calling for the safe return of the girls.
The demonstration was organised by the Nigerian Association of Northern Ireland (NANI), alongside the African and Caribbean Support Organisation Northern Ireland (ACSONI).
Chairperson of NANI Dorcas Obikoya, who moved to Northern Ireland almost nine years ago, said the community wanted to make its feelings known:
“We are telling the Nigerian government to look into the actions of the Boko Haram and release those children,” she said.
She said people in Northern Ireland had been very supportive:
“We see support from the PSNI, and support from the city council. It is all over the news here in Northern Ireland, so it is very, very amazing the support we have received here.
“As mothers, as parents we felt it was important and necessary to show our concerns and make our voices heard,” said Ms Obikoya.
She further said support in Northern Ireland was vital:
“We are appealing to all Nigerians, and all Nigerian friends to support us to campaign for bringing our girls back.”
Among the protesters were Forum for Cities in Transition members Peter Osborne (FCT Belfast) and Michael Doherty (FCT Derry-Londonderry).
Mr Doherty demonstrated his appreciation of the traumatic event in Nigeria, as he was part of a delegation of two dozen who travelled from Northern Ireland to attend the large international annual gathering of FCT members, in Kaduna, Nigeria last November:
“Boko Haram literally means anti-Western education, and the intent of this outrageous abduction is remove these girls’ opportunities for any attainment in life, and to marry them off as obedient, house-imprisoned wives.
“Now at this calamitous time is exactly when we in Northern Ireland need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow brothers and sisters who are the integral persons who will make conflict transformation a reality, wherever in the world it is taking place,” said the Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Group (PRG).
Event covered by Northern Ireland media outlets:
BBC Northern Ireland: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-27454465
Belfast Telegraph: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/nigeria-schoolgirls-kidnap-belfast-holds-bringbackourgirls-rally-as-president-goodluck-jonathan-snubs-grieving-families-30282275.html