The leader of an Islamist military group that has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls says the group plans to sell the girls.
A man claiming to be Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, called for western education to end and said the girls should “go and get married” in a chilling, nearly hour-long speech released Monday.
Nigerian authorities say 276 girls were abducted from a school last month when armed men overwhelmed security guards at the school, pulling the girls out of bed and forcing them into trucks.
Police say at least 53 girls managed to escape. There have also been reports that eight more girls were recently abducted.
In recent years, Boko Haram, which means “western education is sin” has carried out dozens of attacks, killing hundreds of people at schools, churches, police stations, government buildings and elsewhere.
Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has welcomed a United States offer to send an American team to Nigeria to support the government’s response to the mass kidnapping.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the American embassy in Nigeria is “prepared to form a co-ordination cell” that would include U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations.
In Toronto on Tuesday, Raptors GM Masi Ujiri, who is from Nigeria, addressed the situation at his season end news conference.
“What is happening in Nigeria is an absolute atrocity,” he said. “For me to grow up in northern Nigeria and see what is happening with the abducted kids and women there, I have a daughter, I have a wife. I have a mom and sister that still live in Nigeria.
“It’s something that the whole world has to look at and we have to address strongly and me, in my position, I want to be outspoken about it, because it’s where I grew up and it should not be happening.
“I’m passionate about where I come from and what happens to young kids and people that deserve opportunity.”
Leaders and activists in Toronto’s Nigerian community have been banding together to help raise awareness about the dire situation.
“These kids could be my own kids. It touches my heart,” said Ayo Alabi, President of the Nigerian Osun Association in Toronto.
The group African Women Acting held a Protest at Dundas Square in downtown Toronto on Sunday.
Sonya Oduwa, who was among the protestors, spoke to CityNews on Tuesday.
“It’s anger. Do we not have leaders? How are they able to take over the country and take over Nigerian women, the womanhood in this way?
“There’s a huge sense of sadness and hopelessness and we are just asking, ‘What is going to happen to these girls?’ ”
The group is planning another protest at Dundas Square on Saturday at 6 p.m.