The Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans praised the U.S. government after it announced that it will send forces into Nigeria to help rescue over 270 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. The association has called for more urgent action on the issue.
"We acknowledge that yesterday President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the U.S. would be setting up a Coordinated Cell within the American embassy in Nigeria to provide intelligence and investigation assistance," CANAN President Dr. James Fadel said at a press conference on Wednesday. "We have heard as well that the Nigerian government has accepted this offer. We are grateful."
Fadel urged the U.S. to "use every available tool within its arsenal to trace, track and terminate the funding and operations of Boko Haram which has claimed responsibility for this horrendous abduction."
He also called on the United Nations Security Council to designate Boko Haram a terrorist group, and for the American government to engage the Nigerian government "in straight talk, mounting diplomatic measures that can curtail the political posturing that often weaken government's resolve in the fight against terrorism in the country."
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama's administration announced that it will send military, intelligence and law enforcement agents to Nigeria to aid in the search and rescue of the schoolgirls.
"You've got one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in Boko Haram in Nigeria, they've been killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we've already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians – this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that's perpetrated such a terrible crime," Obama told ABC News.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly accepted the offer. The schoolgirls, believed to be over 270 in total, were taken after Islamist militants stormed an all-girls school in Chibok, Borno State, last month.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau admitted earlier this week that his organization is responsible for the kidnapping, and said that he plans to have them sold on the market.
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"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," Shekau said in a video translated by CNN.
"There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women."
Boko Haram has been waging war on the Nigerian government and on the country's Christian population for the past five years now, bombing state buildings and shooting up entire congregations. On Tuesday, a Nigerian evangelist identified that the vast majority of the kidnapped schoolgirls are Christians.
"Chibok local government is 90% Christian. Majority of the girls abducted are Christian! Why did Boko Haram visit Chibok local government? Why didn't they visit so many other local government girls secondary schools in Borno State?" asked Evangelist Matthew Owojaiye of the Old Time Revival Hour Church in Kaduna, who said that 163 are Christian girls and 15 are Muslims.
International Christian Concern shared that close to 2,500 people have been killed by Boko Haram in 2014 alone, many from Christian communities.
"Boko Haram's deliberate targeting of Christian students for sale into domestic slavery and forced marriage once again illustrates the group's limitless repertoire of evil and its willingness to unleash that evil in pursuit of a separate Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. While ICC continues to join the international community in calling for a return to a peace in northern Nigeria, we cannot refuse to recognize the Nigerian State's inability to provide the security necessary to ensure prosperous living for the nation's Christians and other minority religions, especially in the increasingly lawless northern regions," William Stark, ICC's regional manager, said on Tuesday.
Laolu Akande, executive director of CANAN, previously told The Christian Post in April when news of the girls' kidnapping first broke out, that although there are not many reports of the terrorist groups carrying out abductions, the strategy is not something new.
"Boko Haram has been kidnapping little girls who are Christians, trying to turn them into sex slaves, trying to convert them by force. Their strategy is to marry the girls and kill the men. So what they have done by kidnapping these female students, it is another demonstration of the impunity with which Boko Haram has been running its terrorist activities," Akande said.