'It could have been me' - Dillard student on abduction of Nigerian girls



Posted on May 8, 2014 at 10:31 PM

Updated Friday, May 9 at 7:41 AM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- President Barack Obama is sending more military advisors to Nigeria on Friday to help the West African nation find hundreds of missing girls.

They were abducted from their school by a militant group.

Now Dillard University students from Nigeria are weighing in on the political crisis back home.

"Crazy enough. I went to an all-girls boarding school a couple of years back, and so that could have easily been me," said student Merrilyn Akpapuna.

The kidnappers came in the middle of the night, abducting 276 Nigerian girls from their beds. Now no one knows where they are.

Although continents away, Akpapuna is keeping a watchful eye on what's happening back home.

"They're called Boca Haram and they're against Western civilization which comes with education of the girls. They think this is against the Islamic religion," said Akpapuna.

The Islamic militant group claiming responsibility is connected to other terrorist attacks in the West African nation which is predominantly christian.

The Nigerian government with help from the United States is trying to find the missing girls. Mixed reports are abound claiming some escaped, others sold into slavery, or worse, divided up amongst their captors.

Akpapuna and fellow Dillard University student Stephen Igwe say more needs to be done to bring those girls home.

"It doesn't really help the situation when they're given the false information to the public. That's why I think they should go deeper really do the work the government needs to do," said Igwe.

The kidnapping is garnering a global outcry from world leaders to Hollywood stars to First Lady Michelle Obama. She will be Dillard's commencement speaker this weekend. A #bringbackourgirls movement has also gone viral.

"This is the 21st Century. I think women, they're suppose to be educated," added Igwe.

In two days Akpapuna who is this year's valedictorian will earn her psychology degree. She enrolled at university at 16-years-old. A milestone with added meaning knowing the missing 276, who simply wanted an education, aren't back with their families.

"It definitely pushes me to want to work harder," said Akpapuna.

Dillard's commencement is scheduled for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena. Michelle Obama will be receiving an honorary degree during the ceremony.