It is 2,000 days already since 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their hostel at the Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok, Borno State.
Fifty-seven girls, however, escaped within days of the abduction which took place on April 14, 2014, while 219 remained in captivity.
Five years later, an additional 107 girls returned – four of them as a result of Nigerian Military interventions, 21 released in October 2016 after negotiations with their captors, and a further 82 set free by the terrorist group in May 2017.
To mark the day, members of the Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG) held another sit out in Abuja, demanding the intervention of the Federal Government for the girls’ release.
Shoes bearing names of the abducted girls were used to draw the attention of the government and the international community to the plight of the girls, as well as all other abducted persons, including Leah Sharibu who was abducted in February 2018 in Yobe State.
The family members of Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl in Boko Haram captivity, have called on the Federal Government to match its words with action by ensuring the release of their daughter.
They made the appeal during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday in Yola, the Adamawa State capital three days after the government dismissed the reports of Leah’s death.
The family said the government is not doing enough to ensure their daughter’s release, adding that the Nigerian authorities should do everything possible to get Leah and others out of the terrorists’ captivity.
In her reaction, Leah’s biological mother, Rahila, decried that despite the assurances from the government, her daughter has remained in the captivity of the insurgents since February 2018.
She said, “I have come to cry to the government; we are very disturbed and worried. Since this girl was abducted, we have known no peace.
“We are pleading to them to please bring back this girl … my prayer is that God will hear our prayers and bring back our daughter so that we can have peace.”
Leah’s stepmother, Rebecca, said they were excited when they heard that their daughter was alive contrary to the recent reports of her death.
She, however, pleaded with the government to help ensure the release of Leah from the captivity of her abductors.
Rebecca said, “Just as we learned that Leah is alive on Saturday, honestly we are very happy to hear that. However, we are still pleading because it is not only today that we are being told that Lear is dead.
“When the general elections were getting closer, we were told that Leah is dead but they came out to say Leah is alive, until when Grace came out to say Leah is dead. Please, they should try and bring back my daughter.”
Explaining how Leah became her daughter, Rebecca said, “Just as you heard from her biological mother, but I am her mother because since she was very small, she was given to me.
“She grew up in my hands and I put her in nursery school, to primary school and up to secondary school. I trained her and taught her the fear of God and she grew up in the fear of God.”
The Presidency says Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl who was kidnapped by a faction of Boko Haram terrorists in February 2018, is alive.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, stated this while speaking to a group of journalists on Saturday in Abuja.
A year and six months after Leah was abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi in Yobe State, Shehu insisted that the Federal Government is making efforts to ensure her release from her captors.
He dismissed reports that the schoolgirl had been harmed by her abductors, noting that the Muhammadu Buhari administration would not give up on her safe return.
“Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors,” Shehu was quoted as saying in a statement.
He added, “Lines of communications remain open with the kidnappers, ISWA, to secure the release of Leah Sharibu.
“Contrary to false reports, she is alive – given assurances from our security agencies –, and the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families.
“Kidnapping for ransom should never be encouraged. This means not capitulating to the demands of terrorists: refrain from rewarding their heinous crimes with payment.”
According to the presidential spokesman, the government understands how difficult these times are for Leah’s family and friends, with the abduction.
He, however, stated that the government was “pursuing many options” to ensure the safe return of the girls.
Shehu said, “We must commit to law and communication, using the breadth of strategies at our disposal: legal initiatives, stakeholder cooperation, involvement of all relevant parties, and the use of the latest hostage negotiation techniques.
”Kidnapping for ransom is rising across the Sahel. We must – collectively – make sure we implement best practice to prevent its exploitation.”
The President’s spokesman described reports of Leah’s death as ‘fake news’, and called for patience in dealing with the challenge the case poses.
He gave assurance that the present administration was fully conscious that any misstep on a delicate issue as such could be costly.
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Dr Samson ‘Supo Ayokunle has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the release of Miss Leah Sharibu, Grace Taku and other hostages in the den of the Boko Haram terrorists.
The primary duty of any serious government, according to the CAN President, is the security of lives and property of the governed. Any government that cannot guarantee this primary responsibility may lose the confidence of the citizens.
In a press statement signed by Special Assistant, (Media) to the CAN President, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, CAN said that it has watched a video Boko Haram terrorists’ camp where Grace Taku, an aide worker of Action for Hunger, had appealed to the Federal Government, CAN, and other well-meaning people to secure her freedom and those of the other five victims, who were recently attacked and abducted by their captors recently.
The Christian body stated that Boko Haram sect sometime in April this year reportedly kidnapped a National Youth Service Corps member, Abraham Amuta and a cleric with Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), identified as Pastor Moses Oyeleke in Borno State, stressing that they have not heard anything about their whereabouts.
CAN’s communique further states that they have heard the prompt response made by the Federal government to the Save-Our-Soul cry of Grace, adding that they (CAN) join her in calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, and the security agencies, especially the Department of State Security to secure her freedom, and that of Leah Sharibu.
“Grace Taku has cried out on behalf of other hostages, like Amuta and Pastor Moses Oyeleke before getting too late.
“We urge the Federal Government to expedite action toward the captives’ release, as in that of Dapchi girls except for Leah Sharibu. We believe strongly that Leah Sharibu is still alive, hail and hearty and she will and others must be set free from the captivity. Enough of paying lips service to the menace of security challenges in the country.
“We have been calling for a total overhauling of the security apparatus of the country, and we have also asked the developed nations to assist Nigeria in combating the challenges before the country becomes unbearable.
“There is no exaggeration to say Nigeria roads are unsafe as kidnappers, terrorists, killer herdsmen and bandits are operating with impunity.
“How come these six aid workers were abducted and taken to the den of the captives without the awareness of the security agencies? What has become their intelligence gathering? Are we sure there are no saboteurs among our security agencies? Is there anything the government and the security agencies are doing to stop this menace that we don’t know to avert its negative effect as some notorious people taking the law into their hands?
“We call on well-meaning people and agencies to join CAN in pleading with our government and the security agencies to wake up from their slumber before it will be too late. Our prayer is that the awesome God will come to the aid of this country. He will free all the captives and comfort all the bereaved of the killings in the country, ” CAN’s statement partly read.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government is committed to the rescue of Leah Sharibu, one of the schoolgirls abducted Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Osinbajo stated this on Sunday during a town hall meeting with some Nigerians in New York, United States.
The Vice President stressed that over 108 girls have been rescued so far, and added that community policing can effectively tackle the nation’s security challenges including kidnappings.
“There are cases that are as important as other cases that have received worldwide attention. But at the same time, when you measure it against the performance of girls that have been freed till date, over 108 Christian girls.
“We shouldn’t say it’s Christian religious freedom, but who is responsible for kidnapping is committing an economic crime. To solve the problem, we need community, we need the state police,” he said.
Osinbajo also reacted to questions asked by diaspora Nigerians on poverty and unemployment in the country.
He lamented that the country recorded a population of 112.7 million people living in extreme poverty in 2010.
He claimed that the government during that period did not create Social Investment Programmes that will help ameliorate the situation.
“As at 2010, Nigeria had about 112.7million people living in extreme poverty. Nothing in place, there was no Social Investment Programme, there was no social security, no way of taking people out of poverty.
“That was the reason why we decided to put in place the National Social Investment Programme because it was to address questions of how to get our people out of poverty,” Osinbajo said.
Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana, has called on the human rights community and the Federal Government to do everything possible to facilitate the immediate release of the Dapchi Schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who is still in Boko Haram captivity.
Speaking at a gathering of concerned Nigerians in Lagos just days after she turned 16, Falana said Leah is not just an abductee, but a prisoner of conscience.
“The government must do everything to secure the release of that girl,” he said.
However, in the interim, he also advised that on a weekly bases, the government must brief the parents of all abducted girls.
“It is inhuman for parents of abducted girls to be reading what happened to their daughter on the pages of the newspapers, therefore, the government must be humane by visiting the parents of the abducted girls and assuring them of the efforts being made to release their daughters”.
Speaking further, he reminded Nigerians that apart from Leah, another 112 abducted girls are still missing and therefore, they must kick into action and not rely solely on the government.
“Again I want to suggest that we do not have to wait for the government.
“The human rights community should collaborate with the National Human rights commission to have a register of missing persons”.
The Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, an advocacy group has called on the Federal Government to release the abducted Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, from the Boko Haram captivity, stressing that her education is truncated.
The criticism comes a day after Nigerians marked the second birthday of Leah who was abducted along with over 100 of her mates from the Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi, Adamawa State.
While the other schoolgirls had regained their freedom from the insurgents, Leah, a Christian, was the only one who was not released for refusing to denounce her faith.
But appearing on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the Convener and Founder of the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, said the Federal Government ought to champion the cause for Leah’s release.
“Leah (Sharibu) presently is a voice. Our celebration yesterday not just in Abuja but throughout the country is to give a voice to Leah who is being held in captivity unjustly. Her education is truncated, something is happening in her life.
“The (Federal) Government should be on the lead in this advocacy. But what the government sometimes do is to come up with some narratives, they come up with explanations,” he stated.
Following the continued captivity of Leah by the terrorists, Para-Mallam explained that Mrs. Sharibu has been going through emotional trauma.
When asked if he has been communicating with her parents, he responded in the affirmative saying “regularly.”
“We spoke with Leah’s dad yesterday, two days ago I spoke with the dad. I speak to the mother from time to time, I try to reach her. Her line was off so their father explained that there was no power,” he stated.
More than a year after Leah Sharibu was abducted along with over 100 of her mates from the Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi, Adamawa State, hopes are still alive that she will someday be reunited with her family.
While the other schoolgirls had regained their freedom from the insurgents, Leah, a Christian, was the only one who was not released for refusing to denounce her faith.
Today marked her second birthday in captivity since her abduction on February 19, 2018 and a group of concerned Nigerians staged a march in her honour.
Some took to the social media to wish her Happy Birthday, while expressing sympathy over her plight.
Some others also expressed their frustration over her prolonged detention and urged the government to make more efforts to secure her release.
See some of the tweets below.
As Leah Sharibu marks her birthday in captivity today, I join other Nigerians and lovers of peace in the world to urge the FG Govt to ensure her release. God will sustain and her family members.
History will record that a young daughter of our country #LeahSharibu was left behind when her schoolmates were retrieved from terrorist abduction. She stood unwilling to negotiate her faith for freedom. @MBuhari promised, yet Leah is still with terrorists. She’s 16 today. Tragic pic.twitter.com/ZFkALAzsfi
May God continue to be with her and may He grant her freedom from her cruel captors. Millions are with you and are praying for you O Daughter of Zion. Blessed are those that are persecuted for their faith. In the fullness of time you shall prevail. Happy birthday Leah Sharibu!
Happy 16th birthday to LEAH SHARIBU..we have not forgotten you..you are in our daily prayers and all like mind believers are connected in faith and await your glorious return.The Lord of hosts is with you…happy birthday to you.
HBD to you bold, courageous and faithful #LeahSharibu as u turn 16. U have all the reasons on earth to denounce Christ but like Paul the Apostle “..to live’s Christ and to die’s gain” u echo even from captivity. As d world marks ur birthday I pray that God glorifies Himself in u pic.twitter.com/wAB6QyNrtp
Who does Leah Sharibu represent to you? To me she is a representation of a failing state called #Nigeria, she is an emblem of our ethic and cultural division, she is THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB chosen and persecuted because she refused to deny Jesus Christ. What a great faith! HBD Leah. pic.twitter.com/6rUOAgxNxg
Golden girl Leah Sharibu, a Leader that already is. strong, energetic, unperturbed and unashamed of Christ. You’re a source of inspiration to many all over the world including my humble self. Today, your 16th Birthday is one day closer to your freedom. We wait!#FreeLeahSharibupic.twitter.com/XGueY3CJrL
The National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle has cautioned the Federal Government that time is of essence in the release of abducted Leah Sharibu and other Chibok girls by insurgents.
The CAN President made the appeal on Thursday during a courtesy to Adamawa state to commiserate with the Christian community over recent attacks.
“Time is of the essence, every minute those people are spending in captivity matters so much about the years of heir lives. We don’t need to delay or hesitate any longer. We are glad that the president is still making promises, but let it be transformed into action. We want to see them back very soon.”
The Christian leader affirmed that the government has everything it takes to secure the release of Leah and the Chibok girls and any further delay could be dangerous.
“Our hearts are becoming sick; we have been hopeful. It is a government that is empowered to do work and they have everything it takes in order to know where these people are to get them out. The lives of the people in captivity are very important and attach to it, high priority.”
Meanwhile, father of Leah, Nathan Sharibu, urged the government to live by the promises made in the rescue of his daughter.
“I’m disappointed in the federal government because the president has called my wife several times and promised that he is doing his possible best to see that my daughter has been released. He sent some ministers to my house to encourage us that our daughter will be coming back very soon, but till now, we haven’t seen her.”
Rev. Ayokunle was also in Taraba state to sympathise with the government and people over attacks in Lau and Wukari which led to lives lost.
He urged the government at both state and federal to be more proactive in the protection of lives and property in order to forestall further attacks
The family of abducted Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu has again called on the Federal Government to secure the release of their daughter from the enclaves of the Boko Haram sect.
Speaking on behalf of the family, the Pastor of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Pastor Fidelis Saul in Yola, regretted that the indifference shown in facilitating Leah’s release is as a result of her faith.
“I believe that the government is taking sides. This is because Leah is not the only person that was taken away. But why Leah is still being left behind today is because she is always calling Jesus Christ her saviour.
“The government is taking sides, they see Christians as nothing. That is the reason why when we are crying, nobody will care about our crying. If the government knows that we are together, they should allow Leah to come back home right now before elections.