Leah Sharibu was one of the 110 female students of the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, in Yunusari Local Government Area of Yobe State, who were abducted on February 19, 2018, by Boko Haram terrorists, as reported by The PUNCH.
Emotions flew on Sunday at the Church of Christ in Nations in Abuja during the special prayer session to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Leah Sharibu in the captivity of Boko Haram.
At the event, Christian leaders and members of Leah Sharibu’s family intensified their demands for the release of their abducted daughter.
While others were released by the terrorists following negotiations, Leah, then 14 years, is still being held captive because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
Five of the girls died on the day of the abduction while the rest were released in March 2018 leaving Sharibu behind because she refused to abandon her Christian faith.
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Daniel Okoh, in his keynote address at the event organized by Leah Foundation and Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Foundation, said Leah’s story had become a metaphor for all those currently being held in captivity by Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in Nigeria.
At the event, the founder of the Leah Foundation and Spokesperson of her parents, Dr Gloria Puldu, said it was a shame that Nigerians were still calling on the government five years later to secure the release of Leah and others in captivity.
She called on the presidential candidates contesting Saturday’s election to make a clear statement on what they will do to secure Leah’s release if elected.
While describing the government’s attitude as a broken promise, she said;
“They have given us a promise five years ago that they are going to release Leah but down the lane, it has not been fulfilled. They have less than 100 days in office to go and for us, as far as we are concerned they are broken promises, but they said they still have science.
“They can get Leah to be released and so her parents are calling on all the people that are involved internationally and even locally in our government that they should please do the needful. They (Leah’s parents) want their daughter back. Today is a very sad day for them. So, we are asking every peace-loving person on earth to join us in prayer like we have done today and just to pray that the Lord will give the government the wisdom and give them the courage to go ahead and secure her release”.
The CAN President represented by the President and CEO of Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, lamented that the Christian community had made several appeals both to her captors and the Federal Government to ensure her safe return but all to no avail.
“It is also a testament to the power of faith and courage in the face of adversity that is synonymous to the Christian faith. It is a tragic reminder of the reality of religious persecution going on in the country. This year marks five years since the horrific event took place and Leah is still in captivity. Leah Sharibu’s case is just one out of the numerous cases of faith-based persecution going on in Nigeria almost on a daily basis.
“Boko Haram elements have constantly unleashed terror on Nigerians particularly in the North East which led to the close of some schools in the height of their atrocities and targeted abductions.
“Leah’s refusal to abandon her beliefs, even in the face of grave danger, has inspired and will continue to inspire many people around the world to stand up for what they believe in and fight for justice and freedom of belief for all the people around the world.
“This anniversary may hopefully move the government to be more committed to securing the release of Leah and other captives alive. Many people still get kidnapped on a daily basis in Nigeria and many of the kidnap victims do not make it out alive even after paying the ransom.
“Behind Leah’s story is anguish, pain, heartbreak and fear for her parents and relations. As a nation, we must rise and speak up against every form of injustice no matter who is involved. We must demand better from our leaders” he said.