May 14, may have been any other day for some Nigerians, the day could have come and gone without any special attachment to the day for some. But it is a special day for close friends, families and relatives of Leah Sharibu, the only remaining Dapchi school girl in Boko Haram captivity.
Sharibu who was held at the middle of her 14 years of age turned 15, May 14. Normally, Sharibu would have marked her special day with friends and relatives at home or school if she were not in the Boko Haram captivity. According to Nathaniel Sharibu, Leah’s father, the family had planned to honour their first child on her 15th birthday. He said he had planned to throw a moderate birthday bash for her and her friends.
“It is very sad, I must tell you. I had proposed to arrange a befitting birthday party for her and her colleagues in the neighborhood but now we don’t even know her whereabouts. It’s so sad,” he said. All the same, the father still observed the birthday for his daughter but this time, in spirit filled way.
He organised prayer sessions for her simultaneously in Yola and Dapichi, Yobe, May 14. He said he had no choice than to lift the fate of his daughter to God through fasting and praying. “Right now, I am in Yola on official duty and the church I attend here held prayer sessions for my daughter just as our church in Dapchi did same,” he said.
He added that his wife, who lives alone in their apartment after the relocation of their only son from Dapchi, joined the prayer chain in the Dapchi branch of ECWA “but as a woman she was crying most of the time,” he said. Sharibu was held back for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
She was among the 110 girls-students abducted February 19 but she wasn’t part of those released a month after the federal government had negotiated the release of all the students in which Leah was unfortunate. Rebecca Sharibu, Leah’s mother, has not only been in sober mood since the abduction of her daughter, she has also lost peace of mind and sweet peaceful sleep, typical of a troubled mother.
Quite understandably, the mother became inconsolable and always in a deep state of mourning while other parents celebrated the return of their children. It was too much of a torture and an unbearable dilemma for her. As days, weeks and month passed by, her strength grew feeble but her faith in her belief wax stronger and resolute. Although, she went into coma, came round two days after, she kept hoping for what is now termed as ‘miracle’ to witness her daughter’s return.
In an interview with one of the national dailies, Leah’s mother said her daughter sent a message to her that her family should pray for the will of God to be done in her life. “The released girls told us that the insurgents insist that my daughter must denounce her religion.
They told us that she must recite the Kalima Shahada (the Islamic profession of faith in one God), which she does not know how to recite. Therefore, they told her that if she didn’t know how to recite it then she should come down from the vehicle. She had already boarded the vehicle alongside others that were ready to come home. So she was asked to go down and join some three other females they met where they were kept.
They said my daughter would only be brought back home the day she knows how to recite Kalima Shahada,” she narrated. The poor mother continued that, her daughter pleaded with her friends that if they eventually made it home successfully, they should inform we, her parents, to continue to help her pray for God to protect her and bring her home safely as well; that whether she survived or not, she still needed prayers.
My concern and question to the government is that since we were told that the negotiation was done for all the schoolgirls, why did government accept that only my daughter be left behind when others were freed and even brought home? With tears and trembling voice, she appealed to the Federal government to ensure her daughter’s quickest release.
“So I plead that Government and the negotiation team should revisit the terms of the agreement to enhance the release of my daughter. Everybody has his religion and no one should be compelled to practice a religion he or she never wishes to.” It is not only traumatic period for the Sharibu’s family, it is also a test of faith for those who have been keeping faith with the troubled family.
The family has emotionally connected with mothers of the world and other fellow Christian faithful, but it seems the Federal government is not connected, as it is yet to secure the release of Leah while mothers from different part of the country and world have also joined in pleading with the federal government to hasten the release of the teenager. Ironically, Rebecca, Leah’s mother is of a strong belief that her daughter’s abductors will accept her daughter’s faith-Christianity.
In an interview with New Telegraph, she said she was proud of her daughter ‘for not denouncing Jesus Christ’ even in the face of tribulation, stressing that she was resolute that her daughter’s incarceration would at the long run redeem the sect from perpetrating ‘evil into doing good’ Leah’s father alleged that government had not made any contact with his family since his daughter’s abduction.
“No delegation has visited the family since the February 19 episode. Not even a telephone call from anybody. Nobody has called me,” he said. He added that the whole town was in sad mood. “Even those whose children were returned are very sad about my daughter’s absence.
Though we are not of the same religion with them, they are just not happy and they are helping us in prayers too. They are doing their best possible through prayers to lift our burden,” Sharibu said. The father also pointed out that neighbours had daily been visiting his wife to counsel her, appealing to the Federal Government to alleviate the pains of the family by ensuring speedy release of Leah to rejoin the family. Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, last week said that efforts are in top gear, to ensure the release of the Leah Sharibu.
“We are yet to resolve the issue of six girls. 111 girls were kidnapped, 105 were returned and we are busy on daily basis asking and negotiating and asking what happened to those five officially at least and then what is delaying the young girl, Leah Sharibu.
Negotiations with insurgents are quite tortuous and complicated at times but I can assure you we are not leaving her to her fate and those who should do are busy daily working on her release,” the Minister said.
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