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Deadline on Leah Sharibu: Religious leaders appeal to abductors



Deadline on Leah Sharibu: Religious leaders appeal to abductors
  • FG’s ‘expected’ visit will hasten her release –Dapchi residents



More empathy swayed the way of the lone schoolgirl still in Boko Haram captivity, Leah Sharibu, yesterday when some prominent religious leaders, under the aegis of Interfaith Initiative for Peace (IIP), yesterday in Abuja appealed to her abductors to release her. The leaders made the appeal on the sideline of a peace conference organised by IIP towards the 2019 general elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports IIP is jointly founded by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Saad Abubakar and the Catholic Arch Bishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan. Sharibu, the lone schoolgirl was abducted alongside over 109 other girls of Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, this year.

The clerics appeal, however, emerged same day residents of Dapchi in Yobe State expressed their confidence in Federal Government’s ability to secure Sharibu’s release, following the visit of a highpowered Federal Government delegation to the town yesterday.Speaking to journalists on behalf of the group, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria, Rev. Yakubu Pam, said the abductors should abandon their threat in order the save Sharibu’sfamily from the agony of losing a child in such a violent circumstance.

He said: “We heard that they said next week is their deadline and that is why in this meeting, as we are discussing about the peace of this country, we felt that it is very important and very paramount to talk about this matter. “The mother is in agony, the family is in agony and we are appealing to their conscience. Whatever it is, let them be lenient and also allow God to speak to their heart.”

The cleric added: “We are here as religious leaders and traditional rulers to appeal to the conscience of the abductors of these innocent girl. “I know too that the mother has also cried, the family members have cried to the abductors of this innocent girl as well as well meaning citizens of Nigeria have also cried.

“We want to appeal to them, to please, for the sake of God, release this innocent girl and by doing this, Nigeria will appreciate.” Pam called on the government to do whatever it can within its powers to ensure the girl is safely released and reunited with her family. He noted that the leaders of the two major religions in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam, as well as traditional rulers were attending the conference to discuss peace ahead of the 2019 general elections. Speaking in the same vein, the Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters’ Mosque in Abuja, Sheikh Mohmamed Khalid, appealed to the abductors to have a rethink and revisit their minds on the abducted girl. He noted that the abductors of Sharibu were on their own and they did not represent Islam.

He said: “We are here to speak on behalf of the bodies of the two main religions, Islam and Christianity. We want the world to understand that these people that are holding our children and other people in captivity are not representing anything, they are on their own. “Islam is not asking them to abduct anybody and we the Muslims are going to join hands with anybody to do anything possible to secure Nigerians from their agony”.

He stressed that the abductors of Sharibu had no basis to hold her captive since her colleagues whom they were abducted together were released. NAN recalled that the mother of Sharibu, the only one of the kidnapped Dapchi girls who remained in captivity, had appealed to her abductors to be compassionate and release her daughter unharmed. She made the appeal on Thursday in an interview monitored on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). While most of the girls have been released, Leah has remained in captivity, and her abductors have threatened to kill her. Similarly, the family of two of the three female aid workers who were abducted in March 2018 had pleaded for the release of the women. Alice Loksha was working with ICRC in Rann, Kalabalge, when she was abducted, while Amina Liman was working with UNICEF also in Rann when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram. Also in an interview monitored on NTA on Thursday, Gideon Loksha the younger brother of Alice, pleaded for the release of his sister. In a separate interview, Yiakachi Liman, the mother of Amina,madea passionate plea for her release. The third abducted lady, Saifura Hussaini Ahmed, was killed by her abductors last month.

Meanwhile, the residents, who spoke to NAN, in separate interviews in Dapchi, said the concern exhibited by the Federal Government had rekindled their hope for the release of Leah. NAN reports that the Federal Government’s delegation was expected in Dapchi yesterday to meet with the parents of Leah who is still in the insurgents’ captivity.

Over 100 school girls abducted by the insurgents were released, except Leah Sharabu who refused to renounce her religion. Chairman of Dapchi School Girls Fathers Association, Alhaji Bashir Manzo, said the Federal Government had been very committed to ensure the release of the girl. Manzo said.

‘The expected visit of the Federal Government delegation gives us more hope and confidence in her return soon.” Another resident of Dapchi, Bukar Modu, said: “President Buhari has demonstrated to us that he is a true father of the nation. “The actions of his administration have shown fatherly concern to the parents, students and the entire community.”

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