CAN faults release of ex-Boko Haram terrorists

…tasks Buhari on Leah Sharibu, Chibok girls’ release

 

 

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned in strong terms, the release of arrested Boko Haram members who were said to have been rehabilitated.

The umbrella organisation of Christians in Nigeria, yesterday, told the Federal Government that the move was suspicious and capable of dampening the morale of security agencies who were risking their lives on the battlefield.

Also, CAN tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his promise on the release of Leah Sharibu and the remaining 112 Chibok schoolgirls still in the custody of the Boko Haram insurgents operating in the North-East region of the country.

In a statement to commemorate Leah’s two years in captivity, the Christian organisation raised concerns that the so-called repentant insurgents who have been set free, could return to the terrorist camps and wreak more havoc on the country.

Director, Legal and Public Affairs of CAN, Kwamkur Vondip, who signed the statement, said: “The setting free of so-called ex-Boko Haram terrorists under de-radicalization, rehabilitation, and empowerment of the arrested terrorists by the Federal Government is rather troubling and suspicious. What is the guarantee that the freed ex-terrorists would not return to Sambisa forest and pick up their arms against innocent Nigerians? Media reports have it that a kingpin of the terrorists who was released has found his way back to the bush!

“We call on the government to please stop releasing those who are responsible for the horrendous killings in the country. It is like urinating on the graves of those they killed as well as a dirty slap on the faces of the bereaved and a way of weakening the morale of security agents in the battle field. Where on earth have they released the captured rebellious soldiers while the war is still raging? Was any armed robber ever released after being caught by the security agents?

“While we commiserate with the people and the governments of Adamawa, Borno, Katsina and Zamfara states over very recent attacks on them, we wonder why the presidency would issue warning to armless Katsina communities not to fight back invading murderous bandits who killed and wounded dozens of armless citizens? How does that justify the genuineness of the acclaimed fight against insurgency and banditry? When has self-defence become an offence in the country?”

Meanwhile, CAN said it was disappointed with President Buhari’s inability to keep to his repeated promises to ensure that these schoolgirls were released and reunited with their families, despite the several releases of some other abducted persons secured through the efforts of the same government.

It warned the Federal Government not to attempt silencing the church because of its demand for the release of the schoolgirls and other abductees, but to take the agitation as a wake-up call to do what is right.

The body also urged the government not to perceive the church and its leadership as enemies of the state for seeking the release of those in captivity and for demanding a safer and violence-free country.

Vondip advised the government to discountenance the praises by “sycophants and political jobbers” on what he described as the “unacceptable security situation and panic” in the nation.

The statement reads in part: “Recently, President Buhari was widely reported in the media reiterating his resolve and promise to secure the release of all persons abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists, especially Miss Leah Sharibu and the Chibok girls. The President made this same promise as part of his campaign promises before the 2015 presidential election. When will he do as he has promised repeatedly?

“It is two years now since that young Christian girl and unarguably, the face of the church in the country, Miss Leah Sharibu, was captured by Boko Haram along with other colleagues, but she is the only one still languishing in the den of her captors as a captive of faith simply because against the pressure from the terrorists, she would not convert to Islam.

“It is disheartening and painful that the government that freed her colleagues has not deemed it fit to secure her freedom, despite the fact that those in government have children or grandchildren of her age coupled with the fact that her father is a serving police officer. The same fate is the sad narrative of the Chibok girls’ mass abduction since 2014 after initial freedom of few of them. We commended the government then for securing the freedom of some, but since then, the rest have remained in captivity.

“The CAN is deeply saddened by the puzzle of kidnapping, ransom payment and the non-release of Leah, her reported present condition as well as other victims. The unsuccessful efforts to free the prisoner of faith by the Federal Government are highly disturbing, disappointing, depressing and unacceptable. More so that some abductees and persons kidnapped by the terrorists have had their ransoms paid and freed through the efforts of the Federal Government, relevant security agencies and some international Non-Governmental Organisations. The recent sad narrative about Miss Leah Sharibu’s maternal condition is worrisome.”

CAN also faulted the government over its failure to investigate the alleged funding of terrorism in Nigeria by the government of Turkey, despite the amount of information in the public space on the matter.

“CAN and indeed well-meaning Nigerians have repeatedly called for the overhaul of the security apparatus of the nation, but to no avail. Instead, the Presidency has been consistently hailing them as if they are impressed with the poor performance of the security agencies under their watch. It is very sad that while the Federal Government on one hand is trying to convince Nigerians to believe they are on top of the situation, the terrorists are further emboldened to speak and act in negation of their claims.

“As we mourn the loss of loved ones through unabated killings, continuous incarceration of the prisoners of faith, Leah Sharibu  and many other victims in terrorists’ captivity, we will continuously call on the Federal Government under President Buhari leadership to accept fully that Nigeria is in a precarious situation needing expertise counsel, urgent decisive local and international community’s intervention.

“We call on Christians and all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to pray and speak against the continuous killing of Nigerians and the unfounded excuses always given by those in government to explain away the absurd situation. We should not cease praying for the release of all the captives in the bondage of the terrorists, bandits and kidnappers that are believed to be running to several thousands. It is our hope that very soon, the siege over the country will be lifted and all of them will be released to unite with their families in Jesus’ Name,” the statement read.

The hostage drama began when 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their dormitory at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in 2014. About 164 of them either escaped or were later released while 112 girls are still in captivity, almost six years later.

Leah Sharibu, yesterday, clocked two years in the captivity of the Boko Haram insurgents, despite consistent promises from the government to secure her release.

New Telegraph recalls that Leah Sharibu was amongst the 110 students of Federal Government Girls Science and Technical College (FGGSTC), who were abducted on 19th February, 2018.

However, about five weeks after their abduction, all the young girls aged 11–19 years at the time, were released by the terrorists except Leah Sharibu who was held back by her captors for refusing to denounce her Christian faith and accept Islam.

The action of Leah, who was 14 at the time, did not only create uproar in the country, especially as the Federal Government could not immediately secure her release, but drew the attention of the international community.

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