Parents of Leah Sharibu, one of the 110 abducted students of the Government Girls’ Technical and Science College, Dapchi, Yobe State, who was not released by her abductors for allegedly refusing to convert to Islam, have called on government to do all within its power to secure the freedom of the 15-year-old girl. They said only their daughter’s release could strengthen their belief that government was not biased in its negotiations with the abductors.
The Sharibu accused the Federal Government of letting them down. Leah’s mother, Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu and her father, Mr. Nathan Sharibu, told Premium Times, an online newspaper, that President Muhammadu Buhari had reneged on his promise to rescue all the abducted girls when he visited Dapchi, adding that the continued detention of their only daughter would be tantamount to injustice. Amidst tears Rebecca said: “But my heart was broken on Wednesday morning when I searched through the released girls and could not set my eyes on my dear daughter, Leah.”
Rebecca, who had just returned home from the hospital, had fainted after receiving the news that Leah, her first child and only daughter, was not among those released. She said: “If Leah is home, she and her little brother would attend to everything in this compound. She would not let me do anything.”
On Wednesday, 104 of the schoolgirls were released after being held by the insurgents for 32 days. Five others had died while being transported on the day of the abduction on February 19, some of the freed girls said. They explained that the only girl still in captivity, Leah, was held back by the terror group because she refused to recite Kalima Shahada (the Islamic profession of faith in one God), to confirm her conversion to Islam. Rebecca, an ethnic Kilba from Hong Local Government Area of Adamawa State, said she had lived all her life in Dapchi. She said some of the freed girls told her how Leah was stopped by Boko Haram at the last minute.
“What her schoolmates that returned told me was that my daughter (was told she) must recite the Kalima Shahada (the Islamic profession of faith in one God), and she does not know how to recite it.
“So 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 insisted that she does not know how to recite and that she was not brought up as a Muslim. That was why she was held back. She was asked to go and stay with those three women who were also captives there.
“She then 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?
“So I am begging the Federal Government of Nigeria, if the negotiation was because they love all the girls as their own, they should do everything to help release my own girl.
“To the Boko Haram members, I have nothing to say other than they should have pity on my only daughter and release her. It was not her fault that she is a Christian, I know that in this world, everyone chose the path of faith he or she has chosen in worshipping God. There is no way one could be forced to do what he or she does not know. It is not possible.”
On his part, Leah’s father, Sharibu, said he was away in his home state, Adamawa, when he received the news on Wednesday morning that his little girl and her colleagues were on their way back home.
He said: “Half way on my return journey home, I received a call that the girls had arrived and only my daughter was left behind because she refused to convert to Islam.
I became sad. To make matters worse, I was called again to be informed that the mother was unconscious and was in the hospital.” Sharibu said he would not be happy until his daughter was rescued and brought home just like her mates.
He added: “Nigeria must do all within its powers to go and bring back my daughter, the same way they did to others. I really thank and appreciate the people of Dapchi community especially on how they rally round us at this time of great sorrow. “I am from Hong in Adamawa State, I got married here in Dapchi and all my children were born here.”