Wednesday marks two years since Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu was abducted along with 109 of her classmates from her school in northeast Nigeria by a faction of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
Although most of her classmates were later released by the Islamic State West Africa Province — a breakaway group of Boko Haram — Sharibu, then 14 years old, was not. She was reportedly held back from her classmates in 2018 because she refused to recount her faith in Christ.
Despite recent reports that Sharibu married a Boko Haram commander’s son and gave birth to a child, Sharibu’s family and their global supporters have not given up hope that the 16 year old will be freed one day.
In a statement shared with The Christian Post and other media outlets Tuesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari restated his vow to secure Sharibu’s release.
“Now aged 16, Leah remains in the hands of the terrorists — they say because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith,” Buhari said. “We say, as the government for and of all Nigerians, that no person has the right to force another to change their faith against their will and that all life is sacred.”
Buhari assured that the federal government is continuing efforts to secure Sharibu’s release as well as all other captives of the Borno-based terror factions that have terrorized the Lake Chad region for the past decade.
“[W]e do so regardless of their creed or the name of their creator,” the Muslim president said.
“As we as redouble our efforts for Leah’s return, we can never allow the terrorists to divide us — Christian against Muslim, Muslim against Christian. We are all sons of Abraham. And all Nigerians have the same worth and rights before the law, and before God.”
Despite his vow, Buhari has been criticized by international human rights advocates who say that his words do not match his administration’s actions.
“Just last week, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed the Nigerian government is committed to ensuring that every child taken by insurgents will be released. Two years after Leah was taken, the world wants to see action rather than talk,” Dede Laugesen, executive director of the nonprofit organization Save the Persecuted Christians, said in a statement.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith