Anxiety mounts as Leah’s deadline approaches
As the deadline given by Boko Haram Islamic terror group looms, to execute Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl held by the Jihadists because she will not convert to Islam, Christian organisations and groups have intensified prayers for her release.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a phone call last week, spoke with Rebecca Sharibu, Leah’s mother to “convey my emotion, the strong commitment of my administration and the solidarity of all Nigerians to you and your family as we will do our best to bring your daughter home in peace and safety.” The senior press assistant to the president, Garba Shehu said.
The assurance by the President has however not eased fears or given much assurances to many christian groups who are holding round the clock prayers for Leah’s life. A “Dateline Prayer appeal” has been called out by Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, secretary of the Heads of Denominations meeting in Jos, yesterday 14 October, appealing to christians to “pray that the Nigerian government do all in its power to secure her release…. That through Leah’s case God will also God stir the hearts of our political leaders in government to act with a deep sense of justice and fairness and the right political will, to do all in their power to get the Chibok girls.” Out of captivity.
President Buhari’s phone call came only after Leah’s mother tearfully pleaded with the President, at a press conference held at the national headquarters of the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students, in Abuja on Saturday 29 September, to make every effort to secure Leah’s release and pointed out that no government official had spoken or contacted the family since Leah’s adduction and since the “threat has been sent out that with effect from October 2018, Leah Sharibu would be next in line to be killed.”
Rebecca had called on “anybody that can do anything to free Leah” to help and thanked “the entire world, most especially Nigerians for standing with the family and for their prayers on our behalf.”
The Al Barnawi faction of the Islamic terror group had released a video which showed the execution a staff of the international Community of the Red Cross, “to send a message of blood” to President Buhari and warned that Leah will be next, giving a month for the nigerian government to meet its demands for her release. The demand was not however stated.
Rebecca, in the press conference, had said she was aware of a law suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos by Daniel David Kadzai and a United States-based non-governmental organisation, Lift-Up-Now Incorporation, demanding a five million Naira (about £10,000) compensation for the the family but Rebecca said she is not interested in the suit, “I’m not aware of it and I did not send them. I am not after money. All I want is my daughter to be released,” Rebecca said. Leah’s father, Nathan also said the family has not been told about the negotiations between Boko Haram and the government. “They said the Federal Government did not respond to their demand but we didn’t know what it is all about. Since this thing happened, the Federal Government has not listened to them. So, we don’t know what they mean about that one.” Nathan said.
The press conference has however drawn a response from the federal government. It took the press conference to get President Buhari to make a called Rebecca and for a federal government delegation, led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to visit the family.
Lai Mohammed told the parents that the “government is doing everything possible to ensure that Leah Sharibu and the two aid workers are not hurt and they are returned safely to their families.” But declined to say what was being done and if there is any negotiation going on with the terrorists. L’ai said, “we are appealing to them using both formal and informal channels to spare the lives of this innocent people.” Mohammed said.