Leah “undimmed in the den of zealots,” Soyinka
Report by Hassan John
Nigeria’s Nobel Laurete, Wole Soyinka, speaking at Georgetown University, Washington, U.S.A., in and ode; ‘Mandela comes to Leah’, said though Islam claims, “Faith is not of compulsion,” Leah has remained a “torch undimmed in the den of zealots.”
It is over one year since Leah Sharibu was kidnapped, along with 110 other schoolgirls from a Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, northeastern Nigeria, on February 19, 2018, by the Al Barnawi faction of the Boko Haram terrorist jihadi group, Islamic State in West Africa, ISWA.
All the other girls, who are all Muslims, were released, over a year ago but Leah Sharibu, the only Christian teenager among them was denied her freedom because, according to her schoolmates, at the time of their release, Leah was told to convert to Islam and she refused. She was denied her freedom even after Boko Haram received a ransom for the release of all the girls from the Nigerian government. The government though had since denied paying any money for the release of the girls.
To mark her captivity and raise awareness as well as pressure the Nigerian government to make her release a priority, protests, and prayers took place in many cities in Nigeria and in London.
In tweets, posted Tuesday May 14, marking Leah’s birthday, the former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, said, “As Leah Sharibu marks her birthday in captivity today, I join other Nigerians and lovers of peace in the world to urge the FG to ensure her release. God will sustain her and her family members.”
The convener of the #BringBackOurGirlscampaign, Oby Ezekwesili’s tweet said, “#LeahSharibu was left behind when her schoolmates were retrieved from terrorist abduction. She stood unwilling to negotiate her faith for freedom. @MBuhari promised, yet Leah is still with terrorists. She’s 16 today. Tragic,”
Femi Fani-Kayode, former Aviation Minister, said, “Today is Leah Sharibu’s birthday. She has been held captive by Boko Haram for over 400 days now simply because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. She is a reference point for courage, strength and faith and a source of inspiration and pride for every believer.”
Amnesty International’s Twitterhandle said,“The mother of Leah Sharibu and the entire family are still waiting. The wait is getting longer. Nigerian authorities can put a smile on the face of her mother and her family by reuniting her with them,”.
Boko Haram, in its last communication about leash, said the Nigerian government was unserious about negotiating Leah’s freedom and declared that it has changed its mind about releasing the teenager.