Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, speaks from Boko Haram captivity

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*Leah, Buhari

Her voice has calmed our nerves–Father

The secret service is analysing her voice–Presidency

The lone Christian schoolgirl, Miss Leah Sharibu, who is still being held in captivity by Boko Haram insurgents, has made a passionate appeal to the federal government to expedite action for her release.

Sharibu has been in Boko Haram captivity since February 19, 2018 when the insurgents abducted her and 110 other girls from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State.

But after waiting for six months and with little or no action by the government to get her out, Sharibu who marked her 15th birthday in Boko Haram captivity on May 14, reportedly pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to secure her release.

In a 35-second online audio message released recently, she pleaded with the federal government to ensure her release from her captors.

“I am Leah Sharibu, the girl that was abducted in GGSS Dapchi.

“I am calling on the government and people of goodwill to intervene to get me out of my current situation.

“I also plead to the members of the public to help my mother, my father, my younger brother and relatives. Kindly help me out of my predicament.

“I am begging you to treat me with compassion, I am calling on the government, particularly, the president to pity me and get me out of this serious situation. Thank you.”

Reacting to the audio message, Leah’s father, Nathan said the audio recording of his daughter has strengthened their faith and hope that she will be released one day.

In a telephone interview with Punch, he said the short audio recording released on Monday “has calmed our nerves that our daughter is still alive,” he said

He also confirmed that the voice and picture released by the terrorists were those of his daughter and called on Buhari to consider her daughter’s cries and come to her aid.

“Before now my wife and I thought that our daughter, Leah was no longer alive because there was no information about her.

“The federal government and the Yobe State government kept us in the dark about her status. There was no information from them, but now that we heard her voice, it has really strengthened us.

“Leah’s mother has been crying since watching the picture of her daughter on television, but I consoled her that since Leah is alive, God will get her out of captivity one day,” he said.

Also reacting, to the audio message, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said: “We are aware of the audio in circulation concerning the unfortunate situation of our daughter, Leah Sharibu. In dealing with terrorists, nothing is too trivial.

“The secret service is analysing the voice. Our reaction will follow the outcome of the investigation.

“For President Buhari, nothing will be spared in bringing all our girls home. He will not rest until all of them are freed.”

NewsGazette recalls that on Monday, February 19, 2018, Boko Haram insurgents invaded Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state, abducting 111of the 906 student population.

One hundred and five of the students regained freedom on March 21, 2018 through a series of ‘behind-the-scene discussion’ while five were said to have died of asphyxiation on the day of captivity and were given a mass burial.

But Sharibu, the only Christian girl among the captives, was held back by her captors because she refused to renounce her faith.

In a recent report entitled ‘22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, pursuant to resolution 2368 (2017) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL – (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities,’ the UN said the girls were freed by the Boko Haram terrorists in exchange for a large ransom payment.

“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.

“Meanwhile, Boko Haram (QDe.138) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have had a similar impact in their areas of control, including the Lake Chad basin.

“The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping,” said the report.

Shortly after the return of the 105 students, the federal government pledged to ensure that “the lone girl was not abandoned.”

“The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home to her parents as it has done for the other girls.

“President Buhari is fully conscious of his duty under the Constitution to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic background or geopolitical location and will not shirk in this responsibility,” said Shehu, in a statement.

Speaking when he hosted Justin Webly, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Abuja House in London in April, Buhari said his government had been working to secure Leah’s release.

“We are managing the matter quietly. Making noise would not help. We are collecting as much intelligence as possible, working with the Red Cross and other international organizations.

“There are too many fraudulent people around, who claim they can do this and that. We won’t deal with them. That was how we got the Dapchi girls back, and the Chibok girls,” he said.

Reacting to the continued detention of teenager, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, (CSN) described her situation as a demonstration of increased hostilities against the Christian religion in Nigeria, as well as in other parts of the world.

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