It would have been unimaginable to think that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), would remain adamant and unmoving on the inflammatory issue of effecting the release of Leah Sharibu, the iconic young girl, who was reportedly held captive by members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, for ‘stubbornly’ refusing to denounce her Christian faith and God.
Sharibu was among 110 girls of the Dapchi Government Science and Technical School, Yobe State, abducted from their hostels on February 21, 2018. After 33 days of their captivity in the dreaded terrorists’ den, the sect released 104 of the girls. While five of the young girls were said to have died during the ordeal, Miss Sharibu was denied her freedom on the grounds that she refused to convert to the Islamic faith, the religion of her abductors.
The shadowy play-out prior to the abduction as related by the Yobe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam, leaves a sour taste in the mouth of Nigerians about the palpable complicity of government security agencies in the abduction. A similar questionable scenario unfolded when the 104 released girls were returned to Dapchi Town. The governor had lamented the withdrawal of army troops from Dapchi, few hours before the abduction, without letting either the Nigeria Police or the state government know about their decision in advance.
When this allegation went viral, the Army had preferred to keep a sealed lip, leaving the populace with conjectures and permutations. However, as the days went by, the army attempted to exonerate itself by insisting that it had withdrawn its forces from the town because there were no evidence of any Boko Haram activity in the entire vicinity. It further claimed at the time that it had formally handed over Dapchi’s security to the police before its withdrawal.
[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=””]When it suddenly became known that one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, did not return on account of her refusal to trade her faith with her freedom, the federal government initially denied its veracity, insisting that no Dapchi girl was left out. The same way they denied that ransoms were paid for the release of the girls.[/penci_blockquote]
What piqued most Nigerians and the international community watching the unfolding ‘Comedy of the Absurd’ was the pomp and pageantry which attended the return of the 104 Moslem girls released by the terrorists. How the town went agog at the sight of the triumphal entry of the terrorists into Dapchi Town with the released girls. When it suddenly became known that one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, did not return on account of her refusal to trade her faith with her freedom, the federal government initially denied its veracity, insisting that no Dapchi girl was left out. The same way they denied that ransoms were paid for the release of the girls.
After pressures were put on the government from all corners, especially from the church and the international community, the federal government came up with assurances that Sharibu would not be allowed to stay long in the claws of the terrorists. Nigerians began the waiting game, calling on the Buhari-led administration, which had severally claimed that it has completely or technically degraded the terrorists, to intensify actions to ensure that Sharibu was returned unharmed.
It was more of an astonishment when, on May 29 Democracy Day speech of President Buhari, he failed to comment on the status of his administration’s effort to rescue Leah Sharibu, still in Boko Haram’s stronghold, rather preferring to flatter himself on his government’s extermination of the sect . “Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram,” he had stated.
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Over four months after that negotiated release of the 104 Dapchi schoolgirls and the languishing of Leah Sharibu, the government has still not shown any inclination to back up their assurances with action. The government’s cold response to the Sharibu issue is leaving Nigerians with unending questions of the complicity of government in Leah’s continued detention. Not a few people are saying that the only reason why the young girl is still being subjected to the harrowing experience of being a hostage of the terrorists is because the government of Buhari is populated with Moslems, especially among his security chiefs.
They aver that, if that was not the case, why has the Buhari government not deployed the same negotiation mechanism used to return the 104 Moslem girls, for the return of the sole Christian girl among the abducted girls? A security source disclosed to Education Tell that serious brainstorming sessions have been going on among the security chiefs on how to return Leah Sharibu into the safe hands of her parents. The question, however is, why will the meeting to return one young girl in the grips of a ‘degraded’ terrorists group, take longer than the meetings held to return 104 girls? Can this government say in all honesty that it is losing sleep over the Sharibu issue, or merely handling the matter with kid-glove simply because she defied the Moslem terrorist sect, and by extension, many Moslems who preferred that she should have been forced to denounce her Christian faith?
At the moment, the whereabouts of over 100 Chibok Schoolgirls that were similarly abducted from their school’s hostels in 2014, during the past government, are unknown, although this government boasted as one of its 2015 campaign promises, to return all the abducted schoolgirls within a short time, if given the opportunity to govern the country. Today, Nigerians appear disillusioned on the fate of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls. How much longer would the parents of Leah Sharibu, the Nigerian Christian community, the international community that has shown so much interest in this matter and indeed, the parents of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls, wait for the government to awake from its slumber?