Imagine celebrating your birthday — as a 15-year-old — surrounded by insurgents in a far away hideout; maybe inside a cave. No cakes, no candle lights nor birthday songs. Just terror and fierce faces threatening you to denounce your religion to regain freedom.
That is the sad story of Leah Sharibu whose continued captivity in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents is her price for reportedly not accepting Islam.
She was the only Christian girl among the 112 kidnapped from their school — Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state — by Boko Haram members on February 19.
While the others were later brought home, Sharibu was held back for reportedly refusing to denounce Christianity.
She turned 15 years on Monday, 12 weeks after her kidnap. But she won’t be having the usual funfare that comes with teen birthday celebrations. She is somewhere enveloped in fear, in the company of the same persons that took her away from her friends and family.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO BRING HER HORROR TO AN END?
Shortly after the other girls were released, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed sadness over Sharibu’s situation and promised his government will not abandon her.
“The lone Dapchi girl, Leah, will not be abandoned … President Buhari assures the Sharibu family that he will continue to do all he can to ensure that they also have cause to rejoice with their daughter soon,” a statement from Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, had read.
But that was on March 22, almost two months ago. Is the president still doing “all he can” to ensure Sharibu returns? Or is it now gradually turning to the sad tale of the 112 Chibok schoolgirls that were kidnapped by the insurgents on April, 2014, and has so far spent four birthdays in their custody — while the federal government keeps promising its “best” and “doing everything possible” to ensure the girls are back.
Sharibu spent Easter in captivity and now, she has to go through another horrific experience of marking a new year in her life without the least she could ask for: freedom.
Here is a call on the federal government to keep to its promise and secure the release of Sharibu — and the other schoolgirls.
And like the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement — advocating for the girls’ release — put it, “please, wish Leah a happy birthday and help ask, #WhereisLeahSharibu?”
Leah Sharibu the #DapchiGirl is in captivity today for 83 days, all her schoolmates are back (save for 5 who are unaccounted for) the government partook in arranging it so.— #BringBackOurGirls (@BBOG_Nigeria) May 14, 2018
Today is her 15th birthday.
Please wish Leah a happy birthday.
Help ask #WhereIsLeahSharibu? pic.twitter.com/9GOixiRppz