They said it was tragic that the Federal Government had failed to rescue the girl after spending about seven months in the Boko Haram captivity.
Sharibu was one of the 110 girls kidnapped on February 19, 2018 by Boko Haram terrorists from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.
The terrorists were reported to have detained her because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
In a video believed to have been released by Boko Haram a few weeks ago, the teenager appealed to President Buhari to secure her release.
Condemning the delay in rescuing Sharibu more than 200 days after her abduction, the PDP said Buhari should listen to Nigerians and act as a father by putting effort into securing her release.
The PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, while demanding her immediate release, called on Nigerians to pray for the “innocent” girl.
He said, “We appeal to President Buhari and his security agencies to please listen to the cry of this little girl. Nigerians were moved to tears recently after listening to her plea via a voice message she sent from the den of her abductors.
“It was a cry of innocence. This is somebody whose offence was just that she went to school. She didn’t want to die as an illiterate. Must we allow her to be punished for this? My answer is no.
“The primary duty of any government is to provide security for the citizens. That is the little we expect from this government. The President ought to be a father to all the citizens, including Leah. Let him act so by negotiating and freeing this our daughter.”
Secondus said the government should consider the plight of Sharibu’s parents and also listen to the girl’s plea, which was released to the public some days ago.
He said it was unfortunate that since the time Boko Haram released other girls abducted alongside the Christian teenager, nothing concrete had been done by the Federal Government to free her.
The opposition party therefore asked Nigerians to beg the President to, as a matter of urgency, reach out to her abductors and get her out of their grip.
SMLF, SERAP, others demand Sharibu’s release
Also reacting to Sharibu’s continued stay in Boko Haram detention, the spokesperson for the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said it seemed the government had forgotten the teenager, noting that it had not been talking about moves to rescue her.
He wondered why the government failed to insist on Sharibu’s release along with her colleagues who were freed. He, therefore, demanded the rescue of the schoolgirl without delay.
Odumakin stated, “We just hope that the negotiation that took place was not for her to be kept so she could be released close to the election period. It would be ungodly to play such a game with the life of a young girl.
“We are demanding that whatever negotiation used in getting out other girls should be used to effect Leah’s release from Boko Haram now,” the forum insisted.
Also, a member of the BringBackOurGirls coalition, Peter Ilya, said the Federal Government had been quiet about rescuing Sharibu, noting that Nigerians should not discount reports of official complicity in the Dapchi girls’ abduction.
He described as curious the manner the girls were kidnapped without resistance from security forces.
Ilya said, “Is it not curious that they (Boko Haram) abducted the girls and within few days they brought most of them back without any shots being fired and they melted into thin air?”
“Don’t you think the Federal Government was responsible for the abduction ab initio? Do you think we should discount the accusations of the soldier who said the whole abduction was arranged? I believe Leah was just being kept somewhere, the anguish must be unbearable for the parents, I can imagine,” the BBOG member noted.
Two civil society organisations, SERAP and the CDHR called on the President to deploy all instruments of state in rescuing Leah.
They noted that the Federal Government must make the rescue of Sharibu and the remaining Chibok schoolgirls a priority.
The SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “I want the President to walk the talk. I call on him to put firm physical commitment to whatever he has promised. What happened to the Chibok schoolgirls is gradually happening to Leah Sharibu. We should not allow her situation to get as bad and prolonged as the remaining Chibok schoolgirls. No government that is serious and responsible will take the life and liberty of its citizens for granted. Sharibu must be reunited with her parents.
“As we remember Sharibu, we must not forget the remaining Chibok schoolgirls. I recall that they have spent well almost 2000 days in the Boko Haram captivity. The President has promised that whatever it will cost him to get the girls from captivity; he will not hesitate to do such.”
Also the CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “The fundamental rights of Sharibu to life and liberty are being threatened and we want the Federal Government to intensify its efforts in securing her rescue. It is sad that some citizens are suffering from the failure of the government to provide adequate security of life and property. No amount of efforts put in by the government will satisfy us until this girl returns to her parents. It is as simple as that.”
On Thursday, a British member of parliament protested outside the Nigerian embassy in London to help free Sharibu.
According to a CNN report, Liberal Democrat legislator, Tom Brake, staged “a sit-in outside the Nigerian High Commission in central London to put pressure on the Nigerian government.”
“There cannot be a clearer example of someone whose human rights are being ignored than that of Leah who is being detained just because she has maintained her Christian faith,” Brake said in an email interview with CNN.
Brake is taking part in the protest organised by advocacy group, Church World Service, that will last 200 hours as Thursday marks 200 days since Sharibu, who turned 15 in captivity, was taken.
According to the report, organisers said members of the advocacy group would take turns to seat at a school desk placed in front of the commission’s office with Sharibu’s portrait.
Leah’s father said he had been humbled by the international campaign for his daughter’s release.
A former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, also took part in the protest organised by the Church World Service.
In a video he posted via his twitter handle later, Omokri demanded the release of Sharibu.
He stated, “We are trying to call Rebecca Sharibu, Leah’s mother. I have spoken with her earlier and i just want to speak with her again so she can tell Nigerians and people all over the world how she feels and tell people who supported this cause to help free her daughter.”
In the same vein, the President of the Christians Association of Nigeria, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, called the President to mount pressure on the Boko Haram group to release Sharibu and about 100 Chibok girls remaining in captivity of the terrorists.
Ayokunle said this while speaking to journalists on Friday in Iwo on the sidelines of the inauguration service held for the new Vice-Chancellor of Bowen University, Osun State, Prof. Joshua Ogunwole.
The CAN president said the girls had stayed too long in the den of the kidnappers and appealed to Buhari to ensure that they were freed without further delay,
He said, “Leah Sharibu is not the only one in captivity, there are still about 100 Chibok girls in Boko Haram captivity and this government has the moral burden of putting pressure on their kidnappers to make sure that they are released.”
Ayokunle called on the electorate to vote against insecurity and bloodshed in the country during the 2019 general elections, saying Nigerians should not allow any politician to induce them with money in exchange for their votes.
Ayokunle, who is also the President, Nigerian Baptist Convention, equally called on the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Buhari administration to conduct free, fair, transparent and violence-free elections in the country.
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