Leah Sharibu was abducted by Boko Haram when she was 14 years old. She turns 16 today.
A student of Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Leah Sharibu, who was kidnapped last year by Boko Haram terrorists has turned 16 on May 14, 2019.
Sharibu was abducted by terrorists, alongside 111 other girls and another schoolboy, on February 19, 2018 in Bursari local government area of Yobe state. She was 14 at the time.
The abduction led to widespread outrage as it was reminiscent of a similar abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno in 2014.
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After weeks of negotiations with the government, the terrorists released 107 of the 113 originally abducted on March 21, 2018.
While five of the remaining six girls were reported to have died while being transported to Boko Haram’s hideout, Sharibu was kept by the militants because she refused demands to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.
Sharibu is in the custody of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction that broke from Boko Haram in 2016 and was responsible for a wave of savage attacks on military bases in 2018.
To force the government’s hand to negotiate with it last year, the group executed Saifura Ahmed and Hauwa Liman, two of the three female humanitarian workers abducted in Rann, Borno State days after the Dapchi raid.
When Ahmed was killed, Sharibu, who was also threatened with execution, was allowed to send an audio message to the government to secure her freedom.
“I am calling on the government and people of goodwill to intervene to get me out of my current situation.
“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,” she pleaded.
When Liman was killed a month later, like ISWAP promised, the group announced that it would keep Sharibu and the last humanitarian worker, Alice Ngaddah, as slaves.
“Based on our doctrines, it is now lawful for us to do whatever we want to do with them,” the group announced.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari assured that his administration was working hard to ensure the return of Leah Sharibu and the remaining 112 Chibok girls still in captivity five years after they were abducted.
“Diverse efforts are being intensified to secure the release of the Chibok girls, along with all hostages in Boko Haram captivity, including Leah Sharibu,” he said.
The president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, also assured that the negotiation for her return is close to success and that she’ll be reunited with her family soon.
He said, “The report reaching us says her return to her family has unfortunately been hindered by the fear of the militants. They worry that heavy military presence in areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety after they return her to the government.
“At the same time, the military cannot jeopardise the security of the entire north-eastern region by halting their operations to accommodate Boko Haram’s fears.
“Leah Sharibu will be reunited with her family as soon as any conclusions are reached on a number of options being considered for her safe transportation.”
Despite the public outcry over her continued stay in captivity and pressure on the government to secure her freedom, Sharibu has now ‘celebrated’ two birthdays in the custody of her captors.
Boko Haram has terrorised the northeastern region for 10 years killing an estimated 30,000, abducting thousands, and displacing at least 2 million. The group’s operations extend to border countries like Cameroon, Chad and Niger.