Dapchi girl Leah Sharibu clocks 18 in captivity
It wasn’t the kind of start to adulthood that Leah Sharibu, the kidnapped Dapchi school girl, would have envisaged as she clocked the age of eighteen on Friday while still under captivity of her abductors.
Born on May 14, 2003, Leah was abducted on February 19, 2018 at the Government Girls’ Science and Technology College, Dapchi, Yobe State, along with 110 other girls from their hostel by a faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic West African Province of the Islamic State (ISWAP).
Captured at the age of 14, she had spent her 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th birthday with the dreaded Boko Haram fighters who are said to have married her off to one of their commanders.
While five of the girls died and others released later, Leah was still kept hostage following her refusal to convert to Islam from her Christian faith, and the terror sect later vowed to keep her as a slave.
Seven months after her abduction, Leah was seen in a video begging for her freedom while her parents also disclosed that their child’s life was under threat if the kidnappers’ demands were not met. However, Leah’s rumoured death last year February was denied by the government as well as her father.
“As we redouble our efforts for Leah’s return, we can never allow terrorists to divide us – Christian against Muslim, Muslim against Christian,” President Muhammadu Buhari had said on February 18, 2020, in a statement he signed to mark the second anniversary of the abduction.
Two years after this statement, the president has consistently failed to secure her release, despite their several empty promises and pleas by her parents and many others as well as the international community.
While her parents are still hopeful of their daughter’s safe release as promised by the president, they accused the Buhari-led government of doing nothing to secure her release.
Speaking with Voice of Nigeria in February, Leah’s mother, Rebecca Sharibu said: “Why did (Buhari) not adopt the same means he used in gaining the release of the others to free my girl? They negotiated the release of those kidnapped in Kaduna state, why wouldn’t they negotiate for my daughter’s release? Just one girl.”
Her father, Nathan Sharibu who refuted reports in 2019 that her daughter gave birth to a baby boy while still with her captors also appealed to the president saying: “I’m pleading to him to be a father, a grandfather, to do his possible best to see my daughter return home safely. Please, I’m begging him.” However, there were reports this year that she had given birth to a second baby.
As of now, it is still unclear if the government is still doing anything to secure her safe release to her parents or whether the government has left her to her fate.
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