As Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi Christian girl still in Boko Haram captivity from the 110 teenage girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists group from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state clocks 16, the Palace of Priests Assembly (PPA) joins other churches across the federation to celebrate her birthday.
The terrorist group’s had threatened last year to kill the teenager, who was held back for refusing to renounce her Christian beliefs. The other hostages, 104 of her schoolmates, were released following negotiations with the Nigerian government in March.
Recall that In February 2018, the terrorist group abducted 112 female students preparing for final exams at the school. Six of the girls from the all-female boarding school died during captivity while one escaped, leaving Sharibu the only Dapchi student still with her abductors.
According to a statement signed by the Programme Manager of Priests Peace and Justice Initiative, Tive Denedo, tomorrow also marks her 449 days in captivity following her abduction in February, 19, 2018.
Part of the celebration programme, according to the statement will be a peaceful march from the National Christian Centre, Abuja to the Unity Fountain Park where activities to mark the birthday would unfold.
“Leah’s ordeal is a testimony of faith, resilience and courage in the face of rabid intolerance by forces opposed to peace and religious tolerance in Nigeria. PPA recalls that the other girls were released long ago because they were not Christians, or they agreed to renounce Christianity.”
“PPA is calling on the federal government to immediately resume the negotiation for her unconditional release and we call on all men and women of goodwill in Nigeria and across the world to also put pressure on the government to work on her speedy release today to mark her birthday.
“PPA is also calling on all Nigerians to call, send messages, emails to law makers in the National Assembly to join forces with the federal government to ensure that Leah is released without delay,” the statement said.
The PPA also urged the federal government to expedite actions that can lead to the release of Leah.
Advocates for Sharibu’s release are spurred by similar efforts for 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School Chibok in the northeastern state of Borno in April 2014, publicized worldwide through the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
In both cases, Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of girls. Following negotiations, 26 of the Chibok students were freed in October 2016 and another 82 in May 2017, in the wake of leading international figures, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, calling for their release.
But church leaders and Christian activists have been most vociferous in the campaigns for Sharibu’s rescue, inspired by the story of a teenager refusing to renounce her faith even when threatened with death.
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