Updated: March 5, 2021
Leah Sharibu, a kidnapped Nigerian girl who refused to convert from Christianity to Islam was not released by Boko Haram on Wednesday along with other abducted girls. On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed not to abandon her.
Why it matters: Boko Haram stormed a school in Dapchi on February 19 and abducted 110 girls, most of them like the previous Chibok girls abducted in 2014, were Christians. The terrorists then tried to convert them to Islam. All of them agreed, except one. Her name is Leah Shabiru. The sect then released 104 girls on Wednesday following negotiations with the federal government (minus the five who were said to have died). Leah was the only one alive not released. Anger has been rising in Nigeria over accusations that Boko Haram is the deadly arm of Muslim fundamentalists in the Lake Chad Basin waging a war against Christianity. President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, is often described as a fundamentalist himself. He has rejected that accusation and pointed to his choice of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, a Christian and a Pastor.
In a statement, the Presidency said President Buhari is as committed to the freedom of the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity “as he was to the girls’ freedom when all 110 were in the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists”.
“The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home to her parents as it has done for the other girls after she was held back by the terrorists over her decision, as reported, not to convert from Christianity to Islam,” the Presidency said.
The statement added: “President Buhari is fully conscious of his duty under the constitution to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic background or geopolitical location and will not shirk in this responsibility.
“The President is equally mindful of the fact that true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.
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“To this effect, no one or group can its religion on another.
“His heart goes out to the isolated parents who must watch others rejoice while their own daughter is still away.
“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”.