A peace advocate, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam has berated the Federal Government for its inability to secure the freedom of Leah Sharibu, who celebrated her fifth Christmas in the captivity of Boko Haram insurgents.
On Monday, the activist called on President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress-led administration to fulfill his promise to release the victim from Boko Haram den.
He also reminded all men and women of goodwill, common sense and those who celebrate humanity to “remember that Leah Sharibu is an innocent human being, kept against her will in captivity by Boko Haram”.
Leah was 14 years old when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists, along with 109 other students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. Only Leah remains in captivity on account of her refusal to switch from Christianity to Islam.
Para-Mallam, who is the President and CEO of Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, said in a statement: “On Sunday, 25th December 2022, Leah spent her 5th Christmas in captivity. The Nigerian government has not done enough to free Leah and other Christian girls and women who experience sexual abuse and slavery in various Boko Haram camps in Nigeria. Most of these Christian girls and women, including a few Muslim girls are held against their will.
“The international community needs to do more to free these girls and women. The trauma their parents and families go through is harrowing. Our Peace Foundation is in touch with some of these parents. I have remained in touch with Leah’s parents and other families. Many are heartbroken. How can Nigerians be so helpless with a government and military in place? We urge all men and women of goodwill: Christians and Muslims, to rise for the sake of our common humanity and act in a sustainable way to free these innocent women from Boko Haram’s captivity.
“The Buhari presidency and the ruling APC party likes credit to be given to the President in helping to secure the release of some of the kidnapped Chibok school girls back in April 2014. True, they have tried but the truth is this; their effort is frankly too little and very unimpressive. I want to ask, just exactly how many of these Chibok girls were released in the last seven years of this government? Can the numbers be compared with the several hundreds of women and girls who have also been kidnapped by Boko Haram in the last seven years?
“Yes, the Federal Government negotiated and secured the release of the remaining Abuja-Kaduna train victims recently. Yet, nothing conscious and concrete has been done to secure the release of Leah Sharibu and several others. Why? Many of these women and girls are scattered in several Boko Haram camps in the forests and hamlets of Borno State. What will Buhari or the APC party do to bring these girls home to their parents before May 29, 2023, when the tenure of this administration ends?
“We have appealed to the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, over and over including a passionate plea by Leah’s mother with President Buhari himself making a promise that he would do everything possible to bring Leah home to her parents.
“This promise was made in October 2018, it’s five years on and Mr. President, you have not delivered on your promise. You will soon be handing over and leaving the scene of the presidency of Nigeria. What a befitting gift you can give to this nation and to Leah’s family and to several other families, if you can rescue Leah and the other women and girls in captivity and deliver them home and hand Leah and others to their parents.
“But indeed it is not just Leah, because there are several others who are still in captivity. We have several others, Alice Ngada, Grace Tuka, Lilian Gyang Daniel, Praise Austin, Rejoice, two other Grace’s, Feyina, Jamaba, Hauwa and many others whose names I may not have time to mention here, one of them was actually a former young youth corp member who was returning home to Maiduguri after her service year.
“We have appealed to the international community, and we would continue to appeal to them but many times one is even confused. Is the international community really interested in seeing these women and girls set free? I am not convinced that the international community can only bark and is unable to do nothing to see Leah and others set free.
“Leah is also a global citizen, let’s all unite our hearts and hands together and work for the freedom of Leah and other women and girls in capacity.
“Once again, this is Leah’s fifth year in captivity. Even Boko Haram, I appeal to you, think about Leah as your own daughter and set Leah free. God created Leah with freedom, please don’t take away her freedom because you are not God. Ultimately, God is the judge of all of our actions. Remember God and act to free that innocent girl and several others that are in captivity. They will be freed by the grace of God”.