We want Leah’s release now – Archbishop tells FG

As appeals continue to pour in for the speedy release of Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in Boko Haram captivity, the Methodist Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Luke Odubanjo, has added his wife in asking the federal government to see that she was released.
Archbishop Odubanjo made the call at a press conference preceding the 36th Methodist council of Bishops on Monday he hailed leah for rolding on to her faith in the face of persecution and demanded here release.
The prelate regretted that the northern part s of the country do not believe in training the girls in school.
Leah, a Christian, refused to denounce Christ and was subsequently not released along with other female captives from a school at Dapchi, in Yobe State.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that efforts to rescue her are underway, but must be discreet.
“We are managing the matter quietly. Making noise would not help. We are collecting as much intelligence as possible, working with the Red Cross and other international organizations,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in London April 12, The Cable reports.
“There are too many fraudulent people around; we won’t deal with them,” he said, adding that this method was how the government secured the release of other girls abducted from Dapchi in February and from Chibok in 2014.
The president spoke at the Abuja House in London, the official residence of the Nigerian High Commissioner to the U.K. He was hosting Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the highest-ranking prelate in the Church of England, who promised prayers for the young woman.
Sharibu was among the 110 girls and one boy kidnapped Feb. 19 by Boko Haram raiders at a girls’ technical school in Dapchi, a small town in northeastern Nigeria. On March 22 the raiders returned 104 girls, the boy, and a different girl.
Five students were killed after the kidnapping, possibly trampled in the abductors’ overcrowded trucks by other captives or due to stress, trauma and fatigue.
Leah’s mother, Rebecca Sharibu, said that some released girls recounted her daughter’s refusal to accept Islam, The Guardian reported.
According to Rebecca, the girls said “We begged her to just recite the Islamic declaration and put the hijab on and get into the vehicle, but she said it was not her faith, so why should she say it was? If they want to kill her, they can go ahead, but she won’t say she is a Muslim.”
Sharibu’s example drew praise from Father Ralph Madu, Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the administrative headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.
“Leah must be commended for her heroism and courageous act exhibited before her abductors. At no time is the beauty and essence of Christianity better manifested than in this exemplary life of faith,” he said March 28, according to the Catholic News Service of Nigeria.
“For refusing to succumb to the intimidation of Boko Haram abductors, Leah has followed the example of Jesus, the Messiah and Savior, whose passion, death and resurrection we celebrate this period of Easter,” the priest continued.
He said both Christians and Muslims have much to learn from her courage. The priest described her as “a symbol of the sufferings, persecutions, challenges and intimidations Christians face daily in Nigeria for expressing their faith especially in public.”
“This is indeed a mixed story of faith, as well as a sad commentary on how religion has often been used as a tool of division by many for their own selfish purposes,” he said.
The priest appealed to the federal government to “go the extra mile” to re-negotiate Leah’s unconditional release, without delay.
“We must remember that this is a secular country and the government has the responsibility of ensuring the safety of every Nigerian irrespective of religious, political and ethnic differences,” he said.
Nathan Sharibu, her father, reflected on her courage in captivity.
“I am feeling fantastic because she did not deny Christ as her personal savior,” he said, according to The Guardian. “I didn’t think that girl could do something like that because she is young, small and she doesn’t talk just like that. She’s a very quiet girl.”
At the same time, he said he expected the government to bring her home as they have returned other girls.
Pope Francis has assured Nigerians of his prayers. In February he met with a Boko Haram abduction survivor in a private audience. Nigerian Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme has also urged the world to pray the rosary for an end to Boko Haram’s violence.

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