A human rights activist, Aisha Yesufu has urged the main religious organisations in the country to unite and put pressure on the Nigerian government to get Leah Sharibu freed.
Yesufu lamented the insensitivity of the government for facilitating the release of other girls abducted in Dapchi and leaving Sharibu girl for not renouncing her Christian faith.
The co-convener of #BringBackOurGirls further said the efforts of the Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in advocating for national issues in the country should be used in demanding the release of Leah Sharibu.
Yesufu told SaharaReporters on Wednesday while reacting to the report that Leah Sharibu has given birth to a second baby in the captivity of Boko Haram.
Leah was among 110 girls, aged between 11 and 19 years, which the terrorists abducted from Government Girls' Science and Technical College, Dapchi, on February 19, 2018.
Convener of the US-Nigeria Law Group, Emmanuel Ogebe said in a statement that "despite an offer by an American pastor last month to surrender himself in exchange for Leah's freedom, there has been no tangible response from her captors.
"That notwithstanding, intelligence received on the status of Leah indicates that she has delivered a second child in captivity.
"While we have not corroborated this by multiple sources, a usually knowledgeable source indicated that she delivered a second child late last year. This means both children were born in 2020, as the terrorists announced her childbirth earlier in 2020. We are still investigating this," the source said.
In her reaction to the story of Leah, Yesufu said, “I think about this issue, we should put the blame absolutely on the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The government failed on Leah Sharibu. When Leah Sharibu was taken alongside her other classmates, others were released because the government negotiated with their abductors. How a government negotiated for other girls and left one daughter behind because of her religion was absolutely incomprehensible. There is no way one can understand that.
“But unfortunately we have a nation where people always abdicate responsibilities. The responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and property. So, when Leah Sharibu’s issue came up, the next thing from the government is to rescue her immediately. Now, this is the third year that she has been in captivity. The question we should ask is that when the Dapchi abduction happened, and other girls were back, why was she not released with them?”
Yesufu said if the CAN could defend its rights on the Company and Allied Matters Acts (CAMA), it should do so in fighting for the freedom of Leah. She also disclosed that MURIC could join in talking to the government, maintaining that Islam does not support the coercion of religion.
“I think the assignment of the federal government is to rescue the girl. I’m calling on Nigerians to advocate for this girl. Where are all these religious bodies? Where is CAN? During the time of CAMA bill, the CAN was all over to fight against it. We are talking about a child that was taken abruptly from her normal life and all these religious bodies have kept quiet? When there are non-issues, MURIC is there. Why can’t MURIC talk about Leah Sharibu?
“In Suratul Bakorah, in the second chapter of the Quran, Allah was saying there is no compulsion in religion. When people go to their churches on Sundays and pray, do they talk about Leah Sharibu? When they go to the mosque to pray, do they talk and think about Leah Sharibu? Do they know as long as she is in captivity, we all are in captivity? It’s really devastating.”
She faulted the Nigerian government for allowing criminals to abduct citizens with impunity in the country, adding that such encourages the terrorists and bandits perpetrating this evil.
“With some of the Chibok girls in captivity, Leah Sharibu in captivity, the Kaduna students in captivity, and the government is sending a message to the terrorists that they can take anyone in Nigeria. And the terrorists will become emboldened knowing full well that they can abduct anybody and nothing will be done about it. This is something we have to look into as a whole nation. We have to come out and make demands.
“For me, it is the responsibility of the government to fight for the release of Leah Sharibu out there. I don’t want to put blame or responsibility on any personality. He doesn’t have the constitutional backing to rescue anyone or negotiate on behalf of anyone. Individuals and religious bodies can only make demands on the government for her release. This is the time for CAN, MURIC, and JNI to make demands for Leah Sharibu. They make demands for their own selfish needs. The fact that she did not leave her religion should motivate these organisations to make case for her.
“I expect that CAN will be there for her. I expect that MURIC should be there for her. I expect that JNI should be there for her. I’m saying this because there is no compulsion in Islam, there is no compulsion in any religion. Nobody has any right to force anyone to become a Muslim. And you know, in all of these, the efforts that CAN put in CAMA, can it put in Leah Sharibu? The efforts that MURIC always put on non-issues, can it put on Leah Sharibu? Let’s find her out. She needs to be back home and get her life altogether.”