International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Boko Haram has released all but one of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were kidnapped on February 19. The only girl who was not released is also the only Christian among the group. Her name is Leah Sharibu and she is only 15 years old.
The girls were released by Boko Haram in a ceremony in the town of Dapchi. The terrorist organization reached an agreement with the Nigerian government that there would be no interference with the return. In the early hours of March 21, Boko Haram drove into the town with nine trucks and unloaded all of the girls, except the five that died during the kidnaping, and Sharibu.
One of girls who was released confirmed to The PUNCH, “One girl, Leah, is still with them [Boko Haram] because she is a Christian. About five are dead but it was not as if they killed them – it was because of the stress.”
Saddened by the continued absence of his daughter, Nata Sharibu, Leah’s father, told RayPower 100.5, a Nigerian radio station, “They gave her the option of converting in order to be released, but she said she will never become a Muslim.” He continued, saying that he is “very sad [that she has not been freed] but [is] also jubilating, too, because [his] daughter did not denounce Christ.”
It has also been nearly four years since the abduction of the 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. Today, there are still more than 100 schoolgirls missing from that incident. The vast majority of the Chibok girls were Christian as well. Since the incident in Dapchi, Borno and Yobe states have closed down all boarding schools in order to protect their children. This, however, is one of the main goals of Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.” Giving in to the group’s goals will only further incite them to continue their attacks and abductions.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, stated, “It is truly joyous that these girls were able to rejoin their families. However, we wish to see Leah returned as well. This cowardly act has shown that the terrorist organization truly despises Christians and their faith. We call on the Nigerian government to act swiftly to secure the release of Leah and the remaining missing girls from Chibok.”
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Photo courtesy: Getty Images
Publication date: March 22, 2018