The mother of kidnapped schoolgirl Leah Sharibu joined a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in London on Wednesday to call for her daughter’s release.
The protest coincided with the second anniversary of Leah’s abduction by members of the Islamic State West African Province, a faction of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
She was one of over a hundred girls who were abducted by the militants from their school in Dapchi, Yobe state, on 19 February, 2018. The others were all released a few weeks later. Only Leah, 16, remains in captivity after refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
Her mother, Rebecca Sharibu, has repeatedly called on the Nigerian government to take action to free her daughter.
Speaking at the London protest, she said: “Today Leah has spent two years in captivity. We don’t know where Leah is, we don’t know the condition or the situation that Leah is in.”
“I’m pleading with [the UK] government and with our Nigerian government, with President Buhari… to fulfil his promises that he has made to me personally, that he is going to rescue Leah and ensure that she is released, and not just Leah, all the others in captivity.”
She also thanked supporters for being a source of encouragement throughout her ordeal, and asked that they continue to pray until Leah is released.
She accompanied Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in delivering a petition to the High Commission signed by over 12,000 people, which calls on the Nigerian government to take action to free Leah.
Thomas said: “CSW has been outside this High Commission many times in the last two years. We’ve spent days and days out here. We’ve celebrated Leah’s birthday out here on two occasions, and we will continue until we see Leah released.
“We will stand with [Rebecca] until we see Leah released.”
He went on to say that he did not believe that the Nigerian government and President Muhammadu Buhari are doing enough.
“In fact we don’t believe they’re doing anything, even though President Buhari personally promised Rebecca that he would get Leah released,” he said.
“That was eighteen months ago, and nothing has happened. So that’s why we’re here today, we’re here to protest and say to the Nigerian government we want to see Leah released. We stand in solidarity with Rebecca… and we will continue to do that.”
Since Leah’s abduction two years ago, there have been few updates about her welfare. In January 2020, one of five aid workers released by ISWAP said that the teenager was alive and well.
But concerns remain after ISWAP said last year that Ms Sharibu and a Christian nurse also being held hostage, Alice Loksha Ngadda, would be enslaved for life and that it was “lawful” for militants to “do whatever we want with them”.
Pastor Fred Williams, of Spirit Life Missions, expressed concerns about the worsening situation for Christians in Nigeria during Wednesday’s protest.
“The number of kidnappings in northern Nigeria is not reducing, it is increasing and they are targeting Christians,” he said.
“Every part of northern Nigeria now is being covered by this trend. This is not going away.
“What is happening in Nigeria is going to spread, its not going to stop in northern Nigeria, it has already spread to other parts. We need to respond to this global issue, we need to be proactive.”
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