By Sam Eyoboka
THE Federal Government was recently revisited the February 19 adoption of 112 young schoolgirls from their Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State, when it debunked reports that the Nigerian authorities paid huge sums as ransom for the sensational release of 105 Muslim girls on March 21 leaving behind the lone Christian victim because the teen refused to denounce her faith.
In a statement issued in Ilorin, in resp-onse to the news item which quoted a report submitted to the UN Security Council alleging that huge ransom was paid for the March 21 release of the Muslim schoolgirls, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, challenged anyone who has any evidence of payment to make such evidence public.
“It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge. There must be a conclusive evidence to support such claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” the minist-er said. He did not say a word about the pledge by President Muhammadu Buhari not to sleep until he rescued 15-year old Leah Sharibu, the only Christian girl involved in that abduction saga six months ago.
Reacting to the current development, President, Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states and Abuja, Northern CAN, Rev. Yakubu Pam who recently led a delegation of North-ern Christians to Aso Rock to register its displeasure about the plight of Christians in the region, expressed sadness of Northern Christians with the feeling that the Federal Government is no longer committed to the rescue of this Christian girl whose only sin was refusal to denounce her Christian faith.
“Since after our meeting with Mr Presi-dent, we have not heard anything about the issue; no feedback. We are sad. How-ever the Church has not lost hope. We still believe God will do it,” Rev. Pam said.
In the same vein, the Public Relations Officer of Northern CAN, Elder Sunday Oibe lamented that the Buhari administ-ration was yet to make good its pledge not to loose any sleep until the Christian girl was released to her parents.
“This government has not done any-thing to release this girl to her parents and one can only imagine the psycho-logical trauma the innocent girl is going through just because she decided not to accept another religion and instead held fast to her Christian faith. Only God knows how the parents are coping with the situation.
“All other girls kidnapped on the same day, have been returned to their parents and have since resumed school, but till today Mr. President has not done anything to return this girl. Corruption is not all about money. This is emotional corruption, because the parents must be suffering from psychological trauma. That is religious corruption,” Oibe noted.
On his part, the Secretary of National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel expressed sadness that the impunity and lawlessness of Isl-amists in a modern and civilized state remain unchallenged in Nigeria by Church leaders.
According to him, while the lawlessness of the Islamists is dis-tressing, “what I find very disturbing is the apathy and indifference of church-es to the plight of Christians in the Nor-th. I am of the opinion that our churches are not doing enough to support and protect vulnerable Christians under persecution in Nigeria. The case of abd-ucted Christian girls in northern Nigeria is very pathetic and should not have been permitted to get to this stage,” he lamented.
According to him, the Nigerian Church has the capacity to put an end to this malaise through a programme of well articulated advocacy and interventions. “Unfortunately, what we notice is ind-ifference to their plight.
“Concerning the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu, my heart goes out to the affect-ed families and the innocent girls who have become victims of a failed state and a lukewarm Church.
“Hausa Christian Foundation (HACFO) keeps telling us that many more under-aged Christian girls are abducted re-gularly in the North and forced into marriage with Muslims without parental consent. The churches should have done more to intervene for them,” he maint-ained.
For example, Pastor Emmanuel con-tinued, “now that Leah has been abdu-cted for six months, different denomina-tions and ministries should sponsor full page advertorials in newspapers lam-enting the continued incarceration of this innocent girl and other Christian girls. Their names should be published in the advertorial. The cost is nothing com-pared to what church leaders spend to travel abroad on a single trip. Churches should carry full page obituary for every Christian killed by Islamist Jihadists and put pressure on the Gover-nment to act.
“Instead of having vigils to pray for pro-sperity and breakthrough, they should have vigils and focus prayers on the per-secuted Christians and contribute funds to support them.
“Six months of Leah in captivity, I would say the Church has not done anything substantial to fight for her freedom. If anything, it is church members who are agonizing the most on Social Media. The denominations and ministries are yet to act. It is clear that this government will not act positively unless pressure is pla-ced on it.
“The Islamists are calibrated to do evil in a modern society. The Church should re-calibrate itself to overcome their evil with good,” Pastor Emmanuel counseled.
All efforts to the get the new president of Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, Rev. Stephen Panya Baba to speak on the development proved abortive as he didn’t pick nor return our several calls. He didn’t reply our text messges to his phones. The Sharius are devout members of ECWA.
The local pastor of ECWA in Dapchi, Rev. Daniel Auta told our correspondent that the church has not relented on its prayers “because that is the only wea-pon available to us. You know we are a rural church, we are not exposed to the sophistication of the city where there are various ways of expressing disgust.”
Since that February 19 incident, Leah’s mother, 45-year old Mrs. Rebecca Shari-bu, who is now in Yola with the rest of the family, has waited patiently for the day when Leah will rejoin the rest of the family. The traumatised Mrs. Sharibu, without doubt, is scared. She told our correspondent before moving to Yola with her son, Nathaniel Junior that she would relocate from Dapchi as soon as Leah returns, lamenting that no official from government at any level nor offi-cials from the Government Girls Techni-cal College, Dapchi has visited the family.
“Only concerned Christian groups have been coming here to see us. No one from government either Federal, state or local government. We are left alone in our anguish. When God eventually re-turns my daughter to us, I will not allow her to return to that school. Thank God, we have relocated the brother to anoth-er school,” she bemoaned.