IN a little over one week from today, the deadline given by the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group for the Federal Government to resume talks with it or they will murder Leah Sharibu and other captives will be up.
On September 18, 2018, the daredevil insurgents released a video in which they executed a health worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Saifura Khorsa. Then they dropped an ominous warning: “We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages but the government has ignored us. So, here is a message in blood: the other nurse and midwife will be executed in like manner in one month, including Leah Sharibu”.
While Leah Sharibu was abducted along with the rest of 110 Dapchi schoolgirls on February 19, 2018, in Yobe State, the health workers were captured on March 1, 2018, when the terrorists attacked Rann in Kala Balge Local Government Area during which four soldiers, policemen and three humanitarian workers were killed. The other captives who could also lose their lives on October 18, 2018, are humanitarian workers, Hauwa Liman and Alice Ngeddah.
After prolonged silence following the release of the video, the Federal Government on 4th October roused itself and announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had called Leah’s parents, Mrs Rebecca and Nathan Sharibu, conveying his empathy and determination to ensure Leah is brought back safe and sound.
We, once again, join millions of well-meaning Nigerians and good people everywhere to call on President Buhari to get more serious with the terrorists and save Leah and the rest of the captives from imminent execution. The Boko Haram terrorists do not have a reputation for bluffing. It is shocking if indeed the Federal Government failed to respond to their message.
We find it very absurd that the seemingly frantic efforts that followed the refusal of the terrorists to free Miss Sharibu because she refused to convert to Islam was allegedly abandoned. Though we equally value the lives of all captives in the Boko Haram den and insist that efforts to free them must be expedited, Leah’s case stands out. The ability of Boko Haram to re-enact the Chibok schoolgirls’ saga under the Buhari regime showed that we learnt nothing from our bitter experience of 2014 which went a long way in ensuring the ouster of the Goodluck Jonathan regime in 2015. Leah is seen as President Buhari’s special personal responsibility. All eyes are on him to match his words with action.
The other captives under the threat of execution should also be set free. These are humanitarian workers who risked their lives to help displaced persons. Nothing must happen to them.