…as she marks 16th birthday in Boko Haram’s camp
By Ebunoluwa Sessou
A non-governmental organisation, Calatyst for Global Peace and Justice, CPJ, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the release of Miss Leah Sharibu, the only captive of the 110, kidnapped Dapchi school girls from North-Eastern part of Nigeria on February 19, 2018.
The group through its Convener, Pastor Abraham Sam Ayedogbon, who is also the Senior Pastor, Realm of Glory Churches, made the call while marking the 16th birthday of Leah Sharibu on Tuesday, May 14 in Lagos.
Leah Sharibu is celebrating her 16th birthday today, May 16, in Boko Haram’s camp as she is joined by different people from all parts of the world as a heroine and a role model.
Celebrating Leah, the group carried placards with different inscriptions including Today is Leah’s birthday. Leah turns sixteen. Dear Leah, full of courage and strength. You are not forgotten. You are not forsaken. We love you. Hero of faith. Our symbol of strength and freedom,” all these and more were used to describe Leah.
Songs of Freedom for Leah from the group was another aspect of the event that cannot be forgotten as well as cutting of the cake and a prayer session conducted on her behalf.
Speaking on the need for her release, Ayedogbon explained that leaving Leah in captivity is indicative of the government’s failure.
“She is an epitome of the ideal Nigerian, girl and woman. Leah Sharibu has become the conscience of the nation. Leah Sharibu’s courage is the power of our conviction, Leah Sharibu’s decision, selflessness to stand for her faith rather than embrace comfort in the place of compromise, is an inspiration to every person of conscience.
“It is something that every person of goodwill should celebrate and also demand the release of Leah Sharibu. We are in short supply of role models and heroes in our clime and God has proven to us through Leah that we should look among the girls/women.
“So, we feel that Leah should not be forgotten and forsaken because she represents what Nigeria needs, she represents what can change the world.
“Every day she spends in captivity is indicative of government’s failure; every day she spends in captivity is soiling the senselessness of the insurgency.
“Every day she spends in captivity is showing to us the faith in God because she did not compromise. So, today, being her 16th birthday reminds us that she took the decision when she was 14 years. This is the second birthday she will be celebrating in captivity.
“We feel there is no birthday opportunity than her 16th birthday to roll out the drums and we are doing this in all our formations in about 30 branches of Catalyst for Global Peace and Justice, CPJ, and Realm of Glory Churches nationwide and we are collaborating with other groups including the Para-Mallam Foundation, the CWEEN Women group, the Leah Sharibu Foundation across the country as well as churches across different countries including Australia, United States, Europe, South Africa among others.
“This celebration is going on and we are waiting for the day she will be out to celebrate with all of us,” he said.
Asked if it is only about celebrating Leah’s birthday, he said: “It is about Leah. We do not want to use this medium to promote the failure of the government. We have taken on the government at different levels.
“We have confronted them and did protests in Abuja and across the nation and we are still going to do more not for Leah but for every person in captivity. It is not because Leah is a Christian; if we find a Muslim who is being held captive because of her faith and she is courageous enough to stand for what she believes, we will come out for her.
“This is about the dignity of humanity. Today is a great occasion to celebrate her because it is her birthday. We do not have to rob her of that. The loudness of this celebration is a direct statement and also a confrontation with the government by way of using it to awaken the consciousness of the government.
“They think the election is over, therefore, Leah should be forgotten. But we are saying with the efforts of the media personnel, Leah cannot be forgotten nor forsaken. Whilst we are celebrating her, they cannot sleep or rest in peace because they know that the Nigerian people have chosen not to forget her.
“And if the government continues to forget her and treat her as if she is insignificant, they are recording mass failure,” he said.
For Leah’s mother, he said: “The success of every mother is to raise up a generation that will be better than the parents. That is what Leah’s mother and the father have achieved. They live to see their daughter becoming a global hero through her conviction and upbringing without much affluence.
“Global icons including Prof. Wole Soyinka, T-Mac, among others, are celebrating Leah. I believe this should be an encouragement to Leah’s parents that at times, the will of God is not pleasant but it will always end gloriously and they should be proud of their daughter.
“I believe the good people of Nigeria will all join Leah’s parents to welcome Leah back sooner than later and then, our joy will be full.