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Federal Government must ensure Leah Sharibu’s release, CAN Insists

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National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Samson Ayokunle

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, said it was worried, surprised and disappointed that not all the girls were rescued and, indeed, that one of them was left behind simply because of her Christian faith. 

The association demanded that Leah Sharibu, who allegedly was unable to recite the Quran, hence withheld by the insurgents, be set free to reunite with her parents, if the lives and property of Christians still matter and secure in the country. 

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, President of the association, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, observed that the refusal of the insurgents to release Liya, has again confirmed CAN’s position that the primary target of the terrorists are the Nigerian Christians, as severally professed by its leader, the evasive Abubakar Shekau. 

Ayokunle, while rejoicing with the families of the 104 Dapchi schoolgirls who regained their freedom from Boko Haram following the intervention of the federal government, said: “We are deeply troubled and disturbed that negotiators brought in by the federal government made feeble attempts to secure the release of Leah, who insisted on not renouncing her faith and converting to Islam, a development that affirmed that Christians are endangered in their own country.

“To us, the development has brought to the fore past incidents in which some Christian girls were kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into marriages without the consent of their parents in some states in the north.

“All our cries for government’s intervention and that of relevant security agencies over the callous, ungodly and wicked acts have been falling on deaf ears.” 

According to Ayokunle: “Leah Sharibu is still being kept in the captivity, facing untold psychological trauma and yet, the federal government was keeping mum until people cried out on the social media, as if her life does not amount to anything.

“If she means nothing to the government and the security agency that held the talk with the terrorists, the life of that innocent girl means a lot to her parents and to so many Nigerians, irrespective of their religious affiliations.”

Ayokunle said it was regrettable that the Amnesty International (AI) and the military authorities have still not come to terms on the alleged negligence by the security agencies that led to abduction of the girls, “a development we view as a national disgrace, especially when we recall the roles some security operatives reportedly played in the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014.” 

He condemned the politicisation of the abduction and release of the innocent Dapchi schoolgirls and appealed to politicians to live up to expectation in the discharge of their official assignments.

Ayokunle called for immediate release of the remaining Chibok girls from Boko Haram captivity and reunion with their families, as well as total re-organisation of the security agencies to align with professionalism that would make them respond promptly to security challenges in any part of the country.

“We desire a proactive security system. The federal government should set up a high power judicial panel to investigate the abduction of the schoolgirls with a view to unmasking those behind the abduction and make them face the full wrath of the law- 

“The report of the panel purportedly set up by the Presidency to investigate the abduction should be released immediately to the public. 

“The National Assembly should conduct a public hearing on the Dapchi abduction saga to expose any cover-up. 

“ The federal government should name the five students said to have died while in captivity, with compensation paid to the bereaved parents. 

“We demand an assurance from the federal government that Christians are not endangered species under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.” 


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