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Deadline on Leah: Religious leaders urge abductors to free her


Leah Sharibu, one of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls

Religious leaders, under the aegis of Interfaith Initiative for Peace (IIP), yesterday, in Abuja, appealed to abductors of Leah Sharibu to release her and abandon their threat of executing her.

Leah’s abductors recently gave the federal government a deadline, which expires next week, to meet their demands or risk her execution.

She is the only remaining Dapchi schoolgirl kidnapped in the school premises on February 19, this year, along with others, who have since been released.

The leaders made the appeal on the sideline of a peace conference organised by IIP, jointly founded by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Saad Abubakar, and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, towards next year’s general elections.

Speaking to newsmen on behalf of the group, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria, Rev. Yakubu Pam, urged Leah’s abductors to abandon their threat to save the Sharibu family from the agony of losing a child in such a violent circumstance.

“We heard that they said next week is their deadline and that is why in this meeting, as we are discussing about the peace of this country, we felt that it is very important and very paramount to talk about this matter.

“The mother is in agony, the family is in agony and we are appealing to their conscience. Whatever it is, let them be lenient and also allow God to speak to their heart.

“We are here as religious leaders and traditional rulers to appeal to the conscience of the abductors of this innocent girl.

I know, too, that the mother has also cried, the family members have cried to the abductors of this innocent girl, as well as well-meaning citizens of Nigeria have also cried.

“We want to appeal to them, to please, for the sake of God, release this innocent girl and by doing this, Nigeria will appreciate.”

Pam called on government to do whatever it could within its powers to ensure the girl is safely released and reunited with her family, noting that leaders of the two major religions in Nigeria- Christianity and Islam- as well as traditional rulers, were attending the conference to discuss peace ahead of the elections.

Speaking at a joint press briefing yesterday in Abuja, Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters, Sheikh Mohmamed Khalid, urged members of the Boko Haram to fear the Almighty God and release all those in the captivity.
Khalid also urged the sect to drop their arms and embrace peace and also go into dialogue with government by stating their grievances and come up with realistic conditions that would be met in order to have peace in the northeast region of the country.
He said: “Other girls abducted with Leah have been released and Leah is still under captivity and these guys are doing it under the guise of religion. No religion can support the abduction of innocent children, especially the girl-child. We want peace in Nigeria.

“Even though the military is doing a lot of work to stem the activities of the insurgents, their best is not enough and we cannot be satisfied until all Nigerians that are in captivity are released.”

He said the abductors of Leah have no basis to hold her captive, since her colleagues abducted together were released and appealed to the federal government to do whatever is necessary and her secure the release.

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